Overlord II Review
This demon-controlling adventure lets you do more fun things with your evil minions, but Overlord II hasn't shaken all of the issues that held back the first game.
- Varied gameplay
- Minions have cool new abilities
- Lengthy campaign
- Good sense of humour.
- Camera gets in the way
- Targeting system is shaky
- Minions can still be a little dumb.
The impish minions of the Overlord universe haven't been idle in the two years that have passed since the first game and have emerged with a host of new tricks in Overlord II. The evil little scamps have used the time off to learn how to operate machinery, wear disguises, sail the open seas, ride mounts, and get possessed by their evil master, as well as develop an uncanny talent for attacking baby seals. These additions make Overlord II a more varied experience than the first game, and while some of the issues that hampered the original have been addressed, they haven't exactly been fixed. Overlord II retains the gleeful maliciousness of the series; thus, it's still great fun to have a small army of nasty little blighters at your disposal to wreak havoc. But because the in-game camera is still shaky, the targeting spotty, and the minions apt to do some very dumb things, you can expect quite a bit of frustration to go along with your enjoyment.
Though the minions have evolved and you're playing as a brand new overlord this time around, the title character remains as mute and inscrutable as in the original. The game is set dozens of years after the first game, so you'll have to start your evil dominion from scratch, with the new enemy being the Roman-like Glorious Empire. The tone of the game is satirical, sharp, and more than a little silly--the elves here are portrayed as hippie environmentalists, the Empire nobles are obese snobs, and the fairies are ridiculously overendowed. Meanwhile, the soldiers act like they stepped straight out of an Asterix comic. It's all harmless fun, and while you will get to kill your fair share of cute animals, your silent, mainly charmless overlord won't really get to do anything too nasty.
Because the main character is so impassive, it's once again up to the minions to carry the charm quotient of the game. The minions are a cackling, gleeful lot of destructive slobs who are endearing in their dedication to their master, and it's a joy to watch them attack enemies, harass innocents, and act like general nuisances. You'll be well into the game before you find all four types of minions--the melee-focused browns, the flame-throwing reds, the sneak-attacking greens, and the magic-heavy blues--but when you do, you'll have a formidable miniarmy at your disposal. As overlord, you need this support because--despite your intimidating Sauron-like garb--you're no match solo for more than a few enemies at any one time. All of the heavy lifting will be done by your minions, and while you'll be able to get away with sheer force of numbers in many encounters, the toughest battles in Overlord II will require you to think hard about your minion mix and how you deploy them on the battlefield.
Initially, it can be a little intimidating to deploy your minions, and you'll need to be fairly dexterous when manipulating the controller. It's nothing a little practice won't overcome, however, and you'll soon be sweeping units across the landscape, separating your minions into their respective color groups to take advantage of their unique strengths (and shield their weaknesses), and making them hold strategic checkpoints with ease. For the most part, your minions are dependable creatures who'll find the best path to take or attack the most present danger. They can, however, still be quite dumb, which means a certain amount of micromanagement from their overlord is in order. Minions will often stop to pick up booty when there are still plenty of dangerous enemies attacking, and some are prone to aquatic suicide by trying to pick up objects close to water.
Despite their occasional brain lapses, this time around, your minions are a much more talented bunch and their most important new trait is the ability to ride different mounts. Three of the four minion types have their own specific beastie they can ride, allowing them to vastly increase their effectiveness and speed. It's satisfying to see your reds do damaging rolling-strafing runs atop their fire lizards. And breaking through a heavily shielded phalanx becomes a breeze when your browns are mounted on their wolves. Opportunities to ride don't occur too often in the game, but when they do, it's a welcome change from Overlord II's usual gameplay.
In fact, variety is one of Overlord II's most redeeming factors. At certain points in the game, the overlord will be able to directly possess an underling, giving you the chance to play from a minion's point of view. These are some of the best sequences in the game, with one highlight being a stealth mission through a heavily guarded Empire fort using your newly found greens (sort of like Metal Gear Overlord). You'll also get to control some hefty weaponry in the form of catapults and arrow turrets, as well as take on enemy ships with your own minion-rowed vessel. In some ridiculous but quite funny missions, you'll be able to disguise your minions to gain entry into heavily guarded areas. Individually, these specific events don't occur that often, but collectively, these welcome additions mean you shouldn't get stuck with doing the same thing over and over again during Overlord II's lengthy single-player campaign.