Overlord II

Considering the old adage, two heads are better than one, just imagine how powerful you’ll be with thirty little noggins scurrying around behind you, ready to loot, pillage and kill at your beckon call. You are the harbinger of evil, the walking apocalypse and the dictionary definition of tyrannical, using an army of rambunctious minions to do your wicked bidding. You are the Overlord.

The world is in dire straits as the capitalist pigs of ‘The Empire’, a Romanesque kingdom that popped up since the first game, have banished, eradicated and enslaved the country’s magic users. Intent on stopping these malcontents, minion master Gnarl finds and raises a new dark hero from Overtot to Overlad and finally to Overlord, to wipe these tubsters off the map.

Just like the first game, Overlord is all about commanding your gremlin-like minions to do your bidding for you, sending them to loot houses, operate machinery and kill enemies with a point of your gauntlet-wearing digit. Sure you’ve got a giant axe and a host of magical spells at your disposal, but your main role is the commander of death, sending units out to tactical positions. You might set some fire-lobbing red ‘uns on a balcony, hide some back-stabbing green assassins in a nearby bush and let your brown bruisers go face to face with the enemy.

And when it all comes together, it feels fantastic. Like an impromptu real time strategy game, your micro-plans work out and the battle is won with few minion injuries. You can sound your battle horn and recall your minions with pride, knowing that the only bloodshed was that of the enemy.

But it’s a rare joy, hidden behind layers of frustration. The camera is a pain, controls are finicky and minion A.I. can have you babysitting instead of seal clubbing; complaints you don’t want to attribute to any game, let alone one with such a convoluted and complicated set of mechanics like Overlord. Outside of adding camera direction, Overlord II makes very few steps to combat the headaches of its predecessor.

Triumph did make one major decision in the name of satisfying control pests, but it’s a misguided step which heavily dilutes the game’s message: its far more action orientated this time around. Actual strategic battles and tactical puzzles are doled out in bite size chunks, while a large portion of enemies can be wiped out with very little need for planning. Some of the game’s best sections involve only one type of minion, which completely misses the point.

It’s a shame; the first Overlord was so unique, capably marrying strategy with action, all in a twisted fairytale pastiche. The headaches and frustrations that cropped up should have been fixed in the sequel, but they’re swept under the rug with the hopes that no one will notice the giant lump. In fact, there aren’t many reasons to prefer Overlord II over 2007’s first release; for every step the game takes forward, such as in-depth maps and improved camera control, the sequel takes two back with its dodgy save system and extremely harsh checkpoints.

Left entirely intact, however, is the game’s inimitable style and effortless personality. Fairytales are out and parodies are in as the Overlord fights Greenpeace Elves and elitist Emperors, all presented in lush worlds with detailed sets. The dialogue is as funny as ever, with series writer Rhianna Pratchett at the helm, and complemented by the game’s quirky animations and general sense of lunacy.







2 responses to “Overlord II”

  1. Jake avatar

    I haven’t, as yet, had any problems with the camera or minions. I think it’s an improvement on the first one…

  2. […] Studios, you can get your gremlin-esque followers to ride mounts, row boats and load catapults. Read my review at Ready-Up. […]

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