Like many reviewers across the Internet, I tried desperately to love this game. As a huge fan of the original, I thought the sequel would be epic, blending numerous genres to form a strategy game the likes of which has never been seen. What I got instead was an exercise in repetition, one that thoroughly bastardizes the previous game’s original and highly unique concept.
The storyline is simple: the ancient Greeks have just been bitch-slapped by the Aztecs. (I know; it makes no sense). Now you, as their god, must lead them back to glory, conquering eight island “levels” until you finally develop a civilization strong enough to challenge the mighty Aztecs. And that’s it. In fact, the story is so inconsequential that it already sets the game off on the wrong foot.
You conquer each island by assuming the role of a benevolent and good god or an evil, malicious, warmongering one. Each path has a different conquest strategy, but they share one thing in common: no matter what direction you go, you’re likely to be bored as hell (or heaven perhaps).
As a good god, you assimilate neighboring villages by creating a “city on a hill” that is a shining beacon of your glory. Reputation points are accumulated by plopping down buildings and little monuments. Gain enough rep points and other villages will migrate to your city until you’ve beat the map. The formula is simple: the bigger the building, the more reputation you gain.
Supposedly, you can expedite this process by planning an aesthetically-pleasing city. Although I’ve come to discover that this, too, is inconsequential. Urban sprawl is the fastest way to success. And trust me, as boring as city building is, success couldn’t come fast enough.
While B&W2 boasts a more developed city building model than the original game, it’s still too simplistic to be considered “fun”. (This is coming from a veteran of nearly every city simulation ever made.) A recurring problem is how Lionhead Studios tries to cram so many genres into one package – ultimately with little success.
City building and management is a perfect example. Villagers must be assigned various roles (farmer, refiner, breeder, etc.) if you want to speed production. But guess what? The only way to do this is by individually picking the people up and placing them on what resource or building you want them to work. As you can imagine, this becomes increasingly frustrating as your population grows to the 300 range.