Black & White
was the definitive god game of our era, created by the man who defined the genre, Peter Molyneux. In it, you played a god who must spread his influence over the land in either a benevolent or malevolent manner. While a mix of the two was possible and the easiest to achieve, the challenge was in trying to go completely to one side of the spectrum, limiting yourself totally to your good or evil ways.
While the goals have not changed in Black & White 2, the method of achievement has. More emphasis is put on achieving a mix of good and evil. The opposite ends of the spectrum are imbalanced, as it is now extremely hard to be completely good and a bit too easy to achieve your gains through evil means. The addition of standing armies in Black & White 2 is a testament to this, as it is almost impossible to beat any level without an army, and the simple act of raising an army is considered "evil".
You progress through Black & White 2 by completing levels. Each level has a series of goals, some of which you must complete, and others which you donít have to complete, but will grant you benefits if you do. The main goals usually consist of persuading all of the towns and cities on an island (all the levels take place on islands) to join you. You can do this by either impressing the hell out of them, or simply raising an unstoppable army and turning them by force.
Black & White 2 seems like much more of a strategy game than the prequel did. A large emphasis is placed on combat, as well as constructing defensive fortifications around your cities. While keeping your population fed and happy is still a large part of the game, the added dynamic of maintaining an army is almost as time consuming and resource intensive.
What separates Black & White 2 from other god games (aside from the prequel) is your creature. This giant beast is your representation on the planet, and you must care for it like you would any other pet. In Black & White 2, you can pick from four different animals to represent you: a lion, ape, wolf or cow. The AI of the creature is what drew people to this series of games in the first place. It will take your orders, but you canít attend to it all the time. It has a life of its own, eating, sleeping, playing, or destroying, and as you progress through the game, it grows and learns from all of its previous actions.
Sadly though, there is no Multiplayer support in Black & White 2. Multiplayer in the first game was interesting as you pitted your creature against other playersí creatures and had them fight it out Bloodsport style. Why there was no support in the title is beyond me, and it seriously detracts from the replay value.