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I'm at level 79 and so far there's been no challenge to any level. It just feels like a tedious waste of time while I wait to get to higher levels where I actually have to think to win.

The part that makes it even worse, is that if I just win really quickly then the game gives me a lower score and so I get no lightning bolt upgrades and don't advance as many levels forward. Ironic, because if I can dominate your level in only a few minutes I should get max score.

Funny thing is, I ran into similar problems on the SNES version of populous 1. I'm around level 100 at the moment and my interest in it is waning because I feel like the path to victory is too predictable (Spread fast by keeping things as small settlements. Start upgrading some to castles when you need mana. Then spam swamps in the enemy land to cripple them and never let them gain an advantage over you again by continuing to do it. Finish them off with knights or a flood, depending on what tools you have available). At least what the SNES version has going for it is that it's sometimes more challenging because of the scenerio limitations, and if feels like you have more decisions to make about how to expand which will determine whether or not you are successful.

Populous 2 is worse so far because there's not even any sense of challenge whatsoever. It never feels like any of your decisions matter because the AI is so bad you'll always outgrow and crush them. It's just a matter of tedious time to go through the motions. At least with #1 you could legitimately screw up early on and lose, or struggle to establish that initial advantage, or struggle to deal with an enemy that starts with an advantage and then try to overcome that.

The worst part about populous 2, and how much easier it is, is that the faster you win the game the worse the game thinks you did, so you advance slower. Merely because by ending the game quickly you weren't able to pad your score according to the metrics the game set up (#1 has similar scoring problems, but the effect is not as pronounced because it's not as trivially easy to win super quick).

I discovered in earlier levels of #2, because I can modify terrain anywhere, that all I had to do to win was to immediately turn the enemy settlement area into a pyramid so they had no place to settle, then all their walkers died. Game over. But instead of the game recognizing my superiority, it advances me only +2 levels with no lightning bolt experience.

So it makes things even more tedious where I feel like I'm forced to tease out the game's length and artificially increase the casualty count just to make pad my score. Then I earn maybe at most two lightning bolts and go +5-+7 levels. I turned on computer assist and literally spent my time flattening the enemy's terrain in order to make them grow faster, so I could kill more of them and pad my score faster. So it's the worst of both worlds, not a challenge but also takes longer to finish. I'm forced to up the game speed to maximum to pad my score more while wasting less of my time in the process.

Around level 70 in #2 it seems like the enemy is starting to expand faster but winning is still trivially easy. Especially when you have computer assist on you'll always out-expand and out-grow the enemy by massive proportions.
Although really all the computer assist does is remove tedium, stuff you were going to do anyway, but it's not fun to have to constantly be babysitting land expansion and sprogging. So to me, removing computer assist to handicap myself would not make the game more fun just more tedious. It might make the game more challenging by handicapping my expansion speed, but it won't make the game more challenging in terms of requiring me to think more, which is where the fun is had.

In the SNES version of populous 1, which is my only other experience in these games besides black and white, ironically expanding is less tedious in that game despite using a controller because you have many hotkey button combos that automate a lot of processes for you. You have a button that will automatically flatten the land around a settlement to make it into a castle. And a button that will automatically jump you to settlements that aren't castles. And a button that will lower or raise a large chunk of land at a time, not just one units worth per click. Ironically when trying the PC version of populous 2 I find myself feeling like expansion is more tedious, despite having a mouse.
Post edited May 31, 2019 by rjl90808
Some of you might think it sounds like I'm hating on populous, but that's not my intention.

The SNES version of #1 was my first populous experience renting the game as a kid. I liked it so much that, although I never bought the game, I did buy Black and White when it came out purely based on my limited experience with populous.

I've recently been thinking about how I regret I never played more of populous 1 on the SNES, and then while reading about populous 2 came to conclude I wanted to play that as well because it was probably even better (unfortunately B&W was incomplete, and I think not a very good game on it's own. More like the basis of what could be a good game. So playing B&W2 is still on my wishlist because I suspect that is probably the game #1 was suppose to be).

Just recently I bought a $5 copy of populous to play on my old SNES that I found locally by chance at a pawn shop.
Then I discovered I could buy #2 for the PC for only $1.50, so I can't pass up a deal like that.

I still expect to like #2, if only I can reach a point where I feel like it's a challenge.
I'm not sure if #1 will become much more interesting for me even at later levels, because I'm not sure if the dynamics of how I win will change much. I feel like, at this point, #1 is the puzzle I've already solved. Unless later levels shake that up, it might just keep feeling like I'm doing the same thing each game and nothing has really changed.

But I feel like #2 gives me a lot of potential options at least with a vastly increased array of powers and customization, so it might be more interesting to experiment with them.
I just haven't even reached the point in the game where I feel like I even need to use these destructive tools to gain a progressive advantage over the enemy. I always have a massive advantage all game long, so the destructive powers just become something I use to end the game after I've grown sufficiently to pad my score.
At least in #1 there's a legitimate sense of feeling like I struggle to out-grow my opponent (on some levels), and a legitimate needs to use powers at some point to establish a lead and hold it. Even if the way I do that starts to feel too predictable, the need is at least there and sometimes it's a challenge.
Post edited May 31, 2019 by rjl90808
Finally had a game that posed some semblance of challenge at 137.
But that was probably only because they removed right click sprong, and therefore the automated AI assistance only caused more harm than good.
I had to be smart about expansion to not let the enemy get a huge lead over me in growth, and try to hold them back with swamps.
Much like populous though, once I had enough mana to spam swamps it was all over for the enemy. They still don't know how to repair their own land from swamps, much like populous 1.
Well, to be fair, there are 1000 levels in Pop2. (You skip more levels at a time the higher your score is, so thankfully you don't have to play all 1000 of them) Being at level 100ish is less than 10% into the game. And, yes, it does get a lot more varied and difficult to beat different maps. There are maps where you cannot alter terrain, or even not allowed to sprog - and since your enemy sometimes has a different set of rules than you, sometimes on maps where you can't change terrain, THEY still can. The list of available abilities changes per map; some have lot of abilities, some only have a handful (or even only 1, I've seen this on later maps). Even the same Diety that you fight against over certain chains of maps changes it's AI behavior from game to game. So there's definitely some variety in the matches as you advance in levels to the final battle with Zeus.

I will agree with you though, the scoring system (and by proxy, the level advancement) can easily turn into an exercise in tedium if you do not 'cast' enough each match (What?! A God simulator scores based on miracles cast?! /sarcasm) no matter how quickly one's foes are defeated. You don't seem to score extra by winning quickly, you only seem to lose score by taking too long.
Post edited September 13, 2021 by Kyrros