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Black & White: Creature Isle

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  Reviewed by Erich Becker
March 18, 2002
Electronic Arts (Win) / MacPlay (Mac)
Lionhead Studios
Black & White was one of the top strategy games released last year. While I won’t sit here and review the original game — because if you are remotely interested in this review, you no doubt own a copy — I will tell you that the game’s first expansion builds upon the greatness of the first game, but fails to live up to the high expectations of gamers looking for more of a classic strategy game.

Creature Isle takes place on an island of master-less creatures who have joined together in a pact and created a Brotherhood to protect the good from the bad. Using a series of trials, this Brotherhood will test your, and your creature’s, abilities to gain admittance. Running through each of the creatures’ trials or tests, you will gain their support for membership. Sound like a high deity frat house?

Where the original game focused on the moral obligation of right and wrong, the expansion focuses on mini games and the ultimate prize of winning the affection of the mysterious creature named Eve. The problem is that most players who craved the strategy aspect of Black & White will be disappointed that it isn’t carried over to Creature Isle. Games and winning is more of chance and simple puzzle solving, and most tasks, no matter how out of place and mundane, can be completed fairly easily.

The mini games range from bowling with a cow to marbles with an ape. Some of the games and challenges are rewarding, such as the removing of a curse and the stopping of marauders from destroying and looting a town seem to fit in with the game more. They’re generally more fun than tossing balls at pins with a cow you want to break over your knee.

Relatively, the basics of the game remain unchanged. Graphics are just as beautiful as ever, and some of the serious graphical problems I experienced in the first game are no longer present. Sound is up to the high quality standards as the first, as well as music. The voice acting is very, very well done and shows the high production values associated with the series in general. Basic controls are unchanged, easy to learn and very intuitive. A simple two-button wheel mouse is all you need to have full control of the world at your fingertips.

The biggest addition to Creature Isle, and therefore Black & White, was the addition of Tyke. Tyke is a small chicken that hatches from an egg in one of the first challenges given to you by the townspeople. The small creature learns from your creature, which in turn learned and learns, from you. Once Tyke has the experience to know what to do, he can be a very valuable asset to the game, but I can’t help but feel he would have made an even greater asset in the first.

Creature Isle is a nice collection of mini-games and a nice addition to the overall Black & White experience, but the game won’t be able to stand up to pure strategy gamers, or those who cherished and expected the same serious undertone as in the first game. Creature Isle is a nice, comic diversion into the B&W universe, but is not a full serving of the original’s gameplay, as some would have liked. Ultimately, the game serves up a weekend’s worth of fun, and stokes the flames of gamers craving Black and White 2 even more.

(Click to Enlarge)

Minimum Requirements...
Pentium II 350 MHz ; 8 MB video RAM; 3D Graphics Accelerator; 200 MB hard drive space; 64 MB RAM; quad-speed CD-ROM; original Black & White game.
Mac OS 9.1 or OS X 10.1.3 or better; G3/333 Mhz; 128 MB RAM; 1.5 GB Hard Disk space; 8 MB 3D Graphics


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