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Icarus too close to the Sun-- looking back on the ambitious but flawed Black and White 2

2024-04-25 Update From: SLTechnology News&Howtos shulou NAV: SLTechnology News&Howtos > IT Information >

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This article comes from the official account of Wechat: ID:chuappgame, author: nurse under shirt

God simulates the last flag of the game.

The translator's note: this article was originally published in PC Gamer.

The translation of this article originated from the newly released Dungeons 4. " Dungeons "series and early domestic PC gamers' common memories of" Dungeons Guardians "(Dungeons Keeper) have some unclear relationship, although the official has never expressed their position, but many people think that the 'Dungeons" series can be regarded as the spiritual sequel of "Dungeons Guardians", and the Wikipedia pages of several works of "Dungeons" also directly compare them with the "Dungeons Guardians" series. However, compared with the two works "Dungeons Guardians", which still retain the strong color of God simulation game, "Dungeons" has been on the road of strengthening the real-time strategy of resource management, base construction and troop control from the first generation to the fourth generation. As a result, there will be a feeling of old players that the two are not like each other.

This comparison corresponds to "Black & White 2" and "Black & White" in this article. As the last banner of God's simulation game, the changes in word-of-mouth and evaluation of the two generations of Black and White are also worth exploring.

In addition, even in 2023, when various digital distribution platforms are maturing, players can only play the authentic version of the series through physical CDs that were released that year. This somewhat ironic reality, along with the long-fallen bullfrog, the long-lost "God Simulation" type, and the no-young genius Peter Molineux, wrote a footnote to an once-fantasistic era of PC games.

What on earth is a "God simulation game"? If you ask 100 PC gamers this question, the answer will probably be "well, it's a game that allows you to play some kind of god." Of course, this answer is correct, and this is indeed the first condition for the type of "God simulation game".

However, after determining this first condition, we can't help but ask: "what should there be in God's simulation game?" For example, what can you do in the game? What kind of story will the game tell? What is the look and feel of the game and what is the experience of playing it? How do players interact with the world in the game? How do the above elements interact? Take these questions to ask the above-mentioned 100 people, the answer is not so uniform, players are bound to have different opinions.

Let's set the clock back to the beginning of the 21st century. In the groundbreaking God simulation game Black and White, released in 2001, Peter Molineux wanted to find answers to these questions directly or indirectly-although it may be controversial, but with the release of "God is Crazy" in 1989, he is often regarded as the father of the God simulation game.

At the time, PC Gamer magazine gave the game a high score of 94, and Tim Stone, who was in charge of the review, said the game was "full of great ideas and new designs" and "Black and White brought extraordinary entertainment."

How does Black and White interpret God's simulation game? You take it for granted that you play a god in the game and influence your human followers through your spokesman in the world of Eden-a huge immortal beast of your choice. You need to gain strength from these human followers, and to do this, you need to inspire their loyalty to you, and make them more awe-inspiring through your achievements, so as to slowly expand the settlements of these followers and expand civilization in the way of simulated games. Next, you need to get other rival villages on your island to believe in and follow you until you take the whole island and move on to the next level. The game is cycled in this process.

These contents may not seem surprising, but Black and White has completed a groundbreaking whole set of manipulation and gameplay systems on the basis of the above framework. Considering the time of its birth, all this is all the more rare. The whole experience of the game is full of the attraction and innate fun of Molineux's novel ideas. In the game, you can watch your immortal beast grow and evolve, and even see it play by itself in the game. The process of playing the deity was full of childishness, even though some commentators thought that the depth of the game was not enough. However, this immortal beast nurturance part similar to keeping an electronic pet, coupled with the manipulation and presentation of the game, has made Black and White the king of God's simulation game.

Today, Black and White still has a score of 90 on Metacritic and has been widely praised by critics all over the world.

Black and White is an eternal classic in the minds of many people, but it may not be better. Next, let's take a look at Black and White 2. Given that the previous work has been so widely praised, how to make a sequel is a big problem. This is also a topic that Molineux talked about in an interview during game development. "I know it's a big problem for us," he said with a remorseful smile on his face. "but we're making a game that can bring about great changes to both real-time strategy and God's simulation. We're going to combine the two."

On the face of it, it was not only a correct and wise decision, but also one that was very much in line with Molineux's ambitions. Yes, the most important thing that needs to be improved right now is how to add more mechanisms to Black and White's existing surface design (including impressive graphics and creative systems) to make the game more deep. give players more space to study. So why not try combining the type of God simulation with a mature real-time strategy? This idea is absolutely meaningful, and for me who decisively bought the original Black and White and loved it to the bone, even this year, 2023, I would still think so.

That's exactly what Molinex and his team did. When Black and White 2 was released in 2005, it brought a team battle control system that is entirely part of the real-time strategy game, and players no longer get influence points only through nation-building and expansion. but you can fight as you do in traditional real-time strategy games. Players who choose the route of force need to pull up a team that can fight, and then conquer the enemy's cities by force with the help of huge immortals and beasts and their own powers (for example, you can roll out all kinds of fireballs and throw them at the enemy's home).

