Black & White: Creature Isle
OK, let's be honest. Black & White requires time - lots and lots of time, and Creature Isle is no different, albeit in a slightly different way. As the title suggests, Creature Isle is in fact all about the creatures. Excessive village micromanagement is a thing of the past here, and with only three villages on the entire island you can concentrate on teaching miracles and actions to your two creatures (yes, two - but more on that later), instead of spending hours impressing good-for-nothing lazy villagers.
Nearly all your time on this godless rock will be spent 'at school' or completing the game's 25 trials set by the 20 creatures (known as the Brotherhood) who live there. Basically the more miracles your dynamic duo learn, the more trials they are capable of completing. Ultimately you need to complete every test on the isle so your own creature can also become a member of the coveted Brotherhood of Creatures.
Trials And Tribulations
So what sort of teasers await you? Well, not far into the game a large talking horse asks you to tend his special crop for him. Now unless your slow-witted students have learnt the water miracle, your equine friend's crops will wither and die. Other trials require you, the land's only god, to cast a few miracles of your own. The bad-tempered race against the tortoise for example can only be won once you've impressed a certain village and obtained the handy 'freeze creature' miracle.
While admittedly varied, a fair few of these trials are actually quite dull. The bowling game and marbles contest take far too long; the aforementioned crop-growing trial is a serious contender for dullest sub-game of the year and the hide-and-seek wolf trial is as simple as it gets (you have to find a wolf who thinks he's invisible but actually isn't).
The trials are also more action-based than before and generally require nothing more than nifty mouse skills as opposed to any kind of moral concern for those involved. The alignment-altering outcomes of IV have been axed in favour of a method that's, well, much more black and white really; in C/you either win or lose - there is no in between and there is very little good or evil.
Chicken And Egg
As mentioned earlier, part of the novelty of Cl is the fact that there are two creatures to train. Without going into too much detail, your creature comes across an egg from which a chicken called Tyke hatches. Tyke learns by simply watching what your supposedly educated creature does. In reality it just doesn't happen that way.
Frankly, little Tyke is a total pain in the arse. He plays with his toys instead of watching your creature perform miracles and then falls asleep when he's tired himself out. Actually getting him to leam anything can be a nightmare especially if your own creature is not in a teaching mood. What's more, it appears that the only reason Tyke is even here (any trial can be completed without him) is so that your creature can attract a mate by displaying his exemplary fathering skills. Don't expect any hardcore farmyard sex mind you; your prospective shag stays well hidden, watching progress from afar and analysing whether old 'fatso' will even be an appropriate mate. In fact, the chances are your poor beast won't even get a sniff of action unless he possesses the paternal genius of David Beckham.
Waiting For A Sign
Cl does contain other subtle changes that set it apart from B&W. Your creature can now construct towns by learning the skill from one of the Brotherhood, and there are new miracles such as the creature speed-up miracle. The lack of other Gods also means defensive miracles like spiritual shield and physical shield are no longer needed.
Actually, it's quite weird not having an enemy to fight. The resulting peace and tranquillity coupled with the extra time spent pissing about with your creature definitely gives Comuch more of an RPG feel than ASH'ever had. Unfortunately, it also means that at times it lacks direction. You almost wish a god would appear and start hurting fireballs just to spice things up. Still, as an add-on pack C/is significantly different from B&W and will delight those who are gagging for that extra B&Wfn. However, more important than that, Cl manages to successfully switch the primary gameplay emphasis from micromanagement to creature - and judging from the feedback that we've received at ZONE this was the most sensible move Lionhead could have ever made.
So, the future of Black & White now lies solely and firmly in the incapable hands of our own beloved creatures. God help us all.
Download Black & White: Creature Isle
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Creature Isle is a place the gods forgot, or perhaps never found. The strange island is inhabited by godless creatures who have formed a Brotherhood. The game starts out with your creature happening upon the isle and being invited to join the Brotherhood and earn their sacred mark. To do so your creature must endure a series of ritualistic trials'Arcanum tests that will quickly separate the strong from the weak. Games like sparring, sheep herding and the dreaded... Bowling? Okay, okay so it's not exactly walking across hot coals or stealing eggs from an angry eagle, but what do you expect from the godless? In a way bowling makes sense.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Think of Creature Isle as a sort of club med for creatures, a place where your creature can go to soak up the sun and kick back with some creature-esque games. The basic premise of the game is that your creature is trying to earn entry into the "Brotherhood" which will in turn give him a chance to hook up with Eve, the island's only female. Rrrrrrr.
This sequel to the off-beat and surprisingly refreshing Black & White shares most of the elements of the original game, but strips away a lot of the annoying and often boring poorly crafted bits.
In Creature Isle you are the only god so you don't have to worry about battling for subjects. Instead you can concentrate on what made the original game so fun, your creature. Better yet, early on in the game your creature gets a chance at his very own creature'a giant chick named Tyke. Tyke is one of the more inventive bits of the game. Instead of relying on you to rear and influence Tyke, the baby creature is raised by your creature. Just like in the original game, Tyke's trainer influences his abilities, personality and general behavior. It's quite bizarre to watch the mini-creature running around after your giant seeking approval and trying to learn powers. Unfortunately as fun as Tyke may be, the rest of the game is really just a series of mini-games. Some of these games can be quite fun, but overall they don't make for a fun game.
To complete the game you'll have to go through and complete each mini-game successfully. So you'll find most of your time spent, for instance, patiently bowling your heart out against the island's champion bowler, a giant cow, or trying to herd in a flock of sheep for their oversized brethren. The games, while sometimes intriguing, can become quite annoying after awhile.
Controls are at best a practice in generalities. It's one thing to get your creature to pick up a boulder or rescue a drowning villager, but quite another to try and get it to play marbles or move scurrying sheep into a haddock with a time limit. And while the games can be replayed as often as you like or need to, the introduction cut-scenes are replayed each time with no sort of escape. Once you manage to complete one of these tasks, the creature you beat makes his way back to the island's Dojo where you can take him on in a little fur flying one-on-one action. You can also swap your creature's bodies with any of the defeated creatures, given you enterace to a whole new menagerie of potential creatures.
The graphics remain mostly unchanged in this expansion, with the game still featuring breathtaking creature and villager animation and the occasional polygon problems.
Audio too remains unchanged in Creature Isle.
Black & White: Creature Isle leans more toward a sim than did its predecessor, cutting out the need to battle threatening gods or micro-manage a village. Instead you spend much of your time hanging out with a pack of other godless creatures playing inventive, if not occasionally irritating games. Perhaps Sims: Black & White would have been a better title. In many ways this can be a good thing. There were tons of people out there who hated the original game because of the need to watch over every little aspect of a village and the potential for your battle over a village to become one of minor miracles and rarely permanent loyalties. But on the other hand, the game's original content and unique approach won it the attention of many loyal followers.The bottom line is this expansion has just as much potential to both infuriate and delight gamers, and will likely earn a split crowd of followers and haters.