5/24 – Black and White 2

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

We’re halfway through sequel week and today is a good day to talk about one of our most requested games. It’s time for the cult strategy classic, Black and White 2. Developed by Lionhead Studios, Black and White 2 released for the PC in 2005.

Black & White 2 is the sequel to Peter Molyneux’s 2001 god game, Black & White, and takes on the same basic premise. The player is put in the role of God, being called from the void by the prayers of the people. A town is being overwhelmed by Aztec soldiers and players must save them and foster belief in order to maintain their powers.

Unlike the original game, Black & White 2 contains a storyline where the player’s town is prophesied to rise from the ashes and dominate the world. Players can build their town up by suggesting to their villagers what needs to be built where. Unlike most city builders, though, all actions are done indirectly. Players can tell their people where to build something but the villagers have to actually perform the action and players don’t have any direct control over their villagers actions.

As more villagers believe in your god, the player is given more prayer points, which function similar to mana. Miracles can be cast by performing gestures with the mouse on the screen. This will do a variety of things to the world such as create lightning storms or water fields. Players must build their towns up and either wage war with their opponent’s town or convert their villagers to worship the player’s god.

While Black & White 2 doesn’t go completely without UI elements like the first game, it still tries to keep things minimalistic, turning actions into gestures the player must perform with their mouse. They also are provided with a physical avatar in the game world which will take the form of an animal, either a wolf, ape, lion, tiger or cow. This avatar can be trained and made to be good, evil or neutral. The avatar’s morality can be independent of the player’s morality, although it learns from a player’s interactions with it. So if a player performs kind actions but then punishes the avatar, they could make the avatar’s morality different than their own.

Black and White 2 reviews were positive but not as glowing as the first game. Some reviewers found the story mode to be too restrictive, taking away from the open-ended feel of the first game. Several acknowledged that some players may appreciate this increased linearity but fans of the first may be turned off by the change. Indeed, sales of Black & White 2 were significantly lower than those of the first game and the series has been dormant since. Like the first game, Black & White 2 is not available digitally on any storefront and is thus rather hard to find and get working on modern operating systems.

Thanks so much for listening to the show. If you want to hear more episodes, check out the archives on videogameoftheday.com and also follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday for updates and polls and random thoughts about whatever I happen to be playing or watching. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.

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