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Overlord
(hx) 08:17 AM EDT - Jul,30 2007

Developed by Triumph Studios, Overlord is a third person action-adventure-RPG-God hybrid where you play the role of overlord, who is quite powerful but also ruthless. The back story revolves around the death of the original overlord who was killed by the Seven Lords, who have since taken over the land. You step into the role of the new Overlord and when you start the game the minion master informs you that you have to go out and instil chaos, evil and disorder across the land and take back the kingdom that's rightfully yours. These minions, therefore, aid and serve you loyally as their master and they'll die for you without a moment's hesitation if you ask them to.

As Overlord, you can attack your enemies using various weapons such as swords, axes and maces. You can also utilize magic and cast spells, which will be available during the course of the game. Now you are probably wondering why I'm talking about it... Oh well. The beautiful thing here is that your character is not really the center of the gameplay. you can't really make any progress or complete any of the game's challenges without the help of your minions, the Goblins. Your minions, Sire! You'll need to send your minions in to battles, to ransack buildings, loot chests, pick up objects and solve puzzles. Minions can be summoned through minion pits found scattered around the levels. However, you need to pay life-force, which can be gained by killing creatures, like innocent sheep or large bugs. Minions come in four colours: browns, reds, greens and blues. You'll begin the story with access to the brown minions, who are your basic fighting types with access to many types of weapon and armor. As you progress through the game, you'll regain control of other minion types. The fiery reds are immune to heat-based damage, and can fire off fireballs. The greens are immune to poison, and are able to launch powerful attacks from stealth. The blues are magic-immune healer types, able to bring other fallen minions back from the dead. It won't be long before you have access to all these types, and the challenge lies in choosing the right minions for the job. Many situations will require you to have a certain amount of a certain type of minion in order to proceed past an objective or puzzle sequence. For example, only the blues can survive in water so you need to use them to flick a switch at the bottom of the lake, or similarly the greens are the only minions capable to get through a poisonous patch of flowers.

Your minion horde - the maximum size (will be able to control up to 50 minions at a time) of which increases as you progress - is relatively easy to control. You control your minions' movement directly by sweeping them around using either the right analog stick or the mouse (depending on which control scheme you've chosen - PC version suppord both) in the direction of something you want attacked, destroyed, carried or pushed, whereupon they swarm forward in a wild gaggle and wreak havoc. They automatically equipping makeshift weapons and armor from fallen enemies, but they'll also bring you tributes in the form of gold, enemy souls for use in the creation of additional minions, and rare metals that can be used to forge new weapons and armor pieces for yourself. It's hilarious, not to mention hugely satisfying to your ego, to watch a steady stream of goblins ransack homes, slay sheep and destroy crops, then run back to you holding aloft treasures, cackling "For the Master!"



While the control scheme is inherently simple, the results can often go awry, especially when you want to target an object at a distance and multiple guard markers are set up. Since your only way of controlling your target is with facing, you may often end up wishing for a system that cycled through all available targets, which should have been included. Thankfully, the minions are generally pretty smart. They'll follow you around diligently, and if you take a route that they're unable to follow you on, they'll either stop in their tracks rather than commit suicide, or find an alternate route. The excellent minion AI is only marred by situations where they'll get stuck on something in the environment while executing a task a few screens away or just mysteriously disappear.

There are some light RPG elements in the game - you can upgrade or buy new weapons and armor, learn new spells, increase your capacity for health and mana, as well as the number of minions that you can control at once. These light RPG elements, which are tangibly useful in combat, prove addictive.

