Peter Molyneux is responsible for some of the most innovative and creative titles in PC gaming, proclaimed one of the “gods of gaming” in a major magazine some years ago. And if that isn’t true, he certainly is at least obsessed with becoming a god. He personally built the “god game” wing of the real-time strategy genre, and hasn’t stopped attempting to improve it since. The first game that won him recognition was Populous, which allowed you to use the powers of creation and destruction to lead your followers to total domination. Subsequent titles like Dungeon Keeper, allowed you to take on the role of a demon and torture and whip your way to power, all with little consequence for your evil and wanton methods.
But his more recent titles have been showing a little more introspection or at least some reflection on the true consequences of morality and our behaviors. Recently, Fable was supposed to have the main character’s appearance reflect his decisions as he either became a handsome and fair protector of truth, or a dark and tattooed advocate of chaos. Likewise, the original Black and White featured an animal avatar whose learned behavior would either have it helping you to build up your city or chomping on its citizens.
Black & White 2, follows the reflective pattern by again presenting you with a creature that learns from you and changes in response to your behavior. Once again, you must choose between a handful of largely unremarkable animals - an ape, a cow, a lion, or a wolf. Then, throughout the course of the game you must either slap or pet them in an effort to reinforce the various behaviors you observe them performing. At least that is how it was in the first game.
The original forced you to continually observe the giant creature in an effort to catch it just as it began the behavior. If you slapped it for eating a villager and it had already moved on to helping harvest wood, your opportunity to scold it would have to wait until he chose to eat another of your devotees in order to keep from dissuading it from adding to your lumber stockpile.
It sounds frustrating but actually led to some remarkable gameplay moments as you continually monitored the animal until you could trust it to do what you wanted. At the time it was a system that earned a lot of praise for its exploration of artificial intelligence, but some found it trying to determine the proper way to discipline your pet.