Review: Black & White Platinum Pack (Mac) - Macenstein

Review: Black & White Platinum Pack (Mac)

Posted by Helper Monkey

If there’s one thing the 2002 movie Kung Pow: Enter the Fist taught me, it’s that few things are funnier than seeing a cow doing Kung Fu moves. With that in mind, it is no wonder I had such high hopes for Feral Interactive’s strategy game Black And White. I mean, not only do you get to watch an “udder-ly� (sorry) bad-ass cow kick some butt, but you can actually control the butt-kicking!

Black And White, for those who do not know, is sort of a cross between the Sims and strategy games like Civilization and Warcraft. B&W casts you in the role of God. Well, not God, per se, but A god in a world with many “gods�. You are not necessarily the biggest fish in the sea here. You need to build up your power and skills in order to take down the other would-be Jehovahs and claim your spot at the top of the biblical food chain.

To do this you will need followers. Your powers in Black and White grow in direct relationship to how many people believe in you. Initially, you start the game with two followers whose son you rescue from drowning. You follow them back to their village, and they spread the word around about your wondrous deeds to gain you more followers.

The name Black and White refers to the 2 tactics you can take to increase your powers. You can choose to continue to do great things for your followers, and be a caring and loving god, or… you can have real fun, and be a total jerk. Either way, you will ultimately gain in power, either out of respect and adoration, or out of the fear of your vengeful wrath. Sort of like “The Force� in Star Wars, you can tap into great power through either good (white) or evil (black).

“Neat Boss. You’re really gonna do damage with this skill later.� You are guided through the game by your conscience.

Black and White starts off with a fairly lengthy (and a bit slow moving) tutorial guiding you through the basics of being a god, like helping villagers complete various tasks, performing miracles, and just navigating the world in general. The navigation system is, to say the least, “unique� in Black and White, and does take some getting used to. You are represented on screen by a hand (the �hand of god, as it were�). You can get from place to place by double clicking an area of the map, or by dragging yourself through the world with your god-like digits. While long, the tutorial is necessary, however, as the game is not overly intuitive, and the manual gives few pointers in strategy. You are guided through the tutorial by your conscience, which is represented onscreen by an angel and devil on your “shoulder�, sort of like old Bugs Bunny cartoons.

What sets Black and White apart from other games is its unique blending of genres. Similar to the Sims, you spend a large portion of your day making sure the villagers are happy (or unhappy, if that is your choice). The villagers are actually quite “needy�, and the temptation is strong to just throw them in the ocean some times. I admit I found it much harder to be a loving god than an evil god. You also need to help manage your village, and help it grow. More villagers mean more power for you.

Choose your creature wisely. He is the one who will drive your crazy for the rest of the game.

To help manage your village, you are given a pet, of sorts. Your “creature�, as the game refers to it, reflects the path you have chosen. If you are a nice a loving god, a good choice might be the cow I am so fond of. A path of evil and destruction might work better with a more aggressive tiger-like creature. Your creature is your emissary on the island, and helps you to control your villagers. It is up to you to actually shape whether your creatures is god or evil. You raise the creature from infancy, teaching it how to behave and interact with your followers. When your creature becomes powerful enough, it is time to start flexing your god-like muscle!

I find the creature battles are the most fun aspect of Black and White. It’s not that the combat system is overly refined or anything (this isn’t Tekken after all) but it reminds me of those giant robot battles of Voltron days gone by. Anyway, if your creature can best another god’s creature, you can expand your empire.

If this sounds interesting or fun, then I apologize for misleading you. It isn’t. I know Black and White has been a very well respected franchise on the PC and received many favorable reviews. I really wanted to like this game, but I had a couple big problems with it that I could not get past. First on the list is the “unique� navigation system I mentioned. At first I thought, “Cool, this is new!�, then after a couple hours I thought “Damn, this is annoying!� The navigation scheme in this game is so “unique� it actually distracts you from getting into the game. I found myself constantly having to think about what my mouse and keyboard had to do to get the game to do what I wanted IT to do.

