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September 10, 2009
Overlord II - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
2/7/2009Namco BandaiCodemastersTriumph Studios1-22
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc25MB720pDD5.1NoM

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Characters in Overlord II look great.
Ever noticed that with all of the good-vs-evil, hero-vs-villain, allies-vs-enemy games that are out there, that you're always stuck on the 'good' side of the fence? Sure, real life is all about doing the 'right' thing, but we love videogames because they let us cross that boundary between what we can and can't do in reality... right? Well, if you've ever ventured through a village in a game and instead of thinking "Where can I get some health?", had something like "Which of these innocents' buildings would burn down the quickest?" on your mind, then you're reading the right review. Sit back, relax and welcome to Overlord 2, whereby the aim of the game is to be as bad and as nasty as you can possibly be.

In Overlord 2, you play the role of the Overlord, a bad-ass character who has the whole 'evil' domination' thing high on his agenda. Anarchy is hard to cause all by yourself, so as the overlord you are the master of minions; little gremlin-like critters who will follow your every whim and command. Which, in this game, consists of being a nasty little bastard and wreaking as much havoc as possible.

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An in-game screen with HUD.
Unlike the first game, Overlord: Raising Hell, you don't have the choice between good and evil... here it's now evil all the way. While there's a story lurking beneath Overlord 2, it can be summed up by your overlord sitting in his dark tower, undertaking missions to wreak havoc and improve your domination as the lord of all that's evil. Throw in afew mistresses and adult themes for good measure, and that's pretty much it; which sounds shallow, but it works for a game like this where the focus is moreso on the gameplay than an epic Oscar-winning tale.

There's more to causing chaos than just breaking afew clay pots and stray crates; Overlord 2 gives you a license to kill and pillage everything that moves. Not evil enough for you? Then how does sub-objectives throughout sound; including things like burning down villages and bashing baby fur seals? In the words of an in-game elf hippy, you are "an enemy to all that is fluffy and adorable", which sums it up quite nicely.

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Not a bloody big spider!
In Overlord 2 you control the overlord, including spells and his weapon with half the controller, and use the remaining half to direct and order up to 40 minions; the screen does get quite busy, but it's a coordinated anarchy. The minions come in 4 different breeds which you progressively unlock throughout the game, each with their own abilities. For instance, blue minions are the only ones which can traverse water, while red minions attack with fire; quite often your path will be blocked, with different minion types required to progress through puzzles, so you'll need to keep a diverse array of them by your side.

There's an almost rpg-like element to Overlord 2 with its upgrade system; kill people, animals, and anything with a pulse to harvest lifeforce, which can then be used to get more minions along the way. Everything in the game is upgradeable in one way or another; be it your armour, weapons and spells, or the minions, which come in different types and get stronger themselves. Minions level up too, and once a higher-level minion dies, you can sacrifice some lower-level minions to reincarnate him.

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Visuals are pretty nice overall.
Unfortunately while the gameplay Overlord 2 is engrossing and the story will keep you playing through, there's no real challenge to the game it just seems to be more of the same, and many of the later groups enemies can be simply averted by killing their leader. The controls are clumsy too; the analog sticks controlling your movement, the camera, and the minion movement concurrently, and quite often you'll send your minions off to god-knows-where when you really just wanted to see around a corner.

Initially you'd easily be mistaken for thinking this was a cutesy kids game the minions are very child-like, and the first overlord you play is reminiscent of a chibi-style Rahzel from the Legacy of Kain series. However if you hadn't already gathered, Overlord 2 is everything but a kids game. Visuals are very solid while they're not mind-blowingly complex, there's always plenty going on screen at once typically a dozen or so minions, extra characters, a yeti, items being destroyed, weather effects, full realtime shadowing, and no draw distance problems (save for the occasional object pop-in).

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Is that fat bastard?!
Dead enemies have a habit of falling to the ground and then just suddenly disappearing (similar to old school fighters like Streets of Rage or Double dragon) which detracts from the visual flair of the game, though normally you don't notice it because there's enough action going on to distract you from this.

Aurally Overlord 2 is very busy and has a lot going on; several-dozen concurrent screams of 'charge', 'attack', 'destroy', 'kill', and just the minions' devilish laughing are really a treat for the ears, and you can't help but feel that being evil isn't that bad after all. An animated orchestral score backs the devastation, though it's surprising how perky and alive the music is rather than going for a depressing, melancholic tone, Triumph Studios has gone for something that seems right at home in a Harry Potter movie. Again, it helps the game send a message that being evil isn't quite as bad as it's cracked up to be.

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Overlord 2's locations are fantastic.
Overlord 2 was a pleasant surprise for me; having not played the first title I was unsure what to expect, and I came out at the end wondering how this game managed to pass through the OFLC unscathed after mashing several dozen baby fur seals (and seeing some rather unsightly obese fairies with flowers on their nipples). It's fun, and it has plenty of gameplay to make it stand by itself rather than just going for shock value alone. It's just a shame that the gameplay isn't more varied in later parts of the game. Overlord 2 will keep you happily glued to the PS3 for well over a weekend, particularly if you haven't yet played the first title.

Review By: Chris Gobbett

GRAPHICSEvil has never been so comical; great style let down by a little slowdown.
73%
SOUNDThe minions' bantering keeps a smile on my face.
78%
GAMEPLAYAnarchy at its best, let down by finicky camera controls.
72%
VALUENot a heap of replayability, and online multiplayer is pretty quiet also.
69%
OVERALLWhile there are only some minor and progressive improvements over the first title, there's a lot to love in Overlord 2 for fans of the first and newcomers alike. The humour and style that Triumph Studios have blended together with the gameplay is a great combination that will soon make you forget that being evil is a 'bad' thing.
74%

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