E3 2009: Overlord II Preview - PETA Approved
Written Saturday, June 13, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Chances are that by now you’ll have checked out the Overlord II demo on the Xbox Live Marketplace, so a preview on what we saw at the show would seem pretty redundant, right? Wrong. We got to see an extended version of the demo at E3 and got the chance to ping a few interesting questions at Codemasters’ PR guru, Sam Cordier. I’ll keep it short; I’ll keep it sweet, but factual nevertheless.
Overlord II is of course the follow up to the hugely successful original that has managed to shift 2.5 million copies worldwide since its 2007 release. Overlord II is in fact a direct sequel to that title despite the demise of the original Overlord at the end of the first title. This time you’ll take control of his offspring, from childhood to adulthood, as he looks to dethrone the regimented Glorious Empire – Codemasters’ take on the Roman Empire, and cause a ton of destruction along the way. Despite the success of the original, Codemasters refused to rest on their laurels and looked to make some big changes, a lot from the fan feedback. Let’s run you through some of the major changes that’ you’ll see in the sequel:
Huge improvements in terms of minions:The minions have been totally revamped for Overlord II and it’s possibly one of the most improved areas. Not only can they mount animals now, like wolves and spiders dependent on the minion type, which make them stronger, but the AI has also been vastly improved so that rank up in file. During combat the brown (thugs, fighters) will head into battle first, the greens (stealth) will sneak around the outside, reds (fire) will throw fire balls from afar, and now the blue (healers) will hang back, only heading into the battle to help fallen minions when necessary. One of the big complaints from the original was the fact the blues always seemed to get caught in the battle fighting rather than doing what they should have been doing, which was healing. So they fixed that.
The whole minion system as well has been tweaked so that they are more personal to you and have more of a character. Now certain minions will dress up, put on masks, sing, drink (and vomit accordingly) and even pee in the snow. If one of your favourites dies in combat as well, you can also bring them back to life at the minion graveyard using your reaper minion. Then there are other quirky minion additions like, minion only missions where you possess one and perform a “minion impossible” mission, and of course the catapult bowling as well.
In by popular demandTwo of the most requested features for the sequel were the inclusion of an on-screen mini map and a controllable camera (criminal to not have in from the start if you ask us). Thankfully, fans can rejoice as both of those features find their way in to the sequel. You can take control of the title just like the original if you so wish, but now, if you want to move the camera, you can hold the left bumper and move the right analogue stick to look around accordingly. It’s amazing how much easier this makes things.
A PETA approved titleWe were kind of shocked when the seal bashing videos dropped the other month, actually questioning how they got away with it. When asked about PETA’s reaction to those videos, Cordier explained that they were fine with them. “PETA actually came back to us on that and because you’re evil and you’re an evil character doing evil things, what we’re actually saying that is killing seal cubs is actually evil, and that’s fine by them.” Makes perfect sense when you consider it in that light ... of course, being red blooded males, we failed to rationalise that point at the time.
Overlord II = Bigger and a hell of a lot more evil
The game’s bigger. Your castle and its rooms are bigger. The world is bigger. Plus, you can now have 3 mistresses and you don’t have to choose a specific one ... you can now have your cake and eat it. The game also features a tyranny system this time around as well because players complained that you weren’t that “evil” in the original. Now, when causing wanton destruction and heading into conquer villages and towns, you can choose to dominate or destruct. Dominate essentially means you’ll cast a spell over the town and they’ll subsequently become your puppets and followers, whilst destruct means ... you get the point.
Overlord II, like many of the sequels at the show, proved to me that developers do actually listen to feedback. The inclusion of the controllable camera and mini map are simple inclusions but two that generally improve the experience ten-fold. Focussing their resources on improving and expanding the minion aspect of the title seems to be right on the money as that always seemed to be big part of the fun of the original. Check back in a few weeks for our definitive review as we pick it apart from the bones ... just like the Overlord would.
Overlord II is available on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on June 23th in North America and June 26th in Europe.