Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods (DOS)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  anton treuenfels (37)
Written on  :  Aug 14, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Prettier but not as much fun as the original

The Good

The graphics - much improved over the original 'Populous'. More colors, more detail, neat 'god power' animations (eg., form a little stormcloud over an unbeliever, then rain lightning down on him/her so shocking their skeleton flashes through just like classic cartoon animation. And then when you've decided they've had enough and quit, if they have indeed had enough all that's left is a little pile of ash...)

Character development - as you win battles against enemy gods, you can increase your godlike powers in specific areas. You're awarded one or more little 'lightning bolt' icons that you can distribute any way you wish to increase the effectiveness of your 'fire' powers, your 'wind' powers, etc. It's much like an RPG character development system.

The Bad

Wildly unbalanced battles - in the original, the battles seemed to get progressively harder but there always seemed to be a way to win (however many times you had to re-fight it until you did). In this sequel, some battles are literally impossible to win. In one battle my lone follower happened to start out on a single small rock in the middle of an ocean. Without enough mana to raise even one piece of flat land, there was absolutely nothing I could do except commit suicide. This is a design flaw, IMHO (didn't anyone actually play this one before including it?!). On the other hand, some battles were ridiculously easy to win - if the 'make wall' power was available, I could frequently get to my opponent's 'attractor' before he did, wall it up so he could never reach it, and so could never create 'hero' characters strong enough to oppose me.

The AI - although the 'gods' were given different names, they all fought pretty much the same way. None of them had any strategy or tactics that were noticeably different from any of the others. So long before the game ended I was simply applying lessons learned earlier to defeat 'new' opponents. It got sort of repetitious.

The endgame battle - I won, but it wasn't so much fun or challenging as simply tedious. It happened that the 'god powers' I needed to win it were precisely those that were my weakest, ie., the ones I hadn't enhanced as much as the others. I wondered if that was deliberate, and if the endgame itself changes to require your weakest powers whatever they happen to be. But I didn't care enough about the answer to actually go through it again and make some other area weaker.

The Bottom Line

Superior to the original in every way except actual gameplay.