Overlord Review

Overlord is one of those games that people have always wanted, whether they realize it or not. Who, at one time, hasn’t wanted to be a medieval Sauron-looking ruler who uses minions to defeat his enemies? You in the back who just raised your hand! You sir, are lying. How do I know? Because this is human nature I’m talking about, and we all like to be naughty.

Developed by Triumph and published by the "so hot they’re…almost…on fire" lads over at Codemaster, Overlord is a refreshing game that aims to bring multiple genres into a nice little evil package that is as accessible as it is funny. Although the game may tickle your funny bone, as of July 11 the game has more than an average amount of annoying bugs and the lack of depth may turn off a lot of players midway through the game.

Without very much of an explanation, you begin the game as a reawakened or revived (the game really doesn’t say give much explanation…in the beginning) evil ruler of the lands. Apparently you were defeated by heroes and now it’s time to get your powers back and enact your oh-so-deserved revenge.

Before long, you are given a few "Browns" (yes, that’s their actual name), minions who excel at basic hand-to-hand combat. Complete a few quests and you eventually get the "Reds," who are the 2nd weakest minion at hand-to-hand but can toss fireballs from afar. After that you get the "Greens," poison and disease resistant who can go into a stealth mode and leap on enemies for rather exceptional amounts of damage, and the "Blues, the weakest melee class but they are the only ones that can go in water and resurrect other classes. With this variety in minions and a fairly low minion cap, anywhere between 25-50 minions depending on what you get and upgrade, you can bet that there is a great level of strategy to be found here, well…maybe not great. Let me rephrase that, there is a "good" level of strategy to be found here.

Besides a few key battles here and there, most of the battles in the game can be handled in variety of ways. Maybe it’s your thing to send in a few browns to keep the melee-oriented monster at bay while you have your reds pepper it from afar with their marshmallow-sized napalms, or maybe you’re the type to only use greens to ambush the enemy and have blues resurrect your fallen minions. Whatever, your play style, the game accommodates nicely, although, I don’t recommend having only blues…

That brings me to the subject of the minions themselves. In short, they are a hoot. Whatever the protagonist lacks in character, the minions almost make up for. In a nutshell, the minions are really big gremlins that will cheer when they receive new armor or weapons, cheer even louder when they find something to give to you, interact in unique ways with the environment (use levers and the always entertaining riding of sheep) and sometimes shout appropriate comments during story elements and battles.

You, the protagonist, on the other hand, don’t say anything. In fact, he has as much of a personality as a piece of toast, a fairly powerful piece of toast, but none-the-less an altogether emotionless vessel devoid of unique properties other than the fact that you can control minions. Sure, you have a few fairly generic spells at your command; make your minions stronger and activate shields, to name a few, but I personally never got the feeling that I was this all powerful Overlord, and the last time I checked, that’s the name of the game.

Sure, during battles you can strategically place your minions about but while they are doing their thing you can do one of three things: one, button mash the only attack button that has only one real attack, the "A" button; two, press the "X" button to activate your spell/s; three, maneuver your minions. I can see why they limited this portion of the game, since some people might feel that this is overwhelming, but to me, a self-proclaimed above-average hardcore gamer, I felt that there just should have been more depth in the battles. Oh sure, you can upgrade your weapons and armor by sacrificing minions by making them jump into the forge and I guess that adds an extra element of depth, but it’s still not enough for me.

The minions may be the biggest selling point for this game, but the most unexpected part for me was the phenomenal sense of humor that this game has. Take, for example, Melvin, the Halfling ruler. He’s so big and disgusting that he’ll roll right over your enemies like Thud Butt in the 1991 film Hook starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman. The best part? Each of the bosses are based off of the seven deadly sins! How’s that for extra depth? Also worth noting is the dialog in general. From your minion master Gnarl calling the Dwarves "angry beards with legs, angry bear-soaked beards with legs" to the first citizen you meet babbling on about how the pumpkins keep speaking to him. It’s off-the-wall and there needs to be more of this type of stuff in games in general. Codemasters, Triumph, I applaud you.

The online portion is fairly bare-bones. Skip the vs modes as they simply come down to the person who spots the enemy first wins, and go straight to the survival mode where you work together with another overlord to last as long as you can against forces steadily increasing in strength and numbers, natch.

Lastly, I wanted to mention how buggy as a game this is. In one section of the Halfling house I walked through the wall and fell off the level, Gnarl keeps telling me to do something even though I’ve already done it, cutscenes trigger even after you’ve seen them and sometimes after you’ve killed the creature featured in the cutscene, and general control issues are fairly common.

So if that’s the case, I bet you’re wondering why I gave it a 7.7. Well, Overlord is among the 360 greats such as Dead Rising and Crackdown in the sense that it is something we have always wanted to do and is executed in a way that makes it accessible and fun for just about anyone. The protagonist may not have much personality, but every other aspect of the game has so much that, for the most part, I didn’t even notice. Since you can play the game as a good overlord and a bad one, the game offers another degree of replayability, but since it doesn’t affect the game too much, most people probably won’t want to tackle it again just to see a few key scenes from another perspective. All in all, it’s like that annoying friend that may steal your Cheetos once in a while, and although you get mad, it’s only for a brief moment because you can’t wait to see what the crazy bugger will do next.


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Author: Kyle Stallock View all posts by

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