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Black & White 2 in black and white

Lionhead rules out online play - at least for now - and says the turtle won't be popping his head out again. Also: a release date estimate.

Lionhead Studios has revealed that Black & White 2 will only offer solo play to begin with, but that a multiplayer add-on could follow. The UK developer also said that the game should in be shops by the end of the year.

"We're hoping to finish Black & White 2 in 2005 and we're pretty confident about it," said a representative, referring to a recent statement by Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux which said the game was slated for an autumn release.

"We're currently focusing on finishing the single-player version of Black & White 2 and will probably not include multiplayer," the representative went on, before adding that a multiplayer mode may be offered later: "We're hoping for this to be an expansion or download that could be released after the initial game has come out.

"Obviously this will allow us to make the single-player game balanced, polished and beautiful to look at."

Lionhead also says there will be less creatures in Black & White 2, and that the Turtle won't be making a reappearance. However, the Ape, Cow and Lion will be back and they'll be "more fun; more advanced and have much more personality.

"We'd rather have more differences and skills on fewer creatures than have tons of creatures with a limited amount to do; quality, not quantity!" explained Lionhead. And, it added, those characters not returning may get a comeback at some point: "The Turtle is popular, so who knows what we'll do next..."

Lionhead also revealed more details about the soldiers in B&W2, such as the fact that they will behave independently of the player. "Soldiers will occasionally sit around a campfire if they're idle and will gather around their tents when they're building up forces.

"Your platoons will also do cool stuff when they're out on the battlefield, like practicing combat."

The developer also confirmed that players on both sides of the moral divide can command armies: "Yes, you can have an army and defend yourself and still be good. We're not completely going to spoil the adventure but let's just say that armies are not only for evil players in Black & White 2."

We'll bring you news of a confirmed release date for B&W2 as soon as we get it.