Monday, October 29, 2007

Review: "Overlord" is fun, even for a saint

As much as I loved "Lord of the Rings," I enjoyed smashing Frodo's family crib in Codemaster's "Overlord."

The game starts out with you being resurrected from a long ... I mean LONG sleep. You have an adviser imp telling you what has happened during your absence. From there, you start training to become the master of darkness. You learn how to fight and use minions to do some of your dirty work. Before long, you grow into the ultimate villian - well, in this game.

You start out with 5 minions. Depending on what you do, that number can grow to huge numbers. You can use them to move obstacles, fight enemies and move objects back to your lair. They can come in handy, and even NPCs (nonplayable characters) in the game will ask you if they are for hire.

The main problem with minions are they can be distracted easily. While they are great at swarming, they really should study a Navy SEAL handbook about tactics. You control the minions with your right analog stick and *sweep* them into whatever direction you want. If you want to attack or bring pain to a certain location, you turn into the said direction and hit the left trigger to lock on and issue the order to "bring it."

The minions are totally at your disposal. You can even call on them to sacrifice themselves in order for you to gain energy/magic power from life and magic fountains. At your command, they will jump into the fountains, die and their energy will fill your matter up. That's love, my friend.

You also have magic powers to keep the locals in line. It brought my heart great joy to torch Frodo's cousin's place and have my minions trash the halfling's condos. Sweet!

As much fun as it is, and the comments from townsfolks are a hoot, control is a devil at times. Sometimes, you try to turn and end up sending the minions offscreen. Other times, you will faced one way, try to use the right analog stick and end up moving the minions all over the place. That can get frustrating at times. The camera angles can be odd, too. There should be a button to allow your character to look around.

Also, the weapon select is rather paltry. Maybe I haven't advanced far enough in the game, but I am stuck with the same hatchet from the beginning of the game. Hay - if I am going to be the head evil dude, can I please have a light saber or cat-of-nine tails?

The graphics are pretty cool and the game reminds me of the evil path in Lionhead's 'Fable' but on a smaller scale. The sounds are good - but the dialogue is to die for.

It's a right tide-me-over until "Fable 2" hits the 360 in '08.

Why should I care: You are an evil master who has an entourage of minions that roll like Pac Man Jones' posse. They can wreck shop and like to buy the bar out.

The good: Evil has never been more fun - crazy minions - sweet character dialogue - fun levels - minions who will die for you and won't disobey your commands - bringing it to Frodo's family and loved ones. (my favorite part)

The bad:
Horrible controls - ok graphics - no multiplayer

The ugly: Melvin the halfling - hay Melvin, crack kills!

Overall: 8.5 - It's a fun game - will definitely amuse you, but the controls could sour the experience for you. Yet, it's still a great game to just wreck things and makes being evil more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

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