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Overlord II Review

July 15, 2009
by

recommended

Overlord II was released mid-June for PS3, 360, and PC. My review is of the 360 version of the game. Overlord II was developed by Triumph Studios, who developed the Age of Wonders series. The game is (obviously) a sequel to the first Overlord.

I first got into the Overlord series shortly after the first one came out, as I found out it was written by the daughter of Terry Pratchett, one of my all time favorite authors. That, and my friend’s description of it as evil Pikmin was enough to persuade me. When I heard that a sequel was coming out, I was of course extremely interested, and as I heard more and more about it began to be more excited. Unfortunately the end result was not as great as my anticipation for it.

While by no means a bad game, there were a number of frustrating and puzzling missteps made in this game. Before I get into specifics however, I need to explain the basics of the game. As the name suggests, you play the titular Overlord, a Sauron looking fellow, bent on conquering the world. This objective is primarily achieved through the main game mechanic of minions. Minions are cute but ugly but loveable creatures utilized not unlike the Pikmin to which my friend referred. There are four basic minion types, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The brown minions are your basic cannon fodder melee types, who have no major weaknesses, but no major strengths. Next is red minions, essentially the mages of the bunch, who cast ranged fireball spells, and die faster than Britney Spears’ career. Next are the stealthy green minions, who can backstab enemies for massive damage, but are weaker head-on than the browns. Lastly are the blue minions who are capable of swimming, and reviving dead minions. In addition to combat reds, greens, and blues serve have loose puzzle solving abilities, for example reds can remove fire, greens can remove poison, blues swim, etc.

Now my first major issue with the game was the control scheme. I haven’t played the first game in a while, so the controls may be bad in the original too, but I didn’t remember them being bad, and in the sequel some of the controls were downright ridiculous. For starters, the right stick is used to send out a group of minions (known as sweeping them). The right stick also controls the camera. Additionally you have 4 types of minions, which logically would go on the D-pad. Nope, instead you have to hold the right bumper, and then use the face buttons to select a specific minion color. On top of that, the lock-on system can be a bit wonky. That being said, the game is hardly unplayable, merely awkward. One minor exception, that got me frustrated to the point that I just turned off my system was a sequence in which you need to precisely control your minions to activate buttons in a very strict timeline. It took in excess of 20 attempts to finally succeed.
Overlord II

Now the humor of the game is more or less intact from the original game, you’ve got your minion’s amusing antics, some witty dialogue (although some dialogue can be pretty bad), stereotypical hippie elves, hedonistic imperialists, and so on. When not dealing with the frustrating controls gameplay is mostly fun, albeit on the linear side. There were a couple of cool new features which sadly had slightly flawed execution, namely mounts, and siege weapons. Each type of minion except blues has a unique type of mount, which while looking cool, don’t add a lot to the gameplay outside of progressing through puzzles. The siege weapons were a great idea, but can take a bit to get used to aiming and firing them. Additionally the boats in the game were fairly awkward to controls.

Other minor issues I had seemed like a  frustrating attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken. Magic is now dumb ed down to 3 spells, 2 of which are not overly useful. You don’t need to explore or search nearly as hard to find upgrades in this game, as most are just lying around. Also, you can no longer customize armor and weapons, and are instead stuck with preset items. Additionally boss fights were lacking, both in number, and in epicness. All in all the game is still fun however, and if you liked Pikmin, or the first Overlord game, then worth at least a rental. Depending on how persistent you are, and how skilled you are with the controls the game is in the 10 hour range.

-The Big Man

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