Motorstorm, Resistance and now Overlord. Big fat slabs of gaming meat carved into chunks for you to enjoy. This time however, we’re not faced with a giant slab of gaming meat, we’re faced with a mundane duo. Overlord I and II, I’m not counting Raising Hell because that thing has gone out of print. Past franchises I’ve dealt with have had a leap forward with their second, third or billionth title, but this one is extremely different. I dare say it’s a hell of a lot like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2, not much has changed, but that’s a hell lot of fun. This? Just a hell lot of none.
Overlord, as a whole, tells the story of a giant… overlord as he gains minions and such to take over the land. He has to get materials, get gold and basically manage an entire goblin army. Nowhere in this manic shopping list does it say ‘Get the shopping in’, but I guess one goblin or two would probably be tasked with that. There’s a lot of English folk doing the voice-overs, it’s set in a ye olde time but with a small emphasis on magic and there’s more than one annoying feature to ruin the game for you… so it’s pretty much Fable 2 minus the Molyneux.
You summon these guys by coming upon large holes in the ground, and then direct them by holding the right trigger (or both mouse buttons) and fiddling with the right analogue stick. It sort of feels like your massaging a french bagel or trying to eat spaghetti with your small toe. If you want that in English, the controls suck. That’s when a game falls flat on its face, when it doesn’t have the right interface in order to play it. You’re supposed to be tactical with your imps too, but really you’ll just be pushing them all into the nearest enemy and hoping for the best.
Oddly enough, the whole game has a sort of charm about it. It’s actually quite funny at some points, the minions/ goblins/ miniature Kerry Katonas (English joke yay) all have a nice little bit of humor about them. They’ll be seen with pumpkins around their heads, or hassling the local citizens. A quick read on Wikipedia reveal that the whole story and dialogue was written by Terry Pratchett’s daughter. Now that’s top class. Apart from having an awful centerpiece of a game, the wit and charm of the world of Overlord is still present. Still not enough to save it.
The main problem with Overlord is the way it tries to do everything at once. It has upgrades, minion tossing, minion classes, combat, ladies, environmental hazards and it all feels like an amputee trying to juggle twenty balls at once. For starters, you have to go through a LONG loading screen just to access your upgrade store. Which is in your castle, by the way, so you have to trek all the way back to it whenever you fancy a nibble of an upgrade. I timed this loading screen, one minute and three seconds. I can install the Orange Box or Saints Row 2 on to my PS3 in that amount of time.
Another problem I have with this thing is the way it faces linearity. For the first levels or so, you can go down a few paths and do your evil shopping list but afterwards, it becomes a bumbling huge corridor. Well, not exactly a corridor. It’s like being on holiday, and not being allowed to go into the Washington Monument, but you can still look at it from an invisible wall. This is basically Overlord I and II, a cramped claustrophobic walk down a corridor, slamming ten or so minions into bumbling enemies. This isn’t fun, this is madness, this is boring!
Presentation isn’t exactly a strong point of this title, there’s a lot of jaggies around the edges and the cute graphics may look cute at first. But the textures are awful, environments take minutes to stream information and you’ll often find yourself just waiting for the level to load… after a minute long loading screen. You’d think they’d iron these problems out with a patch or in Overlord II. You’d think they’d improve everything in Overlord II, but no. All you get is one big giant expansion pack. Overlord II isn’t a sequel, it’s Overlord I with a whole environmental re-design and a few cut-scenes rehashed.
What it boils down to is the lack of bite in the game. There’s no addictive hook or fun to be had, just a god awful control scheme and the occasional laugh out of it. You can do the combat yourself, as the Overlord, and you’ll genuinely laugh at how much effort was put in. There’s three animations of attack for the Overlord himself, and each looks and feels like your just waggling a stick against a penguin and hoping that it dies. So that’s Overlord I and II, no wait, that’s Overlord. Don’t buy it, don’t rent it, just look everything up on Youtube and have a nice good chuckle to yourself.