Overlord Dark Legend Impressions

The minions make the journey to the Wii for a new and fiendish escapade.

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Overlord: Dark Legend
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When Overlord hit the Xbox 360 in 2007, we were charmed by its evil ways, delighting as our little minions ran amok following our evil commands. Now it's finally the Wii's turn, and rather than attempting to port the 2007 original or its upcoming sequel, Codemasters has opted to develop an entirely fresh Overlord for the platform.

Overlord Dark Legend takes place before the events of the original game. The opening tutorial section sees your character, a young prince, don the black armor, pick up the hulking great sword, and acquire his first batch of minions after gleefully smashing some stuff up.

The Overlord cut a slighter figure in his youth... but the minions are just as ugly yet adorable as ever.
The Overlord cut a slighter figure in his youth... but the minions are just as ugly yet adorable as ever.

We got to see the first section of gameplay, where you suit up and meet a chief minion who offers you a basic introduction to minion control and wanton destruction. From there, we managed to make it to a set-piece boss fight, where you have to destroy a pumpkin-firing tank controlled by a halfling. All this with nothing but your sword and a small collection of minions at your command.

While the Wii version looks good, it appears, initially at least, that there are fewer minions on hand to control. For the entirety of the first section, you can have only five at a time under your command. We're assured this increases later on, and the smaller number doesn't adversely affect the gameplay; in fact, having a smaller number of grateful minions proffering treasures as they find them for you is rather endearing.

The Wii control scheme also works fairly well--the nunchuk is used for controlling your movement and basic attacks, while the Wii Remote is used to control your minions, magic, and other abilities. During our time with the demo, we saw a red hive recovered, allowing for the addition of red fire-hurling minions to our pack, and a magical relic that gave the overlord the ability to hurl lightning from his fingertips, as any self-respecting dark lord should be able to do. The D pad on the Wii remote lets you cycle through the minion types, while the A button calls your horde to you, and the B button sends them to engage with either objects or foes.

The range of objects and foes makes this game more strategic, as it's not just about running around smashing things up. One puzzle we saw involved setting up a guard dummy for three red minions to hide behind. Once this is achieved, they can lay down covering fire against some unsuspecting halflings who are on a balcony guarding the controls to a door you need to get through.

Brown minions with their little clubs still form the backbone of your offensive force.
Brown minions with their little clubs still form the backbone of your offensive force.

The single most charming thing we saw in the demo was the way that when you reveal items in the environment--be it from smashing up crates, getting your minions to open chests, or just through slaughter--your little grinning followers quickly pick the loot up and rush over to offer it up to you with undisguised glee and reverence.

So far, Overlord Dark Legend looks like it's going to be a good example of how to take an ambitious franchise and move it onto the Wii. The game was designed from the ground up with the control scheme in mind, but the dark humour and wanton destruction were kept very much intact. Stay tuned to GameSpot as the summer release date approaches!

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