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Overlord: Dark Legend Review

Do bad guys really have all the fun?

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being absolute, world-destroying evil and one being sticking chewing gum under a bus seat, wrecking your sister's room - as happens at the start of this game - hovers at around a 1.5. In Overlord terms, that's really rather reserved, even if the act was conducted using an axe the size of your head.

Yet every great hero (or for this matter, villain) starts from humble beginnings to achieve greatness, and Overlord: Dark Legend takes its time to flesh out your path from avenging sibling to Destroyer of All. That entails setting the world to order before you start tearing it all down again. This part-action, part-RTS fantasy adventure keys into that childish joy where destruction is just as much fun as (and as much an integral part of) the painstaking construction of something beautiful.

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Not So Happily Ever After The titular overlord starts off as a princely whelp who inherits his late uncle's armour and the ability to control a legion of goblin-like creatures known as minions. As the player, you must control the two simultaneously, commanding the minions to attack enemies, fetch items, or pull levers as you clear the surrounding lands of troublesome Halflings, deep-voiced Tooth Fairies and even a slightly creepy Gingerbread Man.

It's a dark, humorous twist on traditional fairy tale creatures, channelling Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas rather than Dreamworks' Shrek. Yet it retains a humour that's quaintly and amusingly English, such as the section where you are charged with shepherding a familiar red-hooded girl through a wolf-filled forest to her grandmother's house.

That forest stroll underscores the problems that stop Overlord from mounting the Throne of Gaming Greatness. The control and camera systems force you to start uttering some phrases that you'd never find in a Lewis Carroll or Tolkien tome.

Those camera problems first. Lil' Hood turns out to be a flesh-eating Wolf Queen and draws you into one of the first (and annoying) boss encounters. The camera locks onto the beast as it charges around a circular cavern. Great, but there is no manual-unlock. Instead, you're required to hold the C button and pan the camera around manually with the Remote. With the camera hovering close to your back you're blindsided from dodging any attacks.

I Cannae Control Her M'Lord

As for the controls, let us first ask you this. Try and pat your head while rubbing your belly. A little bit tricky? That's what's required when controlling both the minions and overlord at the same time. You have to cycle through the different minion types with the D-pad, sweep the Remote while holding B to make them charge, and tap A to call them back.

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For much of the game it works okay, but it doesn't hold up when more complex commands are required. Creating a Minion Marker that'll send your chosen minions to a designated point is easy enough, but having to deselect the minions by highlighting the marker first, whilst you're avoiding enemy attacks, and trying to command another set of minions to launch a flank attack? It gets twitchy and irritating far too quickly.

Case in point is another boss encounter, requiring you to send a lone minion to pick up a rocket, direct it underneath a flying witch, then launch the projectile at the witch to knock her off her broomstick so you can duly whallop her good and proper. We haven't mentioned that she's throwing exploding cakes at you that you need to dodge. As you move, the camera tracks you, but doesn't pull back enough to keep your minion in view. To make matters worse, the witch is pirouetting in quick figure-of-eight motions. Although the on-screen instructions detail how to control a single minion and pick up the rocket, it hasn't told you how to launch the damn thing. A fight that should have been enjoyable dissolves into a 20 minute argument with Remote, with television, and anything or anyone else that comes into your line of vision.

It spoils what is for the most part an engaging and funny fantasy adventure. Boss encounters and large-scale combat are supposed to test your gameplaying skills. Not test how quickly you can grind your teeth down to stumps. Do the overlord and his gang all live happily ever after? You might not have the patience to find out...

Comments

21 comments so far...
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  1. shadow puppet09 Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 12:19

    this review is offensive 65% i know it has it faults about it but its better than any party mini bloody family involving gimmiky dance dance shake and waggle-fest 85% at least

  2. TheAPERSON Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 12:20

    Now, get Dean Scott on here and see what he thinks of this. He's going to be angry with you lot.

  3. Ratchet14 Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 12:26

    Im extremely dissapointed with this reveiw as i was expecting it to get a gold award- really dissapointing.

  4. Adam_Lloyd Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 12:31

    The review failed to mention the fact that the game has crippling frame rate issues at times, problems with voice overs, amongst other notable detractions. As it is, though, I believe it deserved at least 75%, for the pure scope of the game, and for being able to produce a game that still remains fun despite its faults.

  5. zapper01 Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 12:39

    YOU'RE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE CAMERA AGAIN??? you said mushroom men had a bad camera, and it was perfectly fine!! I don't see you complaining about super mario 64 ds for it's camera, and when i play that i find i spend half my time with a wall covering the whole screen. seriously, think about it.

  6. Rudie111 Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 13:18

    thats a shame, was looking forward to this. oh well at least you have saves me some ££$££

  7. Danikat Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 13:41

    I'm still going to give it a go. I've gotten used to bad camera angles after playing all those games that leave it entirely down to you so I doubt that'll bother me and it looks like too much fun to skip over something so minor.

  8. Mr Hat Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 15:22

    YOU'RE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE CAMERA AGAIN??? you said mushroom men had a bad camera, and it was perfectly fine!! I don't see you complaining about super mario 64 ds for it's camera, and when i play that i find i spend half my time with a wall covering the whole screen. seriously, think about it.


    so true

  9. N.A.T.O Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 16:17

    ONM, have you reviewed the finished retail game or some preview code?

    I was interested in this game.

  10. ChrisONM Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 17:28

    ONM, have you reviewed the finished retail game or some preview code?

    I was interested in this game.


    We never review based on preview code. It's always either the finished retail game or code that's been named as "review code" by the developer (in other words, no changes to be made to the final retail version).

  11. Dark_Dragon01 Friday 26th Jun 2009 at 20:46

    ONM, why must you give games I want so badly such bad scores?

  12. zelda freeeak Saturday 27th Jun 2009 at 10:02

    i thought this game looked pritty cool i mean minions....minions ive always wanted to boss minions around and be the bad guy why?....why?...WHY? :shock:
    am still going to buy tis cause of how cool it looks 8) woop woop

  13. shadow.x Saturday 27th Jun 2009 at 11:40

    it looks alright yanoe!!!! lol

  14. akatsukiworm Saturday 27th Jun 2009 at 13:00

    dont care what you say onm. i was gonna get this game since i saw the 1st preview. your review changes nothing. :twisted:

  15. Tommson Saturday 27th Jun 2009 at 14:21

    ONM, why must you give games I want so badly such bad scores?

    Saves you some dosh? ;)

  16. Jim Compton-Hall Sunday 28th Jun 2009 at 12:37

    i thought this game looked pritty cool i mean minions....minions ive always wanted to boss minions around and be the bad guy why?....why?...WHY? :shock:

    Then get Dungeon Keeper for PC. Class game.

  17. Dark_Dragon01 Monday 29th Jun 2009 at 00:38

    1) That's a reasonable reason.
    2) Don't let Fred see these comments, the appalling grammar will cause him to commit seppuku with a saucepan.

  18. Super_Sonic96 Monday 29th Jun 2009 at 05:30

    Well...wasn't expecting that :shock:

  19. mandisc Monday 29th Jun 2009 at 17:56

    this review is offensive 65% i know it has it faults about it but its better than any party mini bloody family involving gimmiky dance dance shake and waggle-fest 85% at least

    Well said. this review is a tad dissapointing. Personally I am enjoying this game and would give it 78%

  20. YoshiLimbo Friday 10th Jul 2009 at 22:09

    This game is suprisingly awesome. 85% from me.

  21. nintendo1423 Monday 14th Sep 2009 at 15:07

    i think it should go for a higher score as well at lest 90% :) :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

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