|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Triumph Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 26, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Anthony Warren
April 30, 2007 - After claiming an award at E3 2006, information on Overlord by Codemasters and Triumph Studios has been scarce until just lately. This probably has something to do with the June 26th release date. Moral choices and alignments are certainly not a new feature in RPGs though Overlord takes the system in a slightly different direction and will afford players around 30-40 hours of gameplay.
The game is set in a twisted fantasy world chock full of tongue-in-cheek humor and a distinctive visual style all its own. In the beginning, the un-named main character exits the tower of the long dead overlord after being resurrected by a particularly wise minion named Narl, who becomes your guide through the rest of the game. You are then greeted by a horde of the once almighty evildoers' minions who immediately swear undying loyalty to you. You're tasked with extracting revenge from the seven heroes that slew you who have now become corrupted themselves.
Though your bumbling little imps make marvelous meat shields and certainly have no reservations about being used in such a way, keeping them alive for longer allows them to gain improvements to their abilities and makes them more capable. There are four distinct flavors of minions that you'll encounter in the game, and each one has its own special abilities and resistances. With the ability to control up to 50 minions at once, your main challenge will be determining what means of evil destruction you prefer to use.
The most common are the brown "fighter" minions who are geared for melee combat and will gladly take on suicidal bombing missions behind enemy lines. Red "flame thrower" minions are immune to fire and have the ever useful ability to hurl fireballs at your enemies. Green "assassin" minions are immune to poison and are increasingly skilled at stabbing your enemies from behind; they also have the distinct advantage of being able to turn useless battlefield rubbish into useful upgrades. Blue "healer" minions are the healers of the group, able to resurrect fallen allies; they're also the only type of minions with the ability to swim. Some of you may be thinking that this is sounding a lot like the Pikmin franchise made popular by Nintendo. However, Pikmin aren't distracted by beautiful succubae, beer, or music, for example, which are all things that you'll need to look out for when managing your horde of evil minions.
The movements of your dark army will be achieved mostly through the use of the right analog stick, while the main character is controlled with the use of the left analog stick. Various other buttons will allow the selection of a single minion or whole groups of the little buggers. Alternatively, you can select any target, such as an opponent or building, and send your minions against it one at a time using what is essentially a fire button. The minion's instincts tell them to destroy and pillage anything in their sight, which means keeping them on a tight leash is the real challenge. This is made easier with the use of the shoulder buttons; one will send your enemies to a selected target while the other will command your dark army to reassemble at your side. Thanks to the minion A.I., little micromanagement will be needed; your minions are opportunistic and will return to you with scavenged goodies from battlefields including gold, the souls of enemies for the purpose of creating new minions, and rare metals for use in the crafting of new armor and weapons for yourself. Said items can also be magically imbued with special properties by commanding one of your minions to sacrifice itself in the forge during the creation process, for example, a red minion sacrifice results in weapons and armor that deal or are resistant to fire damage. Your minions are also smart enough to scavenge weapons and armor for themselves from your defeated enemies.
The home base for your evil empire is a dark tower that lies in ruins at the beginning of the game. This is where you'll craft and practice your evil skills, purchase new items and powers, or just lounge around and please your mistress who will also aid you in choosing what form of furnishing and decorations you should purchase for your cozy, dark abode. The tower also acts as a training area for your minions and a prison to hold your captured foes while you dream up new vile ways of disposing of them. The tower will also display the various powers that you acquire during the game, displaying them as emblems on the wall of the main hall.
Being the commander of an evil army leaves you no real choice when it comes to being good or evil; you're evil, plain and simple. However, you do have the choice of being slightly evil or REALLY evil, you know like 'backing up sewers and stealing everyone's left shoe' evil. Actually, being really evil consists of things like killing helpless villagers, betraying your mistress, and even exterminating an entire race. However, one of the games achievements will task you with playing through the entire game 100 percent uncorrupted, so those of you who want all the points possible will have to play through the game as a relatively nice guy at least once. For those of us who aren't, we get to be as evil as we like. *insert maniacally, evil laughter here*
CCC Freelance Writer