So, as part of a new (quasi) series to hopefully get me back into blogging, I’m going to start writing reviews for the games I receive from GameFly as I finish playing them. I’ll offer my thoughts on the title as a whole, as well as whether or not I deem them appropriate to people’s time.
Some of these titles may be a bit older since GameFly doesn’t always ensure I get the newer game I’m in the mood for, but most of the older titles are now cheaper, so they may still be good deals for anyone who hasn’t picked them up yet.
I hope you all enjoy.
The first game I want to start this series off with is the second to last title I had rented, Overlord. As many people know it’s a 3rd person action-strategy hybrid for the 360 where you play as an evil emperor-type of dude who is awoken and needs to rebuild his mighty castle and throngs of minions. On the surface it’s a pretty original idea for a game until you play for a while and realize it’s a poorly-veiled Pikmin rip-off in a coat of decent fantasy paint.
Those were my runnin' shoes.
The story itself offers a pretty refreshing take on a variety of “classic” fantasy realms/characters/themes such as little Hobbit-like people (referred to simply as Halflings) who, often seen as fair and joyous folk in other tales, are turned on their head and deemed to be malicious little monsters within the game’s world. The game also boasts a variety of other fantasy staples such as elves, dwarves, zombies, and demons, all with their own unique flair to their presentation, but I can’t say you’ll likely see them all.
The game has a heavy focus on battles and puzzles, wherein you usually have your four varieties of minions act as a hit mob for you or travel through some sort of obstacle course made solely for one type (of which there is brown/attack, red/fire, green/poison, and blue/water). More often than not you simply direct a bunch to a switch, open a door, then walk through a hall and lay the smack down on some badass fantasy creatures… like dodo birds and rats (no lie). The minions are well animated and offer some laughs along the way, but their antics get old fast and the humor wears thin far too quickly.
The biggest problem with this style of gameplay is that the puzzles aren’t overtly difficult and there are not deep fighting mechanics built for the Overlord, so he just swings and lumbers around the screen like a poorly animated oaf. I was pleased to see you can upgrade your weapons and armor as you build your castle back up, but there wasn’t too much variety added to combat when changing weapons, which was disappointing. Magic added a shallow layer of complexity to the combat but the auto aim and lock-on was so poor it was hard to use most of them well enough to be effective.
Not bad detail on the armor there, Sauro... I mean Mr. Overlord, sir.
The graphics themselves were fairly pleasant. Colors varied from bright and crisp in the main hub town and Halfling realm to dark and moody in the Elven Forest. There was rarely any slowdown, but the other mechanical issues really brought down the package regardless, especially the controls...
The controls in the game are downright atrocious. The right stick has you directing your minions and can often help you lead them on relatively intricate paths, but the camera system (manually manipulated by holding the Left Bumper and then using the Right Stick) on its own is horrible and often gets stuck at awkward angles or behind objects. This wouldn’t be such a total problem if it weren’t for the fact the game required a patch upon booting it up (it’s a fairly old title), but the patch must have done nothing to the camera system! I remember this being a big complaint of the early reviews so to see a patch released that didn’t address one of the biggest concerns is a downright shame.
Sarah Palin can see Russia from here!
This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem had the game allowed for wide sweeping battles (alleviating most camera-getting-stuck issues) but more often than not I found myself crammed in tiny tunnels and maze-like corridors fighting the camera system more so than enemies the entire way. I gave up and shipped the game back after unlocking the ability to use the blue water minions (the fourth available) because traversing the cave they were found in was so frustrating I couldn’t take it anymore.
Overall Score: 6.0/10.0 – I can’t recommend this title unless you’re really hankering for a Pikmin-esque title for your 360 and/or you find it on the cheap (I’d say $15 or less would be acceptable for purchase) otherwise, DON’T EVEN BOTHER.
PS – As long as they fix the major control issues, the planned sequel will have serious potential.