Sunday, 12 July 2009

Overlord II - 360/PS3

With its tongue firmly in its cheek, the original Overlord proved to be a highly enjoyable romp through the darker side of the fantasy genre. This sequel is a much more polished take on the series, but it's not without its flaws.

Overlord's main inspiration comes from Shigeru Miyamoto's Pikmin series, but rather than controlling spacemen and strange plants, Overlord instead features a horde of cackling minions to do your bidding.

These Gremlin-looking bundles of evil come in four varieties, each one specialising in a particular trait. At first you start out only able to summon Brown minions, who are good all-round fighters. As you progress, you’ll gain access to Reds, who can used ranged fire attacks, Greens can sneak and do stealth-based damage, while the Blues can cross bodies of water and heal others.

Each particular type of minion is introduced individually, giving the player ample opportunity to get used to their nuances. However, once all four have been unlocked, a fair amount of strategy comes into play to get through the levels.

While the original game was set in the heart of a whimsical Tolkien-like world, with lots of fat halflings to kill, Overlord II is set in the realm of the Roman Empire.

While Terry Pratchett-inspired fantasy staples are scattered throughout - including peace-loving elves - the Overlord and his grinning monstrosities can often feel out of place taking on Roman garrisons.

However, at least the Romans prove to be a stiff challenge with their battle formations. Wading into these organised ranks is usually a bad idea, so careful though must be given on where to position your army - Placing fire-throwing reds on an overhanging ledge, while your browns wade into battle is a particularly effective early strategy.

Sweeping your army through ranks of Roman soldiers and plundering their gold is at the heart of the game, and controlling them is familiar ground for old hands.

The right stick is used to guide your army to its target, while the left stick controls the Overlord. Much like the original, this set-up takes a bit of getting used to, and sweeping your army around isn't the smoothest of operations - minions can disappear from view, and sometimes disaster will strike as you accidentally lead them into water.

A much easier way of controlling your mob is to fire them directly at their target, but there are times when you have no choice but to use the right stick.

Although a mini-map has thankfully been included this time - it was sadly lacking in the original 360 version - there is still a general lack of signposting. Not knowing what to do or where to go next is a problem which creeps in occasionally.

When not running riot through scores of enemies, there is plenty of scope to customise your experience.

Back in your tower of evil, new weapons can be forged, spells learned and minions upgraded - you can even redecorate the tower to suit your mistresses tastes! The game also keeps track of your individual army members, and even if your favourite dies in battle, he can be resurrected back at base.

Overlord II is a sizable, great looking, and enjoyable adventure, but there are several frustrating annoyances that really should have been ironed out. It's not a radical departure from the first game, but there's just enough here to tempt people back to the dark side.

1 comment:

MCT said...

I played the demo of this a while back, it has a wicked sense of humour