Sequel to the two year old Overlord, Overlord II doesn’t stray too far from the formula. Take control of the Overlord who in turn can control a bunch of minions. Wield said Overlord and his collection of demonic buddies as you wreak chaos across the land and build your own evil domain back in the netherworld.
Control is initially pretty straight forward, with the traditional controls (left analogue stick and some face buttons) used to control your Overlord in third person, with the right analogue stick (and some other buttons) used to manipulate your minions. Cleverly the right analogue stick performs two functions – you can actually use it to manipulate the camera until you send your minions out by pressing up, at which point it controls only you minions.
You can also hold down the right trigger, which will cause your minions to wantonly attack anything directly in front of the Overlord – a good default attack when you’re in the thick of things or just want to trash the place.
In addition to wielding your minions against a myriad of comical (think: Asterix & Obelix type Gauls or villagers, as an example) enemies, you can also let them loose on a considerable quantity of the environment. They’ll gleefully trash the homes of villagers, for example, bringing about significant destruction in an orgy of physics-driven chaos which never gets tiresome to unleash.
In the midst of the chaos, your little lads will often pickup bits of armor (or items to use as armor), weapons or any manner of odd little bits and pieces that improve their inherent ability (be it melee, ranged fire attacks – etc). The net result in a crew that becomes both better and more comically disheveled as you use them – a win any way you look at it.
Enemies are fun to dispatch, with obvious influences from other games and other media. The hippy elf dudes are almost certainly at least slightly drawn from Zelda’s hero – albeit in a ridiculously annoying, i-can’t-wait-to-punch-him kind of way. Starting the game by tasking the player with clubbing the cutest little baby seals you ever did see is an interesting (if controversial) choice but given our preferred All Black Hooker once had that as a hobby, who are we to judge.
Level layouts can be a little obtuse at times and the goal of any given quest (which you receive back at the netherworld base) can be frustratingly vague or not even aparent until you dive into the menus to see what you’re supposed to be doing. Your little lads don’t always seem to respond to your loving touch in exactly the way you expect and having to sub-select them by holding RB and pressing a face button before choosing your target and issuing orders can be a little intense in the middle of combat.
The sound is mostly excellent however the voice instructions (for which there are no apparent subtitles) are very softly spoken and typically lost in the din of a cutscene or gameplay sequence. It sure does look and sound nice most of the time, however. Some anti-aliasing wouldn’t have gone a miss. The characters are absurd caricatures and all the better for it, adding immensely to the charm. Their animation is a highlight, bringing their annoying, cannot-wait-to-twat-’em personalities to life.
Overlord II is a good game that falls just short of true greatness as some niggling usability and control issues create enough drag to prevent it entering the stratosphere. It’s fun, looks great and will make you chuckle – you’ll just be frustrated a little more often than is entirely forgivable. Very definitely worth a look, though, even if you thrashed the first one.