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Overlord 2 Review

Genres: Action RTS Adventure All
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Triumph Studios
Publisher: Codemasters
Review Date: 18-12-2009
Review Platform: PC
Review Region: Steam 
Est Playtime: 16+ hrs
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

With the previous Overlord trapped in another dimension, following the events of the Raising Hell expansion pack, a new Overlord must be found. Fortunately for evil everywhere the former Overlord has a son Ė the Witch Kid. While he grows into full evil-hood an Empire is rising to dominate magical creatures throughout the land.

overlord2_038Overlord 2 feels exactly the same as the first game. Yes it is a sequel but I canít remember any other sequel that had such a strong feeling of familiarity. I havenít played the first game since its release so itís surprising. Itís also not a bad thing as I quite liked its predecessor.

overlord2_008The basic setup is that the player controls four types of minions which are used to both kill enemies and manipulate objects. Itís a simple RTS at heart with adventure game puzzle solving added in. The four types of minions are: browns, the fighters, reds, the archers, greens, the assassins, and blues, the healers and each of them are summoned to the battle field from pits. Summoning requires life force which is gathered from seals and enemies. In addition to their combat abilities minions have puzzle related abilities, such as blues being the only minions who can swim. The minionís aversion to water isnít their only Gremlin like trait; their appearance and humour are just like their movie inspiration. Theyíll pick up objects from defeated enemies, increasing their combat effectiveness, and become walking trophy halls of recent victories.

overlord2_043A new addition to the sequel is that minions can now mount other animals. Browns mount wolves, while greens mount spiders and reds mount salamanders. They gain some combat advantage while mounted but itís primarily a tool for progressing through the levels. Wolves can leap over gaps, spiders can climb walls and salamanders can roll. However these are not always well utilized. I only discovered that wolves can leap by pure accident and each mount has little to no use beyond its level of discovery.

overlord2_021The puzzle element of the game has taken a step forward with more sophisticated uses for minions. Now youíll use them to crew boats and catapults and possess them to pass through small passageways. Even disguise them to get through patrolled areas. Itís a great improvement over the first Overlord but theyíre well used by the end of the game. There was also one occasion where I couldnít figure out what I was supposed to do. Normally when something is destroyable it flashes but on this occasion it didnít.

overlord2_024This iteration has more emphasis on quests although theyíre still almost all mandatory. Early on in the game youíre asked to conquer the town of Nordberg, something which is repeated with other towns. Once you garrison the town the quest remains despite being able to move on to the next thing and I was left scratching my head. What the game didnít explain was that you had to dominate (a spell) or kill 100 villagers to complete the quest. This is actually quite time consuming to do and the only reason I knew how to do was a tip that appeared during a loading screen. It wasnít the only time the game failed to explain itself as Iíve already mentioned.

overlord2_031The controls are the same as before, minions are sent to enemies or objects with the left mouse button and recalled by the right. Minion types are selected by number keys but crucially they canít be assigned to prearranged mixed type groups. They can only be grouped together by sending them to the same waypoint, which is not really practical during combat. This means that with certain enemies the controls are pushed to their limit. You donít have fine enough control to stop minions from being splattered and itís compounded by the fact that they donít always respond immediately. Another issue with the controls is Sweeping. By holding down both mouse buttons minions can be directed explicitly around the environment but its response is laggy and itís behaviour patchy. Sometimes the camera doesnít follow them around and sometimes they get split up. This was frustrating when I was called upon to sweep spider minions around a wall to keep an elevator moving. The time pressure, the maneuverability needed, and the sheer length really exposed the problems with the way sweeping works.

overlord2_052You may have already noticed from the screenshots but the Overlord himself is an avatar in the game which you control. He has his own weapons, spells and life bar and provides an additional source of firepower. I felt I had to step in with him a lot more this time around and consequentially died a lot more. This was due to the lack of fine control over minions and more enemies that can massacre minions. While on the controls again the button presses needed to activate spells is convoluted. Alt isnít my favourite key to press while using WASD and some spells are activated by pressing A+D+Alt. Thereís no reason not to have single key activation when you have an entire keyboard at your disposal. The Overlord avatar also has an alignment Ė destruction or domination Ė which changes depending on your choices during the gameís quests and it also alters the gameís ending.

overlord2_007Overlord 2 looks very pretty thanks to some lovely water reflections and a wide variety of colours. I donít know why but most games stick to brown and grey; here blues, purples, and greens abound. The ice and Everlight forest sections epitomize this design choice. These levels also have the best music which is equally pretty. Some songs even managed to remind me of pieces from Donkey Kong Country, which is always a good thing.

Overlord 2 is much the same as the first game only this time it has more sophisticated puzzles, more interesting uses for minions and minion mounts. The first game was enjoyable, if a bit frustrating at times which is something this game mostly lacked. Perhaps playing the first prepared me for this, hence less frustration. Either way Overlord 2 is a good game with humour, decent if simplistic combat, and satisfying puzzle solving.