If smashing crates and boxes is your thing, this is your game. Otherwise, approach with caution.
UncleLev wrote this review on .
Now it's out and I have finally played and completed it. While it wasn't everything I had hoped it would be, it at least has a bit of appeal which might keep you interested for a while, if you can get over all its constant quirks and bugs.
In Overlord, you take the role of, you guessed it, an Overlord. You control minions who do your evil bidding for you, although your overlord character has a significant part in the game play mechanic as the minions do. Well, sort of. Sometimes it feels like there is too much of an emphasis on the minions and the overlord himself seems pointless during many situations. Your minions collect treasure for you, find items they can equip and for the most part do most of the combat for you. This lack of balance is just one of the many design flaws I encountered on my quest to spread evil throughout the realm.
The game is a mixture of a real time strategy and a role playing game, though it seems to ignore both of these formulas quite a bit while merely scratching the surface of them. This leads to the game feeling rather empty and devoid of interaction. You can't go into houses and buildings other than sending your minions in to sweep in and collect any treasure. There aren't shops to bargain with, or even a variety of weapons other than three classes and three strengths throughout the entire game. This feels a bit limited and much of the time you don't feel that you can really do anything you want in the world or get too involved in it. Whats worse is there is relatively no point whatsoever in the game. A plot is almost nonexistent up until the last couple of hours in the game, and even then it is very uninspired. It felt like the developers had a good concept in their hands and pissed it away with poor planning and a lack of vision.
What is worse is that the control is incredibly poorly thought out and the movement feels very clunky with the overlord barely moving his arms as he walks. It seems like there was little, if any, motion capturing done which resulted in a very archaic look. Aside from the minions, whom are animated mediocre at best, character animations throughout the world are sub-par. Lip syncing doesn't even exist and the movements of all characters feels rather rigid. Controlling your overlord is done with the left analog stick and controlling the minions is done with the right analog stick, so as you can guess swinging the camera around requires you holding an extra button (left bumper). Throughout playing the game, my finger was almost constantly at least hovering over the left bumper because the camera fails to keep up with what's important for you to see. Moving the minions is necessary not only for combat but because they are capable of going in many areas your overlord is not. Unfortunately, the minions control begins to get very unresponsive, especially as you have more minions in your horde. Your overlord can only move at two different speeds and your minions can only move at a single speed, which again feels very archaic for a next-gen game.
Tasks that would seem to be very simple can become quite a chore simply because of a poor control design and rigid movements. For example, every time your overlord is to attack, he stops in place, which makes killing a simple bug difficult itself just because every time you swing your weapon the creature moves away. This feels like it was a result of the lack of motion capturing in which the game is incapable of animating you to walk at the same time as swing a weapon - very lame.
Sadly, the game is filled with design flaws. Minions seem to be able to attack enemies you aren't even supposed to know exist yet through doors! While your minions carry an object back to a portal to bring it to your tower, they have to take predefined and often unnecessary routes just to make getting the object harder. This is ridiculous because several times the minions could easily get an object back to a portal much quicker and easier but the game insists on forcing the minions to take a harder and absolutely unnecessary route instead. Even though there are four minion types you are only allowed to select either one type or all of them; how you are not able to select two colors as once is astonishing - my guess is because the control was already built poorly and this would have only made it worse. Every time you go to a new area and the game has to load the type of minions and spell you had selected are unselected again which is also very annoying. While there are portals spread around throughout the realm which allow for easy transport, they don't allow you to teleport to any area - so instead you almost always end up wasting time teleporting to your tower first and then teleporting to the area you wanted to go to. This annoyance must have been completely overlooked because it serves no purpose when the bottom line is you are able to teleport to the desired location once you are in your tower.
You would think with all of the poor design aspects of the game there should at least be some redeeming qualities. Well, graphics would have to be that quality because AI certainly isn't. The AI is incredibly stupid. I know these are supposed to be minions and they shouldn't be too bright, but that is no excuse for some of the stupid things your minions will do or will refuse to do. Fortunately, the enemy AI is also really stupid which can work to your advantage. Several times larger enemies will try attacking you by rolling towards you. If there happens to be an object in front of them or if they were barely hitting the edge of a wall, they will be unable to hit you and as stupid as they are continue to do this over and over. All along you can have your flaming minions throwing fire at them while they keep rolling into a wall. Quite a sad sight to see.
Design flaws aside, the game is also loaded with bugs. I encountered several of them and while many of them are relatively minor they add up to create the feeling of a really rusty game. Since minions don't seem to really consume any physical space, since you can group 40 or so to a tiny corner in which only one can fit and you would only see one, this lead to a bug in which minions occasionally get stuck inside objects. At least five times I ended up having a minion or two get stuck inside a wall or rock somehow so that minion would be useless until you left the area to force the game to reload. The soldiers you fight in some parts of the game also come with their own little quirk. It seems that any time you deal the final critical blow to kill a soldier who is on the ground they will first jump up and then fall over dead! I had to have witnessed this countless times and it looked very cheesy. After you "make it" with your mistress in the tower, there seemed to be a bug in which Gnarl continues to tell you anytime you are in the tower that your mistress is waiting for you in your room. I must have checked countless times after I had already done this scene and she simply wasn't even though the dialog continued to repeat and repeat after you "score" that achievement. There was another such bug in which you are to lead an enemy into a portal to your castle to finish them off there. What happened here the first time playing was I had her cornered on top of a building and she didn't go anywhere anymore. No matter where I sent my minions or ran around to, she was completely stuck in place and couldn't move anymore. This forced me to leave the area and re visit it in which the game was forced to reload the scene.
The games overall best quality is the most shallow of them all - graphics. The graphics are well done with some nicely designed environments with quite a bit of detail and good textures to boot, even if it appears to be "boring" quite a bit of style from Fable. While the frame rate isn't as high as some other Xbox 360 games, it at least runs pretty smoothly for the most part even when there are a lot of polygons on screen. Playing online is a different story altogether though as log is almost consistently annoying with every new match you play. The only real negative aspect of the graphics, besides having it's own unique style, is that the draw distance wasn't very great and looked quite old school in several areas.
The audio in Overlord is quite standard with nothing too spectacular and some really irritating (and repetitive) voice overs. I've never encountered more annoying elves in my days of gaming then in Overlord. It's bad enough the voice overs sound very amateur, but they are also incredibly repetitive. You will end up hearing the same stupid lines in the same stupid voices countless times as you revisit regular locations.
I really think Overlord was capable of being so much more than it is, but it's complete lack of vision and purpose proved how shallow the game really is. The abundant design issues and bugs only worsens the already uninspired title. It is a shame that Overlord wasn't more than it ended up being, but saying it only needs some polishing is an understatement. It needs quite a bit of it's core rethought out to address the large number of problems it has. Fortunately, the added online play adds a bit more excitement to the otherwise bland and repetitive quest.
Gameplay: (6) Moderate length of a single player quest, ridden with control problems and bugs. Additional online play does little to justify a "must own".
Graphics: (8) The most redeeming quality of all. Good style, even if unoriginal, with great environments and textures. Poor motion capturing is a disappointment.
Sound: (5) Mediocre music and horribly annoying voice overs that will get so repetitive you will contemplate braking your television.
Lasting appeal: (6) It doesn't take very long before you start to realize how repetitive the game is. It is fun for a while, but begins to be quite dull. Fortunately, the online play can be fairly enjoyable and might get you to play it a little bit longer.