Overlord Review (Xbox360)

Ever have the need to command tiny demonic creatures with an incredible sense of humor? No, it isnít The Darkness, though that guess wouldnít be far off. Itís Overlord, with a much more child-friendly outlook on performing evil tasks, and the occasional choice to rape and pillage towns. Come on kids!

Remember, your minions are stupid. They will bring you money instead of killing the enemy
The average bad guy isnít this ugly. The average ugly bad guy isnít this ugly

Overlord really could work as a childrenís title too, unlike the one-day-older The Darkness. Itís cynically light humor with a dark overtone makes it suitable for anyone not faint of heart. While the ESRB rating demands only those 13 years of age and up, any kid not inclined to burn everything to the ground could very well enjoy it.

With the premise of being a sleeping evil being, you find a world where evil isnít much of a hassle. Youíre woken to fix that and bring balance to the world, an almost noble cause. After a quick training session which teaches the schematics of controlling the gremlin-like minions in your command, the truth is revealed.

The last overlord couldnít take the heat that a group of heroes brought. So they ransacked the castle and have been living high and mighty ever since. Now, as the new overlord, you must rebuild the castle and wreak havoc throughout the land.

However, it isnít that simple. The game gives you a choice. You can be a good bad guy, or a bad bad guy. This means you can have the loyalty and respect of people based on how you actually save them, or kill them off and reign terror throughout. This will later on influence the type of magic spells available to use.

As for choice, thatís about it. Play the game as you like and follow the directions, and everything is fine. The directions arenít necessarily specific, so it can be very easy to be stuck at any given part for long periods of time before going mad and looking up what to do next.

No, bloody unicorns is always a bad thing
Commanding 50 minions? Somewhat difficult. Wiping out an entire town in one fell swoop? Priceless

But thatís not the fun part. No, the most exciting thing is using the minions. Developer Triumph Studios made an intelligent system of control simply using the right analog stick. To move and command minions, just tilt the said thumb stick in the required direction and all the selected minions will run there.

Like telepathically commanding these creatures, they will go to and fro based off that one system. What was very bothersome was how limited that system is. The only additional commands are to select one of four types of minions to do your bidding. This may be helpful, but for the most part it is useless for anyone considering advanced commands like groupings of different minion types, making defensive perimeters, etc.

The only other function is to tell a group to stay put by hitting the ďYĒ button. That in turn is absolutely useless because it only works on the area you are currently standing on, and there are plenty of times when the overlord simply cannot get to where your minions need to be.

As for the big man himself, he doesnít do much other than command. His attacks are more powerful than any minion, but using him consistently is never a good idea. Ranged magic attacks can be very helpful in dire situations, though as long as you know where to find the life force for each minion type you can keep dying with no penalty other than lost time.

Problems are much closer than the horizon however, with bugs pouring out of minion holes without the overlordís consent. While it graphically looks like a low end 360 game, the feel is that of a last-gen title. Places that force you to go around because of a two inch difference in ground height, stubby camera controls, and awkward moving minions are just a few of the issues.

Maddeningly, the worst is when minions follow you into water but wait, because they canít swim, but the moment you command them to move back on land they realize that they are in that water already. And suddenly five or six are dead. Itís not considered evil if it wasnít done on purpose.

The glaring list of puzzles can also be disheartening to anyone who wants to sit back and enjoy the game. Every level seems to be riddled with them, popping out from every corner. In fact, this gives Overlord the feel of an RTS, which works in some ways, but in this case it makes it feel like a never-ending campaign.

Such scenes make it clear why the rating is 13+
Arming your minions is key to making a formidable assault

No, the average adult will be amused by the gameís wit for only so long, but the younger crowd is and has taken a liking to it, and for good reason. Snappy humor, easy gameplay, and the chance to control adorably sickening creatures. What more could a kid ask for? With a bit of work done on the controls and gameplay, this refreshingly different title could have hit excellence. And with the recently added cooperative play, amassing minions to storm some enemy filled castle can be as fun as ever!

Top Game Moment:
Defeating the ugliest boss in the game using only my overpowered Overlord because of a poor use of minion tactics.

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