ECTS 2001 hands-onBlack & White

Lionhead Studios' revolutionary god game may be coming to the PlayStation, but it's safe to say that a little something is lost in the translation.


Black & White

The PC version of Peter Molyneux's Black & White was lauded for being an unusual yet strangely compelling game. The game was designed to be simple to control, very open-ended, and yes, difficult to master. Would you be a good god or a bad god? Would you focus more on your villagers or on training your creature to look after them for you? Love it or hate it, there's definitely a lot to the game. The successful PC release is currently spawning multiple console releases. The PS2 and Xbox versions are scheduled to be released in the middle of next year. The PlayStation version is up first and is currently scheduled to hit European shelves on November 23. But for a game so close to completion, the version on display here at ECTS looks like it could use a little work.

Brown. If you had to sum up Black & White PS in one word, it would be "brown." The entire game has a dingy, muddy look to it, and objects such as buildings and villagers are difficult to make out. To add to the confusion, the game runs at around 10 to 15 frames per second, making movement and camera control extremely choppy.

The PC version of the game had control that took a bit of getting used to, but after some time, you could get used to controlling your movement with only your mouse. The PlayStation controller doesn't work so well. Normally, the left analog is used to move your hand around the landscape--moving it to the edge of your current view won't cause the world to scroll. The L1 and R1 buttons are used to rotate your viewpoint, and the right analog stick is used to move from a behind-the-hand perspective to an overhead perspective. It would appear that you aren't able to zoom out for a larger view of the action, as you could in the PC version. Holding R2 and moving the left analog stick scrolls your viewpoint around. The buttons are used for tasks like picking up objects and throwing them.

The PC version of the game used in-game cinemas, which worked very well and kept you in the game at all times. The PlayStation version uses FMV footage of the PC version to re-create those cinemas. Additionally, the PS version has the same voice work as the PC release.

While you can't really expect the PlayStation to duplicate a recent PC game graphically and controlwise, the PlayStation version of Black & White, due out in Europe next month, has the appearance of a game that still has another six months of development left to go.

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