Populous (Krisalis) Review | Acorn Computing - Everygamegoing


By Krisalis
Archimedes A3000

Published in Acorn Computing #116

Playing Gods


This unique game is perfect for the Archimedes and I was extremely happy to see it ported from the Atari ST.

The music is the first thing that hits you, creating an atmosphere of mystery as you are coaxed into choosing from Conquest, Tutorial or Custom.

These are the three ways to approach your first sitting. Custom allows you to change the game parameters to test your skill as a world leader, the Tutorial option with the manual in hand takes you through the whole sequence, while with Conquest it's you versus the computer in a titanic fight of good against evil.

The main screen can be divided into four for ease of description. To the left is a book of worlds or levels. Genesis is the first and is a land of grassy plains.

In the middle of the screen is the area you are affecting. You can change to any part of the world by clicking the mouse on the part of the map you want to go to or move in small steps using the arrows on the chequered board which is your control panel.

Here you can make the decisions to affect the lives of your blue tribe - so caled because of the coour of their clothes and flag - create knights to protect them, swamps, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes to destroy or hinder your opposition and so on.

You can alter your attributes using the balance icon and set otions via the world icon. These are many and varied, but to give you a feel you can make life easier by allowing yourself the option of natural disasters while denying your opponent and weakening his reactions.

There are two sliding scales. The larger shows your power or manner and determines your ability to make things happen. The second surrounds the shield which tells how the two populations are doing.

Each time you load a screen you are told the type of land it is and salient facts such as the water is fatal and the swamps bottomless. This is important as it affects the techniques to be used in the game

You can only build when you can see the blue flag of your tribe or when one of your tribe is present - it depends upon the world you're playing.

The first thing to do is to create land - the flatter the better. This is done by using Select to build and Adjust to take a block down. This is all done on the central area which is a 3D plan of the area.

As you flatten the ground, your tribe build huts, and cultivate the fields - the pattern of the land changes to show this - breed and build log cabins stone houses, stone roundhouses and castles.

The evil horde are dressed in red, and you'll find that eventually they build a causeway to your land mass. Now is the time to discover the mysteries of your ankh and create a knight who will burn and pillage for you.

The icons on the chequered board give you the options to make your people settle, join into larger groups, gather at their spiritual symbol - the ankh - and go to battle.

If they gather at the ankh they eventually turn into a very powerful group that can be converted into a free-ranging knight. For ultimate destruction there is always the armageddon option.

On an ARM2 machine there's a certain amount of slow down when the world is about a third full of people. On an ARM3 the slow down occurs at about twice that figure - the ST was just slow anyway.

The better you perform the higher your score and the more challenging the next screen. A game of infinite possibilities which is as brilliant today as it was when I first played it. If you buy nothing else this year, buy Populous.

Steve Turnbull

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