Black & White: Creature Isle
Windows - 2002
Description of Black & White: Creature Isle Windows
When Black and White was finally unveiled last year, amid a storm of hype not encountered since the last Star Wars film was released, it certainly had its fair share of controversy. Although the game gained many loyal fans and a glowing review here at Games Domain, some nasty bugs emerged soon after its release, and it took a series of patches to get the game up to a suitable standard. Commendably, the game's developers at Lionhead added new features as they went along - but clearly they've reached either the limits of what they can do with a downloadable patch or, more cynically, the extent of what they were prepared to do for free. As such, the next step in Black and White'sevolution is this expansion pack, Creature Isle.
For the unfortunate handful that missed the first game, here's a recap. You, a god, had to convert a number of villages by getting them to worship you. This gave you mana, which you could use to cast a variety of miracles. You also acquired a creature that you could teach and guide as he matured. He could do anything you can do -- except build -- and soon became a useful tool for impressing new villages. It's a simple concept, but the complex and innovative AI behind the creature made the game astonishingly compelling. It responded to your behaviour, continually giving you choices between a merciful, kind approach and a violent, vengeful one. As your creature watched your responses, he would, over many hours, turn into a sparkling angelic apparition or a hunchbacked, clawed monster.
Creature Isle takes you and your creature to a new group of islands. Rather than being spread over a number of landscapes like the first game, it's just set on one (albeit large) atoll. Washed up on a new beach, you meet an organisation of godless creatures called the Brotherhood. To gain admission, your creature must complete a series of trials designed to test a variety of his skills, from bowling to running to gardening.
There's always four or five of the trials on offer, from the eighteen in the game. Each one is posed by one of the members of the Brotherhood - the tortoise wants you to beat him in a race (cheating encouraged), the mandrill wants you to beat him at soccer and the wolf wants to play a game of hide-and-seek. Winning earns you the right to swap your creature's form to that of the creature you beat, and you can also challenge that creature to a fight if you want.
One of the challenges is different to the rest, though. Tucked away on one corner of the island is an egg, perched precariously in a tree. You must guide your creature to the egg, then put it somewhere warm to hatch. The resulting baby -- a chicken called Tyke -- follows your creature around and learns from him, just as your creature learns from you. The challenge is to bring Tyke up well, and teach him the skills he needs. Success will earn you a feathered helper, and perhaps catch the eye of a mysterious female creature that lives on the island...
If you, like us, finished playing Black and Whiteand uninstalled it, you might find some frustrations with this expansion pack. Although it's great to have an excuse to play such an enjoyable game again, you will have lost your creature, unless you had the sense to back him up first. Without one, you're allotted an ape with a few basic skills and will likely be haunted by the desire for your old creature back, with his many, many hours of careful guidance and training. As it is, for much of the game we were attempting to train two creatures at once - not a particularly rewarding experience. Mind you, this is not the fault of the game, but it's a point to be aware of nonetheless.
One other trial will enable your creature to learn to build, an ability denied him in the first game. Our ape (not to mention Tyke) picked it up quickly -- learning speed seems to be increased in this version -- but proved reluctant to put his new skill to work helping the villagers.
However, although the trials are meant to be testing the abilities of your creature, in actual fact, it's you who has to complete the trials. The arcade-based games, like marbles and bowling (and the indescribable trial involving a giant crossbow, some flowers and a man with a donkey's head) require you to throw or manipulate objects using the game's physics system. The racing and soccer games make you direct his movements using the leashes and carefully placed clicks, and the board game against the ogre is just plain luck. It's hard to shake the feeling that you're playing a Black and White-themed 70s boxed board game compilation rather than a modern and innovative piece of software.
Worse than this, though, is the fact that no matter how advanced your creature is, success is down to your direct actions. In the original game, there was often no direct way to influence events - you had to rely on your creature to make things happen, and the bonding this encouraged was one of the game's most endearing qualities. Now he's reduced to the level of a pawn, rather than the living, breathing pet that Black and White simulated so effectively.
There are some fun trials, however - the fight with the rhino stands out, as he pulls all sorts of moves on you, and he's satisfyingly tough to beat. Sadly, though, most of the games are frustrating and (thanks to the ponderous physics engine that suited the first game so well) slow moving and dull. Often the game feels more like a test of patience than anything else.
But there's a more serious problem with Creature Isle. Making an expansion pack isn't difficult - you create a new set of content, preserving what was good about the original game while moving the focus away from the bad. Creature Isle has little concentration on impressing villagers and building, losing much of the RTS feel of the original; broadly, this is a good thing. What's not good is that it doesn't concentrate tightly enough on the creature-centred tasks of the original. Its key omission, though, comes in the loss of the original's delightfully open-ended nature. There is no "good" or "bad' way to win a bowling match -- you either win or you lose -- in which case all you need to do is try again.
Though the additions to Creature Isle will probably please the Black and White hardcore fans, and provide those more casual players with an excuse to bury themselves in its world again, it's ultimately a hollow experience. Without the good/bad paradigm, and minus the concentration on your creature's abilities rather than your own, it's lost most of the points that made it so totally absorbing. Fun for a while, but lacking in long-term value, Creature Isle can only be recommended for those desperate for a new Black and White fix.
Review By GamesDomain
Black & White: Creature Isle is an addon for Black & White, you will need the original game to play.
How to play Black & White: Creature Isle Windows
Making B&W work on Win 7/8/10 is kinda tricky, as you would expect from a game made more than 15 years ago. Hopefully, BW player Lant made a very good tutorial on BAWSite.com. You'll find many more files to download from this website, made by ".", creator of BaW Patch, BaW Graphics Mod Manager, BaW Version Restorer.
Comments and reviews
Carl 2019-02-16 -1 point
Back & White no prob with install, patches, addons. Creature Isle no prob install. But game won't save for some reason. any ideas?
Mark Langdahl 2018-12-30 1 point
A little hint: The game basically has borked graphics settings meaning that if you have more than I believe 128 MB of video memory the game gets an overflow resulting in you getting the worst possible textures in the game. You can get around this by using a Direct3D wrapper like dgVoodoo. Just unzip the dll files from the MS folder into the game folder together with the config exe and set it to use GeForce 4 settings. Then it should look its best even on modern hardware.
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