Goblin Urine vs. Robot War: Overlord and Earth Defense Force

Dawn over San Diego: thousands of undesirables file into queue on hot bricks, the muzzy sun making the sweat pool in their fright wigs, ooze down their squinting faces and finally down the backs of their Tifa bodices, their Storm Trooper torso plates, their squishing, squeaking fursuits.  My earbuds are screwed in so tight that Captain Ahab’s bass line can’t get out of my skull, bouncing around between aural walls and tympanic tubes.  I drove all night to get here, gentlemen.  I haven’t slept, or eaten, or even quite recovered from the beating Niero gave me as “incentive” to attend this demented cult gathering.  I was safe in Northern California, do you understand?  I was safe.

But it’s the only way to do Comic-Con, really: hopped up on gas station Red Bull, half-dead from exhaustion, rapidly running out of battery power, and sopping slimy from the ambient geekdom.  Why is that man wearing a leather chestplate, jeans, and Tiva sandals at the same time?  Forget it, Jack.  It’s Comic-Con.  

Aside from the traditional offerings of frankencense and Pocky that all unregistered press must proffer to the Badgites to gain entrance, I brought only one thing: my newly-traded copy of Earth Defense Force, which I received in exchange for Overlord.  I had purchased the latter a few days before, with Tychodorsements echoing gleefully in my ears, and the stupid fun of the Live demo still making my innards, or perhaps innerds, tingle.  I’ve been looking forward to a literal or spiritual successor to Dungeon Keeper for years.  It would take some sort of idiot to make a demon-Pikmin, hobbit-crushing, peasant-bullying game boring.  Somewhere, at Codemasters HQ, is that idiot.  And so I jettisoned Overlord in favor of good old budget-title EDF, and haven’t looked back.  This is why you should, too.

Overlord is monotonous.  I haven’t seen such repetitive, unintuitive level design since looking for the Mrs. Fields kiosk at LAX.  EDF‘s levels are repetitive too, but you’re only in them for five minutes at a time, and you’re too busy shooting rockets at gigantic ants, and laughing like a mad thing, to ever worry about it.

Overlord has pretentious, offensively poor writing, voice-acting, and humor.  All of which have been highly touted because they’re the doing of Terry Pratchett’s daughter.  I’ve never read a biography on this Rhianna Pratchett, but I’m guessing she was raised by wolves.  Because nobody who grew up in a house with Terry Pratchett would think that urinating goblins was funny enough to make into a running joke.  Or even funny in the first place.

EDF‘s writing and voice acting are also offensively poor, but it’s Engrish-translation poor, and therefore perfect for the game’s oldschool Godzilla vibe.

Overlord‘s quests are ridiculously opaque.  Most objectives in the game are issued half-assedly, without any clues to their indication of where to go or what to do.  I don’t want my hand held, but the size and homogeny of Overlord‘s playable area makes aimless wandering both time-consuming, and intensely frustrating.  And aimless wandering is the only way to find anything.  It was at the point I realized I was scowling constantly (about the fourth dungeon) that I just removed it from the 360 entirely.

In EDF, your objective is clear and radiant: destroy the alien menace at all costs.  Get more guns.  Fight bigger and bigger enemies.  Have fun.

Eliza Gauger