The game sees you taking control of a Shaman of a tribe instead of a God influencing a tribe, as in the two previous Populous games. During the course of the games 25 levels you have to defeat three other Shamans' and their tribes in order to ascend to God-Hood. To do this you have to build a thriving village, train warriors, convert wild men and learn new spells.
The game marks a departure from the top down interface of the previous games, instead utilising a 3D engine and allowing for direct control over followers. This entry places the player in the shoes of a female Shaman, in command of a tribe on a quest for control of the solar system.
Battling against three other Shamans who are in command of the opposing Dakini, Chumara and Matak tribes, you must wrest control of the 24 planets which serve as the games levels. Upon the way the player is able to use spells, courtesy of Stone Heads initially which require worship in order to dispense a set number to the players advantage. Most spells become unlocked after the Shaman enters the Vault of Knowledge with the spells symbol above it and extracts the essence of the spell. Further Vaults also unlock buildings which allow the player to create stronger warriors, preachers to convert the wild men and braves from the other tribes and spies to add an espionage element to the game.
Upon completing the 24th level, the players Shaman becomes a God, and the 25th and final level becomes a free for all in which the player battles against all three other tribes in order to control the Solar System. The player is in this level omnipotent, able to cast spells an unlimited amount of times and from anywhere on the battlefield.
An expansion called Undiscovered Worlds was released in 1999, continuing the story after the main campaign. You play as a new Shaman in the same timeline as the last game, who has to restore peace to the Solar System.
Typically the player starts with only a Resurrection Site and a handful of tribesmen. In some levels a few buildings may already be pre-built, although usually the player must first begin to lay down houses to expand their population and generate Mana, required to cast spells. Regular braves are the construction Buildings such as warrior huts allow the creation of Warriors, a stronger fighting orientated unit capable of twice the amount of damage as a normal brave. In order to boost your population and train warriors. Several units can be trained. Normal villagers are needed for construction, which only uses wood. You also need villagers in huts to accumulate mana, and with this manna you can use spells. Only your Shaman can use spells, and every spell has a limited range. To beat a level, you need to kill every enemy villager and their Shaman. When every villager is killed, the Resurrection Site is destroyed, thus making it easier to kill the Shaman. With the site, the Shaman resurrects every time she dies.
The levels are all planets in a solar system. You start on the planet farthest out, and work your way in.
Shaman: The player's avatar within the game world- the Shaman is the most important unit in the game, as she is the only one who can cast the spells you have available. She has no other purpose aside from casting spells, and is not very useful as a direct combat unit. She has quite a bit more health than many of the unit types in the game, which allows her to directly fight against very low numbers of Braves and preachers in emergencies. But anything that's even remotely trained for combat, such as Warriors and Firewarriors, will make quick work of her if she's caught alone.
Brave: The worker unit of the game, maintaining a strong population of braves is important since they generate the most mana out of all the follower types available. They are also the only ones who can build buildings and gather wood. Outside of these tasks, Braves are very weak in combat- with Spies being the only other kind of follower they can beat on their own. If you're forced to use Braves against Warriors or Fire Warriors, make sure they outnumber them at least 5 to 1- as you're going to lose most of them.
Warrior: The simplest combat unit available for training- Warriors have the highest amount of health and direct combat damage output in the game. No other kind of follower in the game comes even close to their damage output in direct combat. These stats don't mean much if the odds are pitted completely against them by well-defended Fire Warriors, Preachers, or well placed spells though.
Preacher: A utility combat unit that can greatly snowball the user's war effort if not properly countered. If advanced upon, Preachers are able to stop most follower types in their tracks and make them sit down to listen to tales praising their Shaman and religion. Given enough time, these followers will be converted to that Preacher's faction. The only units that cannot be stopped by a Preacher's sermon are other Preachers and the Shaman herself. Proper use of these units or spells is key in preventing the enemy from converting an entire attack force. If lucky- Fire Warriors can also counter Preachers, as long as they have an elevated position that lets them out-range the Preacher.
Fire Warrior: The ranged combat unit of the game- Fire Warriors hurl fireballs at their targets. Most follower types are blown into the air briefly by these- greatly hampering their movement in and out of combat for as long as they are within the Fire Warrior's range. Warriors are the main exception to this- allowing them to completely counter undefended Fire Warriors. In proper numbers though, their damage output can kill even Warriors relatively quickly- and potentially shut down an enemy Shaman who moves too close. Elevated positions greatly increase their range- making Firewarriors ideal for defensive operations from Watch Towers as well.
Spy: The spy is the weakest follower in the game when it comes to direct combat- having lower health than even a Brave. His real purpose though is to sabotage enemy buildings. The spy can disguise itself as a Brave of an enemy faction and partially damage enemy structures by setting fire to them. Spies cannot be used to completely destroy enemy buildings in this manner- but this method can still slow down an enemy- potentially briefly stopping the training of a certain follower type or slowing population growth. If a follower's AI has line-of-sight to the Spy's sabotage, or if that faction's shaman right-clicks on the spy, the spy's disguise will be broken, allowing that faction's followers to directly attack him.
The braves in the village spend a large amount of time in their houses, generating Mana to allow the player's Shaman to use her spells.
Pentium 133 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Windows 95,DirectX, CD-ROM drive, and 100 MB hard drive
GOG.com Re-Release Requirements:
- Minimum system requirements: Windows XP or Windows Vista, 1.8 GHz Processor, 512MB RAM (1 GB recommended), 3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 7 (compatible with DirectX 9 recommended), 2GB HDD, Mouse, Keyboard.