STAFF REVIEW of Overlord 2 (Xbox 360)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009.
by Rick Wallace

Overlord 2 Box art Have you ever just wanted to wreak havoc on the world with no repercussions to ever face? Think of the fun it would be terrorizing villages and its residents and just destroying everything in site, just because you can and you feel like it. Well as an evil Overlord in command of minions you can do all that and more in the second installment of Overlord published by Codemasters and developed by Triumph Studios.

Right off the bat you are thrown into the world as am adolescent overlord candidate and being teased by the local children. Along with the help of several minions you teach the village kids a lesson and make your way into the village. From there the story begins and you are introduced to the Glorious Empire asking that all magic doers be turned over. Immediately the villagers hand you over in order to avoid a fate of death and destruction. After making your way through some Empire soldiers, you sink with your Yeti friend into the icy depths of a local lake. And so the story begins...

The first level is a bit of a tutorial and a chance to learn the controls. There really isn't anything difficult about the controls, its just a matter of getting used to sending your minions out to do your dirty work with the triggers or use of the right and left analog sticks. If you are new to the series you will quickly learn what the Overlord games are all about. Whimsical Humor, parodies, and plenty of comical antics to keep the game fresh and at times laugh out loud funny. One example of this humor comes at the expense of cute little baby seals scampering about on an artic ice flow. You'll hear your narrator say look at the cute baby seals, and suddenly you get a closeup of this white furry seal with big black eyes staring at you and being all cute. Right out of a World Wildlife Foundation commercial. Then your minions start running around clubbing the seals to collect their life force. It just doesn't seem right, yet it seems oh so right at the same time. Yes, it is a bit disturbing that I feel that way.

You'll have four types of minions at your disposal, each having their own personality and special attributes and abilities. The groups are simply named after colors which they are represented by on screen as well. First was have the Browns. The Browns are your do all, say all group of thugs. They'll taunt enemies and sing songs while enjoying a good fight. The Reds are your minions of fire so to speak. They are able to throw fireballs and have quite the hot headed tempers. Your Greens are more of your stealth minions. They'll sneak up on unsuspecting enemies and take them out quicker than Sam Fisher could ever dream of doing. And Finally you have your Blues. The Blues have magical abilities that allow them to heal fallen comrades as well as pass through enemy lines without harm. Altogether these minions make quite a force to be reckoned with and the human world is in for a pretty rough go of things when you come to town with your army.

Something new and actually very cool in Overlord II is the ability for your minions to mount up and ride creatures and wolves throughout the world. You'll use these mounts to traverse gaps not normally passable by foot and they also increase the speed and attack damage as well. These minions are not your typical dumb breed anymore. Oh no, they have shaken the learning disabilities and can now band together to run war machines such as catapults and even disguise themselves to pass through villages undetected until its time to unleash their terror. I also found the minions quite comical in the fact that they will put on trophies such as fallen soldier helmets. You should see this fairly early in the game when you face off against the Empire's army.

In line with the minions grabbing helmets and putting them on comes the fact that you can tool your minions to make them stronger and more fierce. Of course any minion with upgrades is stronger than one brought straight out of a minion gate. So be sure to buy upgrades whenever you can, and you'll even be picking up weapons and armor from certain enemies throughout the game.

An all new storyline is brought into Overlord II and as mentioned a new Overlord is in charge as well as smarter and stronger minions as I just described. The humor seems to have been elevated more than the first title and as I mentioned, there are quite a few moments that you will chuckle out loud and your significant other will just look at you and shake their head. At least my wife did.

When it comes to gameplay, everything should be fairly familiar if you have played the first title. You'll use the thumbsticks in combination to sweep your minions across an area. Or you can use the right trigger to send them to a specific location, item for destruction or and enemy. You'll use the ?A? button to attack with your Overload and multiple button combinations to perform special attacks such as a 360 Overlord attack. There are also button combinations to control your minions from simple?B? presses to combinations of buttons to operate war machines and ships. While some of this may sound complicated, it truly isn't bad at all and easy to pick up and play for most.

One thing I did notice with the sweeping motion was many times your minions would start to sweep but them run back to you if you did not continue with the sweeping motion and lead them to their destination. It could get frustrating at times, as well as certain camera angles could detract from you getting a good sweeping action. Nothing to bad, but noticeable enough at times that I did grumble a bit at the game.

Despite the few qualms I had with the camera or the sweeping motions, the gameplay is solid and very easy to catch on. If anything the sweeping motion and the clunky camera could definitely use some improvements. There are many things to master from standard attacks to magic casting to complete destruction or domination of the land. You'll definitely have an enjoyable time playing this game.

Graphically the game looks great. The landscapes are full of color and the character models are done quite well. Especially the minions themselves. You'll immediately understand how mischievous they really are by just watching their actions and how they carry themselves. They love to be bad! The parodies and innuendos throughout the game in the way characters are drawn definitely add to the games overall appeal and presentation. With the exception of some camera issues as I mentioned there really isn't anything bad or disheartening when it comes to the game graphically.

When it comes to sound the game does everything quite well. From comical quotes you'll hear to the singing of silly little songs by your minions while they terrorize the land just adds to the atmosphere this game is trying to build. The voice acting is spot on perfect I think and each and every minion seems to have their own personality that comes through whole heartedly. Event he characters scattered throughout the world have comical one liners and demeanors that come out in things they say or how they act even.

One of the best things any game can have is a multiplayer option. Overlord's multiplayer gives you plenty of game modes to choose from. You'll be able to play the following ? Split Screen, Co-Op Survival, Co-Op Invasion, Versus Dominate and Versus Pillage. Of course the split screen mode is to play on the same 360 console, but the other game modes are playable across Xbox Live. There are no leaderboards with the Survival co-op mode. You can play ranked or player matches in the versus modes and you'll get full leaderboards with those modes. In the few matches I played with friends, I didn't see much lag or interruption and the games were quite fun and just as amusing as the single player.

I have to recommend this game to anyone that enjoys a comical satire or parody as well as whimsical dark humor. It's full of destruction, fun and mayhem and the game really never gets stale throughout the entire campaign or the multiplayer. If you played the first game and liked it then you should definitely pick this one up. Even if you didn't play the first game, you should check this title out or maybe even go get the first title and play through it and then follow it up with Overlord II. I honestly do not think anyone would be disappointed giving this game a run through. I mean seriously, how often do you get to run around and bash cute little baby seals with a club and enjoy it!

I'd love to see even more variety of minions brought into the game. So many colors to choose from and each can have their own personality. The possibilities are endless. Other than that I would also love to see some DLC. Maybe thats where more minions could come from, as well as maybe some storyline expansions. I do think the controls need tweaked a bit because several times the sweeping action just didn't work well for me. And the camera angles could be frustrating too. But overall great job guys! Loved the title as I did the first one.

Overall: 7.9 / 10
Gameplay: 8.1 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.4 / 10


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