It was back in 2007 when Overlord first reared its evil head, debuting on the Xbox 360. Despite its numerous flaws, it was still one of the more interesting titles of the year. Finally the game has made it’s way to the PS3, in supposedly a slicker, more polished form. Is the PS3 update worth your time and money?
For those of you who are not familiar with the game, the premise is nice and simple. You take on the role of the evil Overlord and you must bring evil and mayhem to the kingdom in order to rebuild your evil tower. Now I realise that I have used the word ‘evil’ a fair bit already, and I would just like to clarify something. Although the game is focused on evil deeds, these are not dark, twisted evil deeds, rather they are more humorous evil deeds. This brings me on to one of the things that I found so great about the game; the humour.
It is obvious right from the start that this is not going to be a very serious game, as the loading screens show all manner of crazy minions doing crazy things such as riding sheep. This theme is made even more obvious when you spend most of your tutorial beating ten tons of hell out of your court jester (although he does call you horrible names, so in my opinion he thoroughly deserves the beating). Thankfully, this humour runs through the majority of the game in many different forms. There are some hilarious cutscenes with some great dialogue, and some fantastic creature design. None of this even comes close however, to the brilliance of your minions.
When you start the game, you will only have access to 5 minions, although this soon increases, and will continue to do so throughout the game until you reach the cap of 50. These minions are the key element of the game, as they will do the majority of the work for you. Need to kill an enemy? Send in your minions to batter them. Collapsed pillar blocking the way? Relax, and get your minions to move it for you. Even better than having your minions do your work for you is seeing how they interact with many of the games objects. For example, minions can arm themselves using various weapons and armour, which range from the basic; a pitchfork and a pumpkin helmet, to swords and helmets dropped by your defeated foes. But wait, there’s more. [You can get double the order of Zorbeez if you order now! -Ed.] Not only will they gather stuff for themselves, they will happily collect up gold and potions and bring them over to you, along with nice little comments as they do so. Even better than this, is some of the interactions with some of the games more obscure objects. To give you one of my favourite examples, a minion of mine picked up a mug of beer, drank it, was all buffed up for a few seconds, and then decided to take a pee right in front of me, which was needless to say, absolutely hilarious.
With all the things that the minions can do, it’s a very good thing that the control scheme is nicely laid out and a pleasure to use. The left analog stick controls the Overlord, and the minions follow you around as you move. You can then move the minions independently of the Overlord by using the right analog stick, and they will interact with whatever they may pass by. If they see an enemy or something breakable, they will begin to attack it. If they see an item, they will pick it up and either use it themselves, or come running back to give it to you. If you want to send singular minions, a single press of the R2 button will send them running off in the direction you are facing. Multiple presses mean mulitple minions head off. Finally, calling back your minions is as simply as holding the circle button. There are of course, more advanced controls for more specific actions, but I won’t go into any more detail here.
The single player mode focuses on you ridding the kingdom of all manner of beasties that have been giving the residents of Spree hassle. While this may seem a bit nice for a game focused on evil, you can still slaughter a lot of the villagers afterwards, most of the time whilst they are singing your praises, which feels particularly evil. The gameplay itself has a rather nice learning curve to it, as you start off being able to defeat just about anything by simply throwing your minions at it. As you progress, this becomes much less common, and towards the end of the game you will encounter numerous sections where a wrong decision can cost you your entire horde of minions. Furthermore, you also unlock 3 new tribes of minions as you progress, each of which have unique abilities and fighting styles.
The single player is made even better by all the small tweaks and improvements that have been made since the previous Overlord. Key amongst these improvements is the addition of an in-game minimap, which was sorely missed on the Xbox 360. Other nice tweaks include a more responsive lock on system, and a smoother camera. It even comes bundled with all the 360’s downloadable content, which is quite a sweet deal. Unfortunately, as great as the single player is, the multiplayer modes simply don’t stack up, and aren’t really worth playing at all. By all means take a look at them, but don’t be expecting the next online hit.
Graphically the game has it’s moments, and like I mentioned earlier some of the creature designs are really pretty nice. However, the environment’s themselves look pretty bland compared to what the PS3 is capable of. Still, the game maintains a decent frame rate for the most part, which is quite an achievement when you consider the number of minions on the screen at once.
Similarly, the audio portion of the game also has ups and downs. The music is somewhat generic, and because I’ve heard basically the same music in umpteen different action titles, it quickly becomes quite annoying. On the flip side, some of the speech throughout the game is brilliant, particularly with regards to the minions. Seriously, if you don’t at least smile when you hear some of their comments, get yourself checked out by a doctor, because there’s something wrong with you.
What we have here is the definitive edition of Overlord. It is however, kind of annoying that it has been released at a full retail price, especially when you consider the time the game has been out on the 360 already. I feel that perhaps a reduced price (like the recently released Lost Planet: Colonies Edition) would have suited the game better. Aside from the price, this is a great, innovative game and it deserves to be played.