Black & White 2

Peter Molyneux slams a foot-tall pile of densely typed design documents in front of us. The sheer weight of paper brings to mind less Black & White, and more War and Peace.

An apt parallel, given the game of dual moralities Molyneux and designer Ron Miller are trying to create. Good players build and nurture; bad players destroy. One is a god of peace; one is a god of war. Half city building; half RTS.

You're asked to manage (not necessarily care for) a civilisation, in a reactive, physical world. "For me," says Molyneaux, "it's all about personal cruelty, about being individually cruel to people.

"Where the first game failed in my opinion is me not thinking, 'I don't like that, over there. I'm going to totally (Welly - Ed) it.'" Molyneaux, then, enjoys the War option - taking an aggressive route to total domination.

This option means raising an army from your civilians, then marching them to war, using military might and cunning tactics to achieve victory. Your in-game creature, 200 feet and twenty tons of dastardly AI, is your ultimate unit, backed up by all the men you can find. By dragging a formation's banner onto the creature, they'll then follow his moves.

Ron, meanwhile, is laying out his ideal city. This is the peaceful route, taking inspiration from city management games such as Caesar. You're working to create a marvellous civilisation, attracting residents from across the land.

Ron draws out plans for great defensive walls, and literally drags them to sufficient height. "I want to protect us from the outside," he says, distractedly drawing out great curves. "Walls are important because they protect your people - the more protected your people feel, the more they'll breed.

"They can be ridiculously high, but they obviously take a lot of resources. You can put anything you like on your wall, archers, maybe even catapults. You make your own defences. You could place walls in ever decreasing steps, and have these huge Minas Tirith-like defences."

Roads come next, great curves and avenues, each painted on to the scenery. Buildings are placed. The finishing touch: with a wave of the hand the swaying grass is seeded with beautiful flowers.

This is all just cannon fodder for Molyneux. First, he scatters men and women across the fields with a simple flick of the wrist. Then he hurls rocks at the walls, knocking off the archers sitting atop, bashing great holes for an invading army.

But that's just showboating - real destruction is about to be unleashed. The remaining peasants are co-opted into constructing a great spire, towering over the city. They're building a miracle: a volcano.

Peter unleashes it on an opposing town. It breaks straight out of the ground, scattering innocents left and right. Fireballs rain down, followed by great lava streams. It's a great technological demonstration: the molten rock flows across the terrain, setting fire to everything in its path.

The first B&W lacked focus and structure. This is different: there are win conditions, objectives, just like any other RTS. But we'll reserve our judgement for now. Molyneux and Miller both have chapters left to write.

Black & White 2 is making its way to PC in May