Traditional storylines have proven to be a winning formula within video games, with the antagonists failing to prove victorious against the player-controlled protagonists. Every so often you’ll find a title that turns this formula on its head, allowing gamers the rare opportunity to play as the ‘bad guys’. One such title was Overlord, which failed to make a big impact on the gaming world when it released in 2007. Two years on and the developer, Triumph Studios, have released their second attempt in the form of Overlord 2.
Overlord 2 follows on from the Raising Hell downloadable content, rather than the original title’s storyline, in which the minions are in search of a new overlord, coming in the form of Overlad, the previous Overlord’s son. Players meet Overlad just outside Nordberg - one of the game’s big towns - as a young child. Playing through the prelude acts is a very good tutorial, and causing mayhem within Nordberg is a great way to get used to the controls.
“It’s good to be bad, but better to be evil.”
The controls remain the same as those of Overlord, so players of the original will be able to get to grips with them pretty quickly. Fortunately, there’s one major improvement that comes in the form of the ability to rotate the camera using the right thumbstick. For those new to the series, this may sound like such a simple mechanism, though returning players will be overjoyed after the major camera issues witnessed in the predecessor. In fact, Overlord 2 fixes a lot of the issues players will have experienced with the original, especially with minions.
Minions are your loyal gremlin-like creatures who will destroy, kill or move anything you direct them towards. There are four-types of minions, each of which have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The brown minions are the strongest fighters, though aren’t particularly useful otherwise; the red minions throw fire from a distance at enemies though are weak in close combat; blue minions can heal dead minions and go through water though prove almost useless in battle and green minions prove to be stealthy fighters though aren’t as tough as brown minions. One of the major problems with the minions in Overlord was the fact that they weren’t that intelligent, with blue and red minions getting too close to enemies for comfort and therefore dying too easily. Thankfully, the minion AI has been improved for Overlord 2, so you won’t be kicking yourself when your minions drown themselves.
“Browns, reds and greens cannot swim. They are, however, remarkably good at drowning.”
The storyline in Overlord 2 is fairly simple, as it evolves around capturing and destroying the towns of Nordberg and Everlight. Whilst this may sound like a fairly quick process, side quests ensure the campaign becomes a lot more complex and therefore extending the game’s total play time to a decent amount of hours. Of course, you’d expect the multiplayer would extend the total play-time, though unfortunately this is where the game has its major flaw.
For a game based heavily on its single player, the inclusion of multiplayer came as a surprise. The game contains four multiplayer game modes, all of which are available to play both locally (in split-screen) and online. The first two game modes are Pirate Plunder and Dominate, which are versus game modes, with each match lasting ten minutes. In Pirate Plunder, both overlords try to gather as much gold as possible, which can be obtained via controlling a pirate ship across the waters. Of course being Overlord 2, players can also steal the opponent’s treasure either by breaking into the vault or killing the other overlord. This is a fairly good game mode despite the fact that it certainly has its flaws. Ensuring your ship is lined up to perfection next to the dock is a problem I encountered many times whilst playing this game mode, wasting precious time. Dominate is similar to Territories evident in many other multiplayer titles, as each overlord aims to take and hold as many zones as they can. This is probably the weakest game mode as minions can be killed fairly easily, meaning each player has somewhat weak defences.
“Never eat weevils on a Tuesday.”
The other two game modes are co-operative and come in the form of Arena and Invasion. Within Arena, it’s a simple case of surviving whilst waves of enemies appear at certain time intervals. If you can get a partner who is likely to help you out, Arena proves to be a fairly strong game mode. Otherwise, it’s no doubt one you would avoid. Finally, Invasion sees players making their way through a Nordberg settlement where they must defeat the Centurion in charge to victor. This is the better of the co-operative modes as it forces players to work together in order to progress.
The multiplayer on the whole, both locally and online, is unexpectedly good. Whilst we’ve seen it all before, the Overlord 2 twist makes it a fairly enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, the major flaw comes due to the lack of players. Even within a week of the game’s release, it was a struggle to find many players waiting in lobbies.
“Unicorns! Over-rated pit ponies!”
As you would expect, Overlord 2 has seen an improvement graphically over its predecessor, with characters and environments looking a lot better than before. Regrettably, there are some weak spots here and there but, on the whole, it is to an acceptable standard. Also to an acceptable standard is the game’s audio, with some satisfactory voice-acting and a soundtrack that matches the game’s style brilliantly.
One of the better elements of the original Overlord was the game’s humour, which makes a very welcome return in the sequel. Never has so much humour been cramped into one title, with the inclusion of hippy pirates protecting seals from being clubbed, minion’s insulting songs and a whole lot more, there’s something in Overlord 2 which will make any gamer laugh-out-loud.
“Seals can see into your soul. They must be wiped out.”
To conclude, Overlord 2 is a worthy sequel which almost definitely improves on its predecessor. The game’s very long, yet enjoyable campaign overcomes the rather weak multiplayer. If you’re looking for something to play during the summer drought, Overlord 2 is certainly a title to consider.