|System: PS3, X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Triumph Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
If a game that casually encourages you to send a band of slathering, goblin-like minions to gleefully bash in the heads of cute little seals doesnt pique your interest (or alternately elicit total disgust), Im not sure what will. Playing the role of the good guy has long been a tradition in video games one that has grown a little tiresome.
Being nicey-nice is fine if youre in a pleasant, benevolent mood, but sometimes the pursuit of catharsis demands more drastic measures, like setting fire to a peaceful village, bending peasants weak minds to your unholy will, and harvesting the souls of the small furry creatures youve just trampled.
The original Overlord let you take control of a powerful demonic warrior in control of a small army of diminutive followers and act out your insidious, war-like fantasies against the forces of good all with a twisted sense of dark humor and trademark goofiness that made it hard to resist. For the delightfully evil sequel, Triumph Studios brings a few necessary improvements into the fray and builds on the surprisingly charming yet demonically twisted personality it laid down in Overlord. It turns out siding with the unholy forces of darkness is more than a little fun; its also freaking hilarious.
Overlord II embraces an amusing, tongue-in-cheek lack of seriousness from the get-go. Starting out as an awkwardly youthful magic-wielding overlord whos called witch boy and picked on by other kids in the local village, youll immediately start along the path of evil by wreaking havoc against those who taunt you. A concise tutorial section culminates in you igniting the towns giant Christmas tree just before narrowly escaping a swift death at the hands of the magic-hating Roman Empire. Your young nefarious deeds dont go unnoticed; minions from the underworld spirit you off to their subterranean lair and decide to groom you to become their next dark master. A quick fast-forward time lapse finds you all grown up and in control of the vast evil underground. Bent on kicking some Roman backside and exacting a more satisfying revenge on the village you were booted from, you set off on a campaign of malevolence fueled by a desire to expand your empire and trample anyone who stands in your way good times.
Trudging across the land with your death-dealing implement of choice in hand, smashing open barrels and chests filled with loot, and flaying the minds of innocents you encounter with demonic magic all has a Diablo-like quality to it thats rather appealing. As satisfying as it is to crack skulls open with your destructive might, your towering overlord is really just a glorified support unit. Its the rag-tag gaggle of assorted minions that youll keep by your side at all times that makes the pursuit of world dominance far more interesting. Youll start out with access to brown minions that are excellent in melee combat and eventually add flame-shooting reds, backstabbing greens, and healing blues. Some minions can ride mounts like wolves or spiders, and each has additional benefits like immunities and special abilities that make them particularly useful in certain situations. These beasties provide occasional comic relief and do most of your dirty work for you. Your minions gain experience and grow more powerful as you use them. This time around you can bring back your favorites from the dead for a hefty price and a few sacrificed souls.
Most of the time youll control your overlord directly; any minions you have in tow will follow you around and attack when enemies get within range. Alternately, you can switch to directly controlling your selected minions by making them rush around the map manually. This is great for charging ahead into battle to soften foes for the overlord to cleave in twain or accessing switches and other items youre demonic ruler is too lumbering to reach. You can select groups of minions by type and give them orders to attack or interact with targeted foes or items. Also, they can be set to defend areas, allowing for a greater level of strategy. On the downside, the camera angles occasionally wonk out and targeting troops and directing minions in mid-battle seems trickier than necessary at times. Otherwise, controlling your overlord and minions independently of one another is easy to pick up.