Bullfrog is back! It's been a long time since Dungeon
Keeper came out, but the makers of some of the most
humorous and entertaining games ever are back with another
title. Bullfrog is reknowned for making games that just set
themselves apart from the rest of the gaming world. They may
fit into certain genre, but any angle Bullfrog takes creates a
classic game nothing like other games. Theme Hospital and
Theme Park were great ways to adapt the SimCity genre into
something other then the semi-serious city building ideals and
create games that people would love without the violence
levels in other "classics." Dungeon Keeper brought a extremely
creative, be it sadistic, real time game that I thoroughly
enjoyed. When I first started seeing articles on the, at the time,
upcoming Populous 3, I couldn't wait. It just looked like
traditional Bullfrog and I'd really get my entertainment from it.
Without further adieu...
It's yet another "overlord, god" type game. You
control your population in an attempt to overthrow the other
gods by destroying their people. It has 360 degree rotational
graphics (much similar to Myth). It is well designed with 25
levels of worlds to conquer. Build up your cities to strengthen
your powers and then user your armies and a selection of 22
spells to annihilate your enemies.
The graphics are stunning right from the beginning.
It has a badass spotlight effect from your cursor and all the
main menu items are shadowed. I've never seen another game
that used anything this detailed for their main menu. I was
pretty much pumped to get into the game right there so off I
went. The levels each start off with a quick flyby so you can get
a good view of where everything is. The view is quite
impressive. You don't scroll across a flat world. It's curved just
like a real planet would be. The ground is very realistically
done and is totally 3D. You can pull up a spinning globe so you
can click and go to any place you'd like on the world. The
game feels a little like Myth or RiverWorld since the isometric
view is somewhat similar. The spells and powerups each have
very nicely done effects. They may not have the greatest 3D
effects that are out today, but the world is too richly detailed to
care that much about them. It supports D3D and software
rendering. The only real thing I didn't like about the graphics
were the units. They looked too flat and pixelated, but they're
going to die anyways so what's the big deal?
The sound also is amazing. It creates a superb
environment by creating a rich musical background. The sound
effects are also well done. It does have positional sound which
allows for some decent 3D sound. Spells have unique and
fitting sound effect, units acknowledge orders and scream
when they get killed or hit. My main pet peeves were the
acknowledgements were not a real language and they were
semi-repetitious. The powerups were a little too loud and
explosive and didn't fit as well.
There's some good gameplay in Populous 3. It's
definitely not as unique as Dungeon Keeper was, but how often
do you get to play god? Most of the gameplay isn't real genre
busting. Pretty much build your houses to get people and train
the people to do your dirty work. You start out the game with
very little and you will gain new powers as you progress
through the levels, which include new spells and new
buildings. You gain new items by worshipping at various
totems throughout the world. These will also grant you
powerups or change part of the surroundings. I noticed a
couple of problems with the pathfinding, but for the most part,
the control was smooth. It's isometric like Myth so it may take a
few minutes to become accustomed to the 3D view.
Populous 3 follows its Bullfrog predecessors and
creates an entertaining game that should keep the gamer
involved for hours. It's got plenty of bells and whistles and a
good strategy feel to it. It is a little on the hard side, so it may
cause a little bit of frustration, but it still boils down to be
enjoyable for gamers of every type.
This is one sweet multiplayer. On my 28.8 connection
I had very few problems, mostly the occasional lag. It's pretty
fun as well. I personally enjoyed raining spells down on
Horde's "little troopers" as he tried to attack my base while my
minions charged off to crush any survivors. All the normal
multiplayer options are here. It does allow you to play in teams
with up to three teams which makes it a good game to play
with a bunch of your friends (or the random internet gamer).
Populous 3 does exactly what Bullfrog appears to
have wanted to achieve. A fun and interesting God game that
will keep the gamers attention. It's well done and a big kudos
should go to Bullfrog for maintaining their creative edge on the
competition and creating yet another game that just doesn't fit
evenly in its genre.
Highs: Nice 3D Worlds, entertaining, nicely detailed
Lows: some minor nuisances in graphics, sound, and
pathfinding, maybe a little too hard.