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Review: 'Black & White' the best PC game ever?


 

Platform: PC

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(IDG) -- By creating a beautiful living world in which you can do almost anything -- good, bad, or in between -- "Black & White" miraculously pulls you in and doesn't let go until you've sacrificed many hours.

The heart of the game is expanding your influence by converting villages with miracles -- fireballs, lightning, rain, food, and more. You also have a giant creature -- at first a gorilla, cow, or tiger -- whom you teach to be your physical surrogate. Thanks to impressive A.I., your creature grows incredibly smart and powerful depending on how you respond to his actions (with slapping or stroking), and it does some surprising things without your prompting.

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What makes "Black & White" so impressive is the feeling it gives of tinkering with a real world. The islands have forests of individual trees; oceans filled with fish; fields of cows and sheep; changing weather and daylight; and you can view it all from almost any angle.

So clear your calendar and dust off your dormant megalomania. It's time to show the people who's boss.

Graphics: 5.0 -- "Black & White" is the best-looking RTS -- if not PC game -- yet. In seconds, you can zoom in to see the roots of an upturned tree or a villager kissing his girlfriend, then zoom out to see the whole mist-shrouded island at once.

Sound: 5.0 -- When you zoom in on a cow, you hear it moo. Cast a water miracle, and you hear a harp playing as the water patters to the ground. Your inner-voices are always speaking to you, too -- Evil with a tough Bronx accent and Good with an angelic lilt.

Control: 5.0 -- The control scheme is masterful. You can do everything from making villagers breed to slapping your creature, all with the mouse (not to mention panning and zooming the camera anywhere and everywhere). The coolest touch is casting miracles by moving your mouse in a specific shape.

Fun Factor: 5.0 -- "Black & White" is a huge, wonderful game that defies comparison to anything other than an incredibly complex Tamagochi or a virtual ant farm populated with people. Even after many hours (which go by like minutes), you'll still be amazed by the things you and your creature can do.



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