The adventure of Overlord 2 begins in the humble village of Nordberg, a pretty little place plunged in the middle of winter and enjoying a seasonal festival. As an infant foundling who was simply left near the city gate and not someone born in the village, there is somewhat of an animosity towards our fledgling delinquent, and in the main, most of the kids don’t like him very much.
Not put out by this seeming lack of empathy towards the roots of a Satan-like being, the infant tyrant compensates by destroying the children’s snowmen, thus teaching the player how to control the overlord and his minions, causing havoc along the way.
The fun can’t last forever though, so when the empire and governor turns up looking for magic users, and as the villagers being either too afraid or uncaring of an orphaned child, they hand baby overlord to the mob, who subsequently try to feed him to the wolves. This has little success as he escapes in to the dark towers of the Netherworld. Time passes and the new evil overlord rises all grown up, out to seek revenge, and let’s face it – playing the bad guy is usually a lot of fun.
Being an overlord doesn’t necessarily mean being nasty and horrible to minions. These are needed for doing the tasks overlords don’t want to bloody themselves with. In the course of things, minions will die, but it’s easy enough to recruit more to the cause, by bashing the crap out of baby seals and collecting their souls, for example. Initially the evil master can only control brown minions, easily a match for ordinary soldiers whom they will rip apart with wicked joy and glee, particularly when mounted on wolves and other hardened support ; a new game feature. As time moves on new types of subordinates are introduced which have different abilities, allowing other areas of the world to be reached and explored.
All manner of mythical creatures that inhabit this mystical world are met along the road to mastering evilness, a road that needn’t have had such dire if the villagers of Nordberg not caved in to the government so easily. Most of these the Overlord’s minions will enjoy torturing and tearing apart, but there is always a touch of dark humour about the proceedings, almost Terry Pratchett like in places; a wry smile is likely to adjourn the player’s face at some point through the game.
The prime focus of the title is little changed from the original, the idea being to conquer the world with Roman Empire like efficiency. Two main evil career paths are available to pursue this, that of destruction of property and people, or that of enslavement; using the defeated foes for the Overlord’s immoral bidding and as a rule worshipping the ground the unspeakable doomster walks on. In either case the player will get to explore the rather wonderful and sumptuous surroundings that Triumph Studios have created.
The ill gotten gains acquired along the way can be used to make improvements to the Overlord’s equipment and armour, although this does involve a lot of plundering in order to maximise everything available. Some of this will affect the player’s abilities, other aspect are merely cosmetic, bringing a more ‘homely’ and suitably malevolent appearance to the domain.
Moving about the environment is easy enough, as the camera doesn’t get too annoying, yet the single biggest predicament with Overlord 2 is working out what the hell is supposed to happen next. This was a problem with the first game too, but at least this time there is a mini-map, something that exacerbated the issue in the original Xbox360 game, to at least point the player in the right direction. The problem is the right direction is often where you’ve already been. There’s an awful amount of back tracking when minions with different abilities are required in order to get through a barrier, like fire, blocking the way ahead. Rather than extend the enjoyment of exploring the game world, it marks the experience with irritation.
This is also true of the checkpoint system, for the most part it’s fine, but there are occasions when dying means having to re-harvest souls to fetch a new lot of minions, because the checkpoint is just slightly in the wrong place. This sort of grinding can wear down the teeth.
However, Overlord 2 is generally a fun affair keeping the player entertained along the way. There are moments of brilliance such as the opening sequence to the game blemished by the odd niggle; it’s just a pity this momentum couldn’t persist through the whole experience as at times the exploration gets tedious. It’s a definite improvement over the original, but it’s unlikely to leave the player wanting a replay to see the alternative ending the game has to offer. That said Overlord 2 is definitely worth a look.