Thanks to Codemasters and Triumph Studios, Overlord II marks the return of the niche action little title captured our hearts back in 2007. The Overlord is back and geared up to conquer the gaming world with his legion of mischievous minions. Overlord II is more of the same, life-force harvesting and minion debauchery and we wouldn't have it any other way. Prepare to lead the Netherworld forces into the world of man.
Metallica’s “Am I Evil” should have been the title track for the Overlord II soundtrack. This Evil Simulator that Codemasters calls Overlord II is a fun run at becoming the Lord of Darkness. Yes the Overlord is back, returning to give players another taste at destruction. In this small bundle of evil-ized fun you will rule over the Netherworld as you take on all sorts of creatures, from man to beast. Gamers who enjoyed the first Overlord title will be happy to see the classic Overlord mechanics back in action... and for all those who missed out on Overlord the first time around, I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised at one of most interesting titles of the year.
Same ol' Overlord, Same ol' Adventure
Overlord II continues in the realm of dark humour focusing on what was right in the first game. If you have experienced the first one, Overlord II simply took that formula and added some new features. Ultimately I might have liked a few more risks, but more of the same still works. Keeping the gameplay the same is fine if you enjoyed the first game, however if you didn’t get sucked in the first time around, Overlord II won’t change your mind. In basics Overlord II is an action title with strategy and role-playing elements thrown into the mix. On its own each aspect really isn’t much of anything, it’s when you collectively mix all these genres that Overlord II really comes into its own. I would say Overlord II is an improvement over the original, however if you are new to the series and are curious about the Overlord's dark tale you could always pick up the first Overlord at a discounted price before you head down into the Netherworld in Overlord II. Both are excellent games and worth a look.
The Darkside, British Style
Along with the same basic gameplay, Overlord II keeps the same British humor antics that was demonstrated before. For this pleasure you can once again thank Rhianna Pratchett (Heavenly Sword, Mirror’s Edge) for the addictive narrative in Overlord II. Overlord's writing is one strong factor that helps this title separate itself from the rest of the herd. Really, who could ever question the idea of ruling over mankind as an Overlord? It’s a brilliant concept and Overlord II milks it for all its worth.
Holy Fable, Witch-Boy
The main character who you control in the game is obviously, the Overlord. Along with controlling the Overlord you will also have the ability to call upon your minions for help. The minions are evil little creatures who look and act like Gremlins from the cut-classic 80s film of the same name. Stating off in Overlord II takes a page from Lionhead's RPG Fable by letting you run ramped from the viewpoint of a child, in this case a witch-boy. As the witch-boy you will share in moments of the Overlord's childhood that shape the creature he becomes. Like Fable, Overlord lets you play about an hour and half of being pint-sized before it jumps into a time tunnel to come out as a full sized adult. Unlike Fable, you’ll see a little more action as the pint-sized darklord then Fable’s chicken-kicking tale. The little lord might not be the foreboding darklord he becomes, but as a small child you really make an impact ransacking your hometown.
Hi, We're the nice Evil Simulator
The twist that makes Overlord II so appealing to all levels of gamers is that the Overlord isn't totally Evil, EVIL! Triumph works it out so that the Overlord is the lesser of two evils by pointing a finger at an overbearing evil Empire. Keeping with this more accessible theme of evil, Overlord II only gets up to a "T"een ESRB rating which opens the game up to a younger audience. Because the violence is done with a sprinkle of humour, and without blood, Overlord II could easily achieve this. While some gamers might find Overlord a little too light-hearted, I believe it’s the perfect mix without being too over-the-top. Even without being an ultra-violent slaughterfest like MadWorld, you’ll need to put some cares away as you bash baby animals and send your minions in for some vicious trampling. Overlord II isn’t too worried about being the most sadistically violent game, or able being politically correct, all it's worried about is providing a fun getaway experience as someone with a little less moral character.
Juggle a Puzzle of Minions
The mission structure in Overlord lets you believe you have a lot of freedom, however the missions are fairly straight-forward and linear. Each level will require you to solve small puzzles that usually require you to juggle around your minions until you get past a certain part. In the beginning you only start with your main forces, the (Brown) minions and over the coarse of the story you will start to unlock the rest. When all your little minions are unlocked is when Overlord starts to be a real blast. Although I understand why Triumph makes us jumps through the hoops, gamers who have finished the first game might be thinking, didn’t we already do this the first time around... and the answer is YES.
Minions, a Skittle Pack of Vicious
Compared to the other forces in Overlord II, the minions are malevolent little creatures who easily steel the show. Each minion grouping has its own special abilities and are colour coordinated for your convince. From the (Browns) which I already mentioned, you will also acquire the (Red) minions which control fire and are extremely good at long range. Unlike the Browns, the Reds need to be tucked away in the back during battles and used as an Archer typed unit. The (Green) minions are the stealth bunch who can withstand poison attacks and leap out to ambush the enemy. Lastly, there're the (Blue) minions are like the medics with ability to swim and heal fallen minions before the pass on to the other side. Each minion grouping is a lot of fun to mess around while keeping an element of strategy up front , but its just too bad Overlord II didn’t add a few new minion flavours to the mix. The only real improvement is that the minions in Overlord II is that they can mount beasts giving an extra layer to the games combat.
Without the minions, Overlord would be one boring game, so it’s no surprise they are even more witty and animalistic then before. Watching your horde of little minions scurry across the screen to do your bidding is highly enjoyable and no doubt the secret to Overlord’s success. Controlling the minions while you fight and use the Overlord might seem like it would be hard, but actually its not. The camera works along with the minions acting on the one analog stick while the Overlord is controlled with the other. All the face buttons have their purposes along with the shoulder buttons. Sure Overlord II has a few camera issues like most third-person titles, however at the end of the day Overlord II is as easy pick up and play and new gamers should be able to get the hang of things immediately.
