Heaven & Hell is a battle between good and evil, but players are free to choose sides. Users will decide to recruit souls for paradise (if they're a good god) or the fiery circles (if they're feeling devilish). Each side has seven prophets, buildings, miracles, and plagues -- rainbows, angels, demons, lightning, earthquakes, floods -- and other means of influencing the souls under their sway. Day and night constantly cycle, which affects the population's susceptibility to good and evil. Multiplayer games allow up to eight players to compete for souls simultaneously.
Heaven & Hell... live and let die! lets you play as either a good or evil god as you convert the inhabitants of the planet to your way of thinking while trying to keep your nemeses from doing the same.
To start, Heaven & Hell provides several different gameplay options. You can select a single-player campaign, a single-player map, a random map, or multiplayer. These options make for near-infinite replayability, which is a nice touch ... if you're enjoying the game, that is.
The single-player campaign forces you to start as a good god, and takes you through a series of missions, which expand the roles of the various prophets you can create. Your primary goal in any mission is to convert more followers than your enemy gods. You do this through your prophets, but only two are actually capable of converting. The first one you'll get, Baptisbon, can perform miracles, such as creating a rainbow or showing an angel. If the followers are impressed enough (indicated by a line on the bar above their heads), he can then attempt to preach to them and convert them. You, as a god, can also help influence the mortals, in case a few are waffling. As a good god, you can pat mortals on the head, which increases their belief in you. A bad god can slap them around. Either way, it's tedious to do, and does nothing to make the game more interesting.
If your potential followers aren't where you need them to be (i.e. aren't listening to your preaching Baptisbon), you can also pick them up and drop them beside him. Followers are constantly wandering off, and you'll spend a lot of time picking them up and dropping them beside the Baptisbon so they can hear his sermon. The other six prophet types you can create, Camelbon, Beat-up-O'Bon, Construct O'Bon, Antibon, Clandibon, and Boss O'Bon (unfortunately, these are their names; their evil counterparts all end in "-mael") have other roles to play in your quest to take over the world. None of the abilities of any of the prophets is terribly interesting once the initial novelty of using them wears off.
If you're thinking that perhaps you'd rather play the evil side of Heaven & Hell, you'll find that their abilities are identical to the ones on the good side. Sure, the evil Beat-up-mael plays heavy metal to inspire his warriors instead of Beat-up O'Bon's heavenly choir, but other than the graphics and sound, the effect is exactly the same. In fact, neither good nor evil have anything truly unique to offer. Once you've played one side of the campaign, playing the other side is redundant unless you just want to see how the graphics look.
Graphically, Heaven & Hell looks good, in a quirky sort of way. It definitely contains some of the oddest graphics you'll find in a strategy title. Most of the buildings start out as huts and cottages and have a pseudo-medieval Arabian look to them. But then you'll upgrade a building and it'll have a rainbow-colored van beside it, with a 1960's hippy dude living there. Or maybe you'll see Elvis standing next to a woman in a Roman toga. It's the weirdest thing you'll ever see. The sound is rather standard, but the voice acting, little though there is, is well done.
Heaven & Hell's biggest problem is that the game is too simple and quickly becomes redundant. You have to babysit your Baptisbons (or Baptismaels) because they are your primary conversion characters. You'll spend an insane amount of time hunting down the followers of a town, picking them up, carrying them to where your prophet is showing his miracles, and then patting them on the head while the prophet preaches your ways. And you have to do all that while still controlling the other prophets, since they won't do anything on their own initiative.
Heaven & Hell could have been an interesting game, but the simplistic game mode means only the most casual of strategy gamer could possibly find anything to like for more than a mission or two.
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Heritage of Kings: The Settlers, Heist, Gangsters 2: Vendetta, Ground Control, Black & White 2, Ground Control II: Operation Exodus, Heroes of Might and Magic 3, Heroes of Might and Magic 4
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