The second problem with the game is it just isn’t fun. While playing Black and White I experienced one of those rare moments as a reviewer where I realized that if I didn’t HAVE to be playing this game for the purposes of the review, I would have stopped playing hours ago. The whole “keeping the villagers happy� got very old very fast. I wanted to smash the lot of them. Raising the creature isn’t any more fun. Your creature learns by your praising it when it does well, or by your smacking it around when it does something wrong. I am no animal rights nut, but I found it disturbing beating that damn cow for throwing a villager around. The sounds it makes are pitiful, and you feel like a bully.

No, that’s not an umbilical chord, it’s a leash. If you don’t mind walking your dog at 2 AM in the rain, then maybe taking care of this pet is right up your alley.

The Black and White Platinum Pack consists of the regular Black and White, which I just was rambling on about, and the “creature Island� expansion pack. On Creature Island, the focus is less on keeping the villagers happy (which was not fun), and more on the raising and training of the creatures (which was also not fun). In fact, even your creature gets a creature to raise. You must run them through various tasks to build their skill set and help them both grow. You can guess how fun I found trying to get my creature to train another creature was.


There is definitely a large market for this type of game, and I admit I am not it. While I enjoy time-consuming simulation games as much as anyone, this was definitely not my cup of tea. Perhaps fans of the Tamagotchi virtual pets would find taking care of such needy villagers and disobedient pets fills a void in their lives. I already have two young children, and I do not need to spend my free time listening to more.

Black & White Platinum Pack (Mac)

Price: $29.95

• Interesting idea

• Very hard to navigate environment and control creature
• Tedious gameplay will turn off some players

Rating: 4 of 10 Stars

2 Responses to “Review: Black & White Platinum Pack (Mac)”
  1. antoine says:

    apres il faut allée dans la vallée derriere le temple avec la créture trouvé la creature géante et faire ce quelle dit apres ca un vortex aparetera dans le village plonger dedans ensuite in stalé vous sur le nouveau territoire enparé vous d’un village de léthis puis un deuxieme
    un vortex aparetera votre créature sera piqué par léthis puis enprisoné par la créature de léthis entré dans le vortex et instalé vous pour vous enparé de l’ile(cette fois ceul)

  2. CK says:

    I think the reason that you didn’t have fun playing Black & White is because you’re not good at it.

    Granted, the controls are far from intuitive, but an even slightly seasoned gamer should be able to have them memorized (or if all else fails, customized) within a reasonable period of time. Although it can’t help that you’re actually playing this on a Mac. Your life (at least the parts of it you spend playing Black & White) would be a lot easier if you could right-click now and again.

    As I was saying: this game is annoying if you suck at it, but it’s great fun when you’re winning. Converting enemy Villages, managing your own and making sure your Creature isn’t causing trouble (or if he is, then making sure that it’s for another god) requires a large degree of skill at micromanagement, and the game doesn’t go out of its way to teach you that. Instead it points out the important things about the game mechanics and lets you figure out for yourself the best way of doing things. Unlike most of the crap that the ‘intellectual’ game market is flooded with (meaning things like strategy and puzzle games, not reflex-driven games like shooters), this game is difficult, because assumes you’re actually good at what you do and doesn’t lower the learning curve and hold your hand with everything. And like all good strategy games, once things start to go wrong, they go wrong very quickly and very badly. “Do it right the first time, or don’t do it at all” is the idea.

    Secondly, I think your description of B&W as a simulation-cum-strategy game is mistaken. There’s precious little actual simulation involved here; it just looks that way because of the complicated way the people work. But make no mistake: villagers are not pets that need to be taken care of, they’re resources that need to be managed to be of any use to the player, just like Food and Wood. You need them to extend your reach over the land, and to power Miracles to help take over your enemies’ Villages or to teach your Creature; but to do that, they need to be happy and not dying of hunger or exhaustion- and even then they die of old age eventually, so you need to make sure that Villages encourage children being born. Why? Because the game revolves around keeping the little whiners happy, like Tamagotchi? No. Because otherwise, you have no power and you lose. It’s precisely the same principle as what happens when you order your drones to stop mining in StarCraft, it’s just that much more complicated.

    In short, I think your review is too negative, simply because it takes an incorrect view of the game. Play B&W again, but don’t look at it as a simulation game, and I guarantee you’ll have more fun. You still might not like it; it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. But at least try to look at the game the way it’s meant to be looked at.

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