Your unbridled violence as the Overlord doesn't stem from third-person hack 'n' slash combat
- Lovable world; decent variety of objectives; original action/strategy gameplay
- Awful checkpoints, camera, map and lock-on system
Overlord II is a decent game that maintains its predecessor's greatness, but it doesn't show enough progression or improvement. The unforgiving checkpoints and host of other problems make it a frustrating experience, making for a sinfully fun title that forces you to a steep penance for your enjoyment.
Price$ 109.95 (AUD)
The first Overlord was an overlooked adventure game that blended the best parts of Pikmin with the worst parts of the Bible. Casting gamers as a walking apocalypse with demon underlings, the delightfully cheery fantasy world gave the game a dark yet charming personality. Overlord II, recaptures the black magic, but problems old and new make it a disappointing sequel.
Our Overlord II review copies had issues that may not be present in the retail version, but for full disclosure you should know that the Xbox 360 version was prone to crashing to the dashboard. The PS3 build suffered from sluggish framerate issues as well, something the original Overlord: Raising Hell release on PlayStation 3 had as well. We hope these issues will be addressed in the retail version but we wanted you to know.
Your unbridled violence as the Overlord doesn't stem from third-person hack 'n' slash combat. Instead, you'll order four minion types — brown brawlers, ranged reds, sneaky greens and pacifist blue healers — to tactically advantageous positions using the right stick. Separating them into squadrons and finding alternative ways to win is an effective way to stick strategy into an adventure game, though I found lock-on system to be finicky at best, and worsened by an uncooperative camera. Between bouts you'll set sail in stolen elf ships and siege castles with catapults while taking on side quests from fearful worshippers.
The catch to getting through these quests is that the map is too small to be useful and vague mission details had me aimlessly running in circles. And if I failed that objective, the wretched checkpoints sent me back 20 to 30 minutes, forcing me to retry completed missions after long walks across huge maps.
The Charm in the Harm
And yet, despite its hand-ups, Overlord II is a smart parody of the moral pendulum in games. The Overlord is evil incarnate, a villain through and through, so his ethical outlook isn't a choice between naughty or nice. Instead, you'll balance your malevolence against the potential reward; for instance, enslaved townsfolk offer you piles of money over time but slaughtering them provides instant benefits. Juggling your path down the dark side is half the fun and there's a constant sense of satisfaction that comes from taking over the world. Imagine that.
Part of what makes the world worth conquering is that it's so lovable. The pleasant atmosphere and delightful settings mix well with the twisted humour of your wanton violence. Your minions are all too anxious to club cute baby seals, burn fluffy bunnies and destroy tree-hugging elf hippies. The addition of a Roman Empire-esque enemy in the fantasy world is great as well — I still crack up thinking about minions wearing too-large Legionnaire armour while riding on wolves or stabbing unicorns in the Coliseum.
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