Black and White 2 adds a combat system, so players have a game that includes several types of core games-the process of developing an immortal beast is like a miniature version of an electronic pet game. the process of nation-building and expansion is like a "civilized" simulation game, and the process of leading troops to war is like a real-time strategy game. On paper, it seems that it is not only a type fusion game, but also a perfect sequel to the first generation of Black and White, and even a masterpiece in the history of the game. The problem, however, is that, as PC Gamer magazine pointed out in a review at the time, "its true standard is not very good" because of the "lack of sufficiently prominent core play".

At that time, many reviews found this big problem-although Black and White 2 provided players with ways and systems to play from all types of games, each system was not implemented very well. In other words, each subsystem does not reach the depth that they should achieve in their respective corresponding types. From a city-building point of view, it is not as good as real construction simulation games such as "simulated City"; from a real-time strategy perspective, it is not as good as real-time strategy games focused on it, such as Rome: total War. And it is not a question of a slight gap, but the degree of heaven and earth. As a result, the game eventually became a typical example of "everything is loose".

The problem is not only that, but along with the superficial design of each system, there are more specific implementation problems that have continued since the beginning, such as the very unfair pace of development and the computer AI, which is either insidious or mentally retarded to touching.

The shortcomings of Black and White didn't solve the Battle of the Gods in Black and White 2 when we fast-forward to 2023 and really played the game again (it's not easy to replay the game now. It didn't hit any digital stores, and I had to find the physical drive I bought that year and make a lot of third-party patches to make it work on today's new hardware and systems.) I found that while many of the initial problems had been fixed, the lack of depth in gameplay, the slow pace of the game, the incoherent control of the user interface and the retardation of the computer AI were still obvious. The passage of time did not bring miracles, making all the problems that already exist in the game disappear.

In half of the game time, I find the camera control of the game very uncomfortable, and it is too complicated by today's standards. I often have to hit a variety of tricks on the keyboard, coupled with a quick click of the mouse to shake a desired perspective. This operation often makes me feel that my fingers are not coordinated enough, and finally let me really scold, scold loudly.

In addition, the operation of "the hand of God", the core design of the game, is also more complicated than I remember. Sometimes, the gesture control of the hand of God is okay, such as when I scratch the belly of a tiger, an immortal beast, or help my little man uproot a tree and place a building. But other times are very irritating, such as holding something in my hand and I want to let go, so I swipe the mouse back and forth-- this is the gesture of letting go-- only to find that I hold it more tightly. Sometimes, I would slap the immortal beast directly without my intention, and even once, I caught a little man and fed it directly to the immortal beast-before I came and took any remedial measures, the immortal beast swallowed the little man directly.

But to be honest, what impressed me most about replaying Black and White 2 was not the shortcomings of the game, but the strengths and creativity contained in it. Over the years, these enterprising ideas have become more attractive.

Nowadays, all the 3A games are playing safety cards, and no one dares to engage in scientific experiments at the level of "Black and White 2" anymore. Even if Molineux boasts so much before and after the game launch, you should still pay tribute to him for stuffing such radical ideas into Black and White 2.

Many of the ideas in Black and White 2 are bold now. Yes, the greatest thing about Black and White 2 today is that it tells us that there was a time when some people dared to do such a radical experiment with an award-winning previous and costly sequel development opportunity to bring something new to the whole category. Now you will find that new game mechanisms or new type fusion experiments will only appear in low-budget independent games, while 3A games are ridiculously conservative. For PC games, this is really a huge loss.

Today, Black and White 2 is still radiating its light. Even if you go to replay today, the visual experience it provides is still excellent. Its core gameplay, such as fooling around with your immortal beasts, influencing your villains to build a country that worships you, using your divine power to create various feats, and so on, are still very interesting and unstoppable. The image of the giant immortal beast and the small people busy in the spreading country can also evoke memories of some giant movies, such as Godzilla. Even just hanging out on this magical island can arouse your childlike innocence. If you can turn a blind eye to overly simple army management and control, as well as the not-so-so enemy AI, the combat part will also be interesting, especially if your divine powers and immortal beasts are involved.

My feeling is that although there are still God simulation games launched after Black and White 2, they are basically small-cost, small-scale production. Molineux and his team have reached the limits of the triple-A God simulation game in Black and White 2, but although they have thought about it a lot, they can't make sure that all the ideas will come true. To put it simply, they have strong but not fully proven ideas, while at the same time ensuring that the game can integrate many different systems, and that players can effectively control so many systems. and make sure that the core of the game is the cultivation of electronic pet-like immortals and beasts. Taken together, it was still too challenging for the lion's head in the mid-2000s. Like the mythical Icarus, Black and White 2 is also trying to soar, trying to bring the God simulation game into heaven, but it fails to do so, and its end is burned by the sun and falls to the ground.

Although Black and White 2 initiates such a doomed charge, it can still bring you a wonderful stand-alone gaming experience.

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