Destruction and mayhem were what the original Overlord was all about, and that trend continues in Overlord II, in which you start off as a little tyke known as the Overlad--eager and ready to conquer the world. We saw the game several months ago at Codemasters' press event, but this time a representative from Triumph Studios stopped by our offices to give us a more detailed look at our budding evil villain.
The story is set after the original game, and you play as the heir to the previous Overlord. The first level is the tutorial level, set in a snowy village where you can get a feel for what you can do. At this point, your wickedness is limited to destroying snowmen and firing off rockets, but you'll eventually meet the minions, loyal servants whom you direct with simple button commands. With your new brainless recruits in tow, you'll steal clothes from other children to disguise the ugly gremlins and then sneak them into the village party. However, you aren't going to be the only one looking for trouble. There's a new empire growing and spreading across the land, banishing everything that is evil and all things magical. Since that encompasses you, you must learn how to manage your minions and avoid getting caught.
The minions are smarter this time around, and they can help you manage heavy machinery, like catapults. Depending on color of the minions, they'll jump on mounts (like wolves or spiders) so they can access areas that are otherwise unreachable by foot. A minimap is shown at the bottom of the screen to direct you to your next quest, making exploration a bit easier, and the camera can now be controlled with the right analog stick. The stick isn't solely dedicated to the camera, however, because you can swing the camera left and right and force your minions to charge forward by pushing up on the analog stick. Seal clubbing was demonstrated the last time we saw the game, so we decided to skip the destruction of cute animals by jumping into a land of fairies, complete with environmentalist elves speaking in a Californian accent. This magical place is separate from the human world, as the fairies have decided to live peacefully and harmoniously with other magical creatures. This clearly doesn't sit very well with you as the evil Overlord; plus, there are riches and gems to be discovered. In this fairyland, we were able to see a new feature that lets you possess the body of a minion. By doing this, you can sneak into areas undetected and break down barriers so that you can easily barge through once you've returned to your own body.
The fairy world was incredibly beautiful and majestic, filled with blooming dandelions that you can trample on and watch as the white bits of fluff float away. Your single-track minded creatures are easily distracted by busty fairies, so you'll have to keep an eye out to make sure they don't wander off in a trance. Dangerous plants litter the pathways, where you might see some poor empire soldier about to be digested, but it's not exactly your problem now, is it?
Our guided tour led us to the Netherworld, the new hub for the Overlord that is much larger than the tower in the previous game. Your minions have built a tower from a stalactite dangling from the ceiling, so technically your tower is upside down. As you go out on your travels, you can bring back items to make your abode more homey, not just for yourself, but for your mistresses as well. You can have up to three lady friends, so it's up to you whether or not you want to be a one-woman sort of Overlord. Other than visiting your female companion(s), you can return home to forge new weapons and armor for easier plundering. Minions that you've grown fond of and lost can also be resurrected here.
The final stop was a quick look at the Empire Heartlands, full of rolling hills and sun-bleached Tuscany fields but overrun by zealous soldiers and human slaves. You can free the slaves and subdue them so that they work for you instead. Like minions, they can perform some basic functions, like attacking enemies and picking up items for you. Our tour ended here, but from what we've seen, there's plenty of havoc and chaos to be a part of, and it only gets better when you're the one causing it.
Fans of the previous game will find that there's a lot to look forward to in the sequel. Let chaos reign when Overlord II is released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on June 23.