Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Overlord = Pikmin + EVIL GREMLINS

As Cuppycake pointed out, the PC demo of Codemasters' "Overlord" is available through Fileplanet, or if you have an Xbox 360 you can download it there as well. I sat down with it last night before bed, and I was definitely impressed, if not entirely floored to go pick it up on launch day.

The premise of Overlord is as the title of this post suggests: Pikmin meet Evil Gremlins with a dose of medieval flare and dark humor. Rest assured it's a killer combination. With visuals that harken back to Fable's art-style, and gameplay that in some points outdoes Miyamoto's Gamecube creation, it's hard to find anything not to like about Overlord.

The background story, which doesn't seem too necessary except for to give you purpose, is that you are brought back from the dead to become the "new" Overlord. Apparently, years ago 7 heroes took your predecessor out and have since become overzealous rulers themselves. It's your job to bring the hurting upon them and put fear back into the countryside. At least, that's what I've gathered in my brief time with the game combined with the info available on the net. It's no masterpiece in videogame story telling, but I don't think that's the intention. The focus is quite plainly on the humorous antics of your minions.

Like Pikmin, they serve to do all your bidding. Pillaging, looting, killing, whatever you want them to accomplish as long as you have enough of them to do the deed. What's also cool about the minion system is that they don't require very much micro-managing from what I've played. You send them towards something and they're generally going to know what to do, whether it's knock down a wall, push aside a rock, or kill the fat halflings that are in your way.

What's intriguing about the combat in Overlord, and something I'd like to play to learn more about, is that some creatures, hostile ones it seems, have dark life force, while others (like sheep) have light life force. The light kind seems capable of gaining you more minions like the seeds from Pikmin, while I'm not sure what the dark kind does, as I didn't get a chance to play through all of the demo last night. Another cool feature is that whatever your minions find while breaking and killing things, they're likely to pick it up and use it... even if it has no real use. An example being a pumpkin patch I ravaged. After the veggies were destroyed a number of my minions used the pieces of the pumpkins as helmets, making them seem like little brown-skinned gremlin trick-or-treaters.

In all, it's definitely a cool take on the Pikmin formula, and a game I'll be looking out for on the 360 when I get mine. I have a feeling it controls much better on that system than the PC. Something about the layout and mouse-look on the PC version just seemed awkward and loose.

Regardless, give the demo a try. It's worth a look for sure.

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