The combat itself has an air of strategy that can feel like a mini-puzzle at times. Choosing the right minions to fight at the perfect time is the secret behind the battles in Overlord II, and it’s not until you have some experience that you will figure this out. From the new mounts that can change the face of a battle, to the special abilities of each minion, you will want to exploit their advantages to the max. The Overlord himself can be upgraded in the way of his weapons, magic, and amour, but honestly he is a bit of a chump. The Overlord who never utters a word can conquer the land, find himself a nice harem of ladies and become the darklord of the Netherworld.... but get into a fight with a well armed group of warriors, well it’s all over by the singing. I don't know why they didn't inject some personality into his royal darkness, he sure could use it.
A few problems still found there way onto the sequel that showed their face in the original. First problem you'll likely notice is that the minions can get stuck on objects easily, or fail to do exactly what you wanted. The A.I. has been improved on the little guys, but there is still room for improvement. Overlord II also has a checkpoint system that can pushes you back a little too far from when you died which can be frustrating at times. Both these issues are not game breakers, but they could have been refined. More checkpoints and a little more time spent on the minions’ path-finding abilities would have been great. Some parts of the game can be a little tedious when battling bosses, or trying to get that little minion unstuck, however in the grand scheme of things, Overlord II is solid.
Honey, I've Shrunk The Overlord
After making it this far in the review you might be thinking, so what did Triumph Studios actually change? To answer this is easy, however why it took them two years is another question. Besides the storyline, new mounts, Overlord II has included the ability for the Overlord to transform into a minion himself and complete otherwise impossible objectives. Transforming the Overlord into the soul of a minion is a "good" addition to the game that doesn't get shoved down the player throat too often. Actually it is featured just enough so it only adds to the gameplay, plus warping into a little minion gives a new perspective on what these little buggers do for their cherished Lord.
Branching out a little more, Overlord II changes this up with a few mini-game feeling sections where you get to get behind a large weapon, or partake in sailing a boat to a mystical land. All these little touches are standard affair in other titles and have made their way to the Overlord's gameplay. Even though a lot of players might frown at their generic approach, they actually fit into the Overlord’s world perfectly. It might be streamlining the action a bit, but it doesn’t do any harm, and I actually found these parts to be entertaining once you accept them for what they are, filler. Like I mentioned early, Overlord II didn't take too many risks, if any, so hopefully if the Overlord returns again, he can have a few more surprises up his iron gauntlet.
Overlord Makes His Debut Online
In Overlord II, the crown prince of Darkness finally jumps into the world of multiplayer gaming. In Overlord II there are small number of multiplayer modes over each consoles respected networks, plus a split-screen option for those who want to go at it, old school. The multiplayer modes are fun for people who really enjoy the mechanics of the game, but its not the same as loading up a Deathmatch in Call of Duty. Two of the maps are versus matches and the other two are co-op runs. Be prepared to do some homework before you hop right in, and be prepaired to have some patience as it is hard to find a group of people to play with. It's strange the title has been out for a few weeks and the online servers seem as desolate as the Netherworld. When you do login, or find a friend to play with at home don’t expect too much out of the skimpy modes included. Like the weapon mini-games, the online side of Overlord II seems more like filler, and really it wasn't that necessary.
So... Let's Talk Graphics
Overlord II is a looker! I was instantly impressed with the excellent job Triumph did pushing the graphics even further then the original. Overlord II adds some outstanding special effects in the games environments, along with a nice tilt on the art direction that goes along with its solid foundation. From the little Gnomes, to a dangerous snarling Panda Bear, Overlord II has a lot of personality that draws you into its fairytale world of damnation. Along with excellent creature design is a varied world that keeps things interesting even when you have to revisiting them over a number of times. The only negative spot to the graphics is that some of the textures seem a little low-res, and the game’s draw distance can have a little pop ups. Taking into effect the amount of calculations happing on the screen at any given time, Overlord II handles this with ease. The load-times are kept to a minimum as the frame-rate keep chugging at a steady rate. Really, Overlord II is twice the looker as the original and Triumph did a great job to keep the visual flair interesting as you plug through the games campaign.
And Let's Talk Sound
The audio quality in Overlord II is also quite good with the exception of a few balancing issues. What you will be hearing is a fun-filled rambling of voices that include everything from stiffly English accents to the random one liners coming from your minions. Those little fellas never stop squawking and that's a good thing. The only downside is not being able to hear the creature’s voices from time to time. Besides that Overlord II audio charm is abundant. The variety in the graphics isn't as apparent as games soundtrack, or the voices in the game, but it does its job to help Overlord II become a fun escape from reality. One suggestion I have for those who are planning on jumping into Overlord II is that you might want to turn the music down slightly so your not saying "What did he say" over and over.
Overlord II is an expanded sequel that provides more of the same loveable minion action from the first. Triumph isn't looking for a new audience as this targeted follow-up is meant to please fans of the original. Like the original, the real star players of Overlord II are the minions that provide a distinct feel to the gameplay adding in their own unique branding of humor and strategy. The pitter-patter of their scurrying feet should be enough to lure into the world of the Overlord, and once your there you're likely to have a lot of fun. It’s hard not to fall in love with their quirky ways, and in-turn the whole concept behind Codemasters tongue-in-cheek adventure. For the curious gamer, Overlord II a safe rental and a worthy purchase if you don’t mind a little bit of humour added into your mayhem.
Gameplay:8.0, Graphics:8.5, Sound:8.5, Innovation:7, Mojo:8.5 Final: 8.1 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 07.06.09