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Overlord Preview

publisher: Codemasters
developer: Triumph Studios
genre: Action Adventure

CPU 2.4 GHz, 512MB RAM, GeForce FX590/Radeon 9500
ESRB rating: T

release date: Jun 26, 07
» All About Overlord on ActionTrip

If there's one thing history taught us, it's that bad guys have all the fun. Okay, so the true villains, like dictators, do get banished, hanged or just publicly humiliated from time to time, but in most cases they reign and dominate the world and nobody can do squat about it. (I had a 'Dungeon Keeper' feeling all along about this game. Don't know if I'm right yet. - 2Lions) So, history points the very obvious lesson that being bad can get you riches, fame and as many women your tongue can handle. To cut a long story short, good is out and bad is in. For that very reason, Codemasters and Triumph Studios mean to tempt gamers with a touch of evil in their latest action-adventure, Overlord.

We all remember Triumph Studios for their turn-based strategy series, Age of Wonders - and subsequent sequels, Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard's Throne and Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic.

Throwing you deep into a more or less typical fantasy setting, Overlord places you under the skin of a powerful Overlord. Resurrected by minions, you take on the challenge of bringing balance to the world. The Overlord who reigned before you was destroyed by seven beings. Having defeated the Overlord, they all returned to their homelands as heroes. Despite their heroic efforts, these heroes eventually succumbed to corruption. The holy paladin, for example, got consumed by lust, while the gluttonous halfling hero transformed into a huge monster.

The game begins when you awaken in a ruined tower, resurrected by an old minion named Narl, who acts as your advisor in the game. Luckily for you, most powers and abilities of the ancient Overlord have been passed on to you. That's where Narl comes in. His initial counsels come as a few basic instructions on how to use these powers and make use of your minions.

What does your average Overlord do, anyway? Well, once he establishes his dark tower, he can head out to wreak havoc and spread terror across the land. What else?

Your first steps begin as you learn to use a horde of basic melee minions. As an Overlord, you teleport from the tower straight into a peaceful medieval setting and what better way to start your evil career than butchering a bunch of innocent sheep. This action awards you with a few morsels of life energy. The life energy serves its purpose, of course, namely enabling you to call upon additional creatures - in this case, the "browns."

In due course, players unlock as much as four unique types of minions to summon into action. These are divided into the so-called reds, browns, greens and blues, each possessing a set of unique skills. All groups of minions are able to handle themselves in battle, depending on how well you use them. As we've learned, you can exterminate sheep in order to summon browns, but they can also be called when you've drained the life force from hobbits or humans. Dispatching reds, on the other hand, is suitable for ranged combat, given their ability to hurl fireballs. They absorb fire as well. By the way, when summoning reds, blues, or greens, you are obliged to accumulate a specific type of life force - killing fiery insects is needed for reds, for instance. With progress, players can command as much as 50 active little buggers at a time.

Minions have their uses beyond heading off into battle on your behalf. The Dark Tower is the source of most of your power, but it wasn't maintained or upgraded since the days of the ancient Overlord, so you must rebuild it in order to increase your powers. Appreciatively, hordes of loyal minions lie at your disposal and may be tasked with erecting a new and more powerful Dark Tower. (Yep, my feeling was right. - 2Lions)

Other than that, your trustworthy subordinates may also be helpful when you encounter certain obstacles. Gathering a larger group of creatures is frequently the only way you can remove objects that get in the way. Then again, they are also capable of opening closed gates for ya and even tipping over particular objects to make a bridge.

This isn't the first time we've witnessed such gameplay elements. For one thing, it's a lot similar to Nintendo's Pikmin (at least when it comes to segments like puzzle-solving).

The designers also saw it fit to enrich the game's spirit and overall ambiance by incorporating humor into the prospect of dominating a bunch of lesser creatures and ordering them to carry out a range of malevolent tasks. Such an effort is obviously meant to make the player become attached to his army of obedient followers. So, most of the time when minions execute orders, they'll often have something funny to say about it.

Granted, this isn't the first time gamers will get to step into the shoes of an evil character, but there are a number of promising aspects involved here. At any rate, you can look forward to a 30-40 hour single-player experience, in addition to a multiplayer component, playable over Xbox Live for X360 owners. The developers revealed slaughter, pillage and co-op multiplayer modes, where two players can enter online matches and enjoy both competitive and cooperative play. As we understand it, the slaughter mode gives two Overlords a chance to stock up, explore the map and then meet somewhere in the middle for a final showdown. Playing the pillage mode denotes nabbing as much gold and valuables as you can and, of course, beating your opponent to it.

To recap, Overlord can be described as a rather promising fantasy-flavored action-adventure with some appealing RTS elements. It also steers clear from traditional goody-goody characters or having to go down the familiar road of moral choices. (Dungeon Fucking Keeper I say. - 2Lions) For once, the path is certain. You're evil, so it's okay to perform bad deeds.

The game is scheduled to arrive on June 26, 2007, for PC and X360.



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