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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action / Strategy

 

Publisher

Codemasters

 

Developer

Triumph Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

June 28, 2007

 

 

- Managing the minions is straightforward

- Single-player and online battles

- Great graphics

- Good humor

 

 

- The campaign wanders a bit leaving it up to the player to figure out where to go next

- Later on, there can be so many minions running around you it doesn't feel like you're in control

 

 

Review: Dead Rising (360)

Review: Pikmin 2 (GC)

Review: Sacrifice (PC)

 

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Overlord

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

Though players can upgrade themselves with better armor and weapons, and even add accoutrements to a mighty spire that just screams “EVIL”, 90% of the time the line between victory and defeat is drawn by a gurgling rabble of Gremlin-sized minions that are both the most important weapons and tools in the game and a resource that must be properly managed.  In short, Overlord straddles three different genres – strategy, action, role-playing – which should have meant a flat game, that didn’t get anything right, but Triumph Studios weaves the genres together in such a way as to make a compelling and fun game, with a silly sensibility.

 

overlord          overlord

 

Since your predecessor’s demise at the hands of a bunch of heroes, the land has run amok, so as the resurrected Overlord it falls to you to take what isn’t yours, put those heroes in their place, and slaughter lots and lots of sheep along the way.

 

Looking a little like an escapee from The Lord of the Rings, the Overlord stomps from place to place, with a limited roster of slashing combos and spells to lay

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waste to anyone that gets in his way.  But the main weapon/tool are the four varieties of minion, which are elemental in their design: Brown (earth), Blue (water), Red (fire), and Green (uh, stealth gas).

 

As each minion type is unearthed, their pros and cons are clearly laid out.  The green minions are the only type able to

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eliminate gas clouds; red minions throw arcing fireballs and can put out fires; blue minions are the only ones that can travel through water, plus they can resurrect fallen minions; and brown minions act as the vanguard for any frontal attack since they’re so durable as they equip themselves with found weapons and armor.  There’s a need to manage the numbers and types of each minion as there is a cap on the number of units that can be controlled.  This cap increases as the game goes on but it puts a further emphasis on assembling the right combination of minions to overcome the environmental puzzles without doing a lot of backtracking to swap minions.

 

Handling the minions is done via the right stick to “sweep” them to where you want them to go.  They can also be told to stick to one area.  Basically, this means that Reds can be positioned on high ground for support while the Overlord and some Browns go toe-to-toe on the low ground.  It’s not too complex, which is a very good thing because later in the game when the minion cap is relatively high, there can be a lot going on at any one time.

 

overlord          overlord

 

The minions serve a secondary purpose during the upgrading process.  For example, upgrading your axe to deal more damage will cost you some Brown minions.  If you want to boost your axe damage more quickly, sacrifice more minions.  You might have to spend more time collecting minion essence (i.e. killing animals, mostly) but the trade-off in having a stronger axe and boosted stats.

 

Comedy creeps into Overlord all over the place.  From little things like minions riding sheep, dropping heavy things on their toes, and frothing unicorns to the one-liners from random townsfolk, it all comes together to convey a world that is alive and yet not too serious even when the zombies show up.  But be warned, as writer and co-producer Rhianna Pratchett told us in our Interview, “There’s a certain amount of Monty Python-esque humour in there, although maybe that’s a British thing.” So, if you’re not a fan of that kind of humor you might not crack as many smiles as I did while playing.

 

Maybe the biggest surprise here is that Triumph Studios included an online option. A couple of Versus modes -- Slaughter and Pillage -- and Co-Op Survival fill out an already substantial game.

 

- Omni

(August 29, 2007)

 

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