While roaming the world of Overlord, you'll receive different quests from various sources. All quests are gathered in your quest log and it is pretty easy to keep track of them. The game uses a rather linear approach and, although there are some choices available in terms of the order in which to execute quests, it's mostly based on scripted events that require you to follow a certain route the developers envisioned. Some quests in the game will make you choose between two possible paths. One path will increase your corruption level while the other will reduce it. If you will slaughter or loot neutral, inoffensive peasants instead of helping them (which is what you should do...), your corruption level will increase. The more corrupted you are, the more powerful you will get. I sure hope you will make the right choice :-D Corruption level affects the way people will treat you and your looks will change accordingly as well. You will also get a different ending according to how corrupted you were in your journey. Sadly, the game's awkward controls and camera (won't stay where you want) will occasionally force your hand, as sweeping minions just before one of these decision points will occasionally slaughter villagers instantly, rather than allowing you to choose ;)

The other noticeable drawback was the frame rate on my Athlon 3500+, 2GB RAM, 6800GT rig. I'm not sure how Overlord works on the Xbox 360, but it was quite slow on my PC, even on 'medium' settings. Oh well, time to upgrade...

Overlord is mainly a single-player game, but it also has an online multiplayer component, which is comprised of a versus mode and a co-op survival type element. Versus mode lets you fight against another overlord and see who gathers more gold. Gold is acquired by retrieving items to your tower, looting and killing creatures. Co-op is quite self-explanatory. You play together with a friendly overlord and try to survive as long as you can against your enemies. Unsurprisingly, compared to the single player game these online features feel light and a bit unsatisfying. However, if you absolutely must have more Overlord after exhausting the single player game, these will do the trick well.

Despite the horrible camera, lack of a map, insane amount of backtracking and clunky minion controls, Overlord is a great, innovative and fun game and I hope there's a sequel. Overlord costs around $40 at most retail stores.With it being $20 cheaper then Xbox 360 version with the exact same content and storyline, this is definitely a good buy.

related links: demo, patch v1.1, hints, trainer +2, trainer +2 (v1.01b), trainer +5, trainer +7, Halfling Massacre Gameplay video, Video #2, Overlord DVD PC, Xbox 360 video-review

System requirements:
Minimum: Pentium 2.4 GHz or Athlon XP 2400+ , 512MB RAM , GeForce FX5900 / Radeon 9500 or above*, DirectX 9 Compatible Sound Card, 4.5GB free HDD space, 2x DVD-ROM Drive / TCP/IP mode (2 player) requirements: 512Kbps Broadband Internet connection required

Recommended: Intel Core 2 Duo or Athlon 64 X2, 1GB RAM , GeForce 7800 or Radeon X1800, Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Sound Card, 4.5GB free HDD space, 2x DVD-ROM Drive / TCP/IP mode (2 player) requirements: 512Kbps Broadband Internet connection required

*Supported Graphics Cards: ATi Radeon 9500, 9600, 9700, 9800, X300, X600, X700, X800, X1300, X1600, X1800, X1900, X1950 || nVidia GeForce FX5900, FX5950, 6600, 6800, 7100, 7300, 7600, 7800, 7900, 7950, 8800; not compatible with all integrated sound/graphics solutions (inc. Laptops).

Ed.Note: You can change the default keys by running the Overlord configuration tool: 1)Run Start Menu -> Programs -> Codemasters -> Overlord -> Config 2) Select the Controls tab 3)Select "Mouse & Keyboard", 4)Change the key / mouse settings using the lists next to each action, 6)- Click "Save & Play"


snd: 5/5 - superb voice acting with some great humor, soundtrack and sound effects fit perfectly
gfx: 4/5 - well textured with good looking landscapes and characters, clumsy camera (won't stay where you want)
playability: 4/5 - innovative, solid main campaign (~15-25 hours), humor, minions are pure fun, large variety of monsters, lack of a map, game's controls take some time getting used to + some control issues, shallow multiplayer, lots bugs
genre: 3rd-person action/adventure/RPG
platform: PC (also available on Xbox 360)
release: June 2007
developer: Triumph Studios
the game is similar to: Dungeon Keeper, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Armed & Dangerous, Fable
publisher: Codemasters
Very_good
Overall: 80%


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