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Overlord II

Overlord II

Overlord II

Overlord II is a 2009 third-person action-adventure game and sequel to the 2007 video game Overlord, developed by Triumph Studios and published by Codemasters for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. All versions were released in North America on June 23, 2009, then later in Europe on June 26 and Australia on July 9, 2009, alongside two spin-offs; Overlord: Dark Legend and Overlord: Minions for the Wii and the Nintendo DS respectively.

Continuing the style of the series, the game is set in a fantasy realm where players take the role of the Overlord, a mysterious warrior whose goal is to destroy or conquer the land by commanding hordes of small creatures known as "Minions". The story directly follows the events of the first Overlord game, with the succeeding Overlord rising to power opposing a Roman-styled military power known as the "Glorious Empire". The story was written by Rhianna Pratchett and maintains a satirical tone and dark humor towards the fantasy setting and genre.

Overlord II Plot

A generation has passed since the events of the first Overlord, with that game's Overlord now the ruler of the Abyss after being trapped following the events of Raising Hell. The Tower Heart was broken shortly after the old Overlord's disappearance, causing a cataclysm, which destroyed much of the old land and started a magical plague. When the survivors fled to new lands, the Glorious Empire came into being and it began to take control of the new lands, while purging all magical creatures. The old Overlord's mistress Rose gives birth to his child, the "Overlad". Rose takes the child to the mountain village of Nordberg and leaves him to grow up there, where all of the villagers (except a girl named Kelda, the Overlad's only friend) fear him, referring to him as "Witch-Boy". The brown minions find him and help cause local havoc. When the Glorious Empire besieges Nordberg, the villagers offer him up to save the town. A yeti, having been freed by the Overlord during his escape, rushes over an ice-covered lake, causing the ice sheet to break, freezing both the Overlord and the yeti until the Minions take him to the Netherworld. The Overlad is raised by Gnarl and the minions as the new Overlord while the Glorious Empire expands its borders.

Emperor Solarius of the "Glorious Empire"

Upon coming of age and passing Gnarl's tests, the Overlord scouts the Nordberg countryside with the Brown Minions, encountering a band of fanatical environmentalist elves led by Florian Greenheart, who try to prevent him from slaying baby seals, and end up taking in the yeti. Tracking the elves to one of their many Sanctuaries, the Overlord recovers the Red Minions, and uses them to destroy the Sanctuary, earning the wrath of the elven Queen Fay. The actions of the Glorious Empire lead Gnarl to classify them as a serious threat, and the Overlord heads out to both conquer the world and destroy the Empire. This begins with the Overlord capturing Nordberg, taking a now adult Kelda as his first mistress, and choosing to either enslave or destroy the village, along with an Empire governor named Borius. After melting the glaciers to free up a sailing ship, the Overlord and his horde travel to the flooded Everlight Reef, so they may access the elven lands of Everlight.

On arriving, the Overlord finds that Everlight has already been captured by the Empire, with the town being used as a resort by Empire nobles. After finding the Green Minions in the jungle and recovering the Green Hive from a nearby Empire fort, the Overlord takes control of Everlight, taking Juno (a seductress accused of being a witch by other Empire women) as a second mistress, and either kills or enslaves the town's inhabitants. Juno tells the Overlord how to access the Empire's interior territories, but while attempting to sneak in as a local governor, the Overlord falls into the slums. While exploring the slums, the Overlord comes across the Arena, a large Colosseum-like structure where magical beings are killed in gladiator-based games. The Blue Minions are rediscovered in the prisons underneath the Arena, but, before he can escape, the Overlord is apprehended by Marius, advisor to Emperor Solarius and thrown into the Arena. The Overlord defeats the waves of opponents including the yeti from before, in the process destroying a portion of the arena. Although Solarius and Marius flee, the Blue Hive is recovered, and the player has the option of either capturing the yeti, or killing it. Back at the Netherworld tower, the Overlord is visited by a mysterious woman who Gnarl vaguely recognizes. The Overlord travels to the Wastelands (the site of the old Overlord's tower), and is tasked by Gnarl with finding the twelve shards of the Tower Heart. After encountering the elves' final Sanctuary, Queen Fay and Florian help the Overlord to reassemble the Tower Heart while Florian is captured by the Empire after leading the Overlord to the shards, and Fay regretfully allows the Overlord to drain four shrines to power up the Tower Heart. As this is not enough, the Overlord then drains Fay of her magical energy, corrupting her and taking her as his third mistress.

With the Tower Heart restored, the Overlord lays siege to the Empire’s capital by catapulting the Heart itself into the city’s anti-magic barrier. While laying waste to the city temples, the Overlord is confronted once again by the mysterious woman who is revealed to be Rose, the old Overlord’s mistress and current Overlord’s mother. She reveals that the Empire was to bring order to the land for balance between good and evil, but Solarius let the power go to his head. Upon storming the palace, Florian appears, but reveals that he is, in reality, Solarius. Because he was an elf, but of a non-magical variety, he attempted to harness the power of the abandoned Tower Heart, but instead caused the Cataclysm and inadvertently spawned the fear of magic. From this hatred, he created the Empire and gathered the magic of the world's inhabitants for his own use. The raw magical energy drained from the captured magical creatures was collected in a vat, which Solarius then dives into hoping to become a god; but instead becomes trapped inside a giant, leech-like monster, which is hailed as the Devourer by Marius. The Overlord battles and destroys both the Devourer and Solarius. Depending on the player’s actions during the game, one of three ending cutscenes plays: one for pure Domination, one for pure Destruction, and one for all other points on the scale. The Overlord either destroys the land or enslaves the populace, with the minions throwing huge parties. Either way, Gnarl reveals that even the Overlord’s power might wane, finishing once again with "Evil always finds a way" before laughing maniacally off screen.

Overlord II Gameplay

The core gameplay from the previous Overlord game remains intact in the sequel, with the player controlling the Overlord character in a third-person perspective who has command over hordes of small goblin-like creatures known as minions to travel the landscape and defeat various civilizations with the Roman-style "Glorious Empire" being the prime foe. Initially only the brown minions are available but eventually the Overlord will regain command of the others that are essential in overcoming obstacles that obstruct further progression of the story. With up to four kinds, each minion type is suited for different purposes such as browns for fighting and blues for healing fallen minions.

New features such as minions being able to ride wild animals are utilized to enhance their use by the player in combat.

While the Overlord himself can also fight in combat with various weapons and armor types that gradually become available and the ability to cast spells to either help minions or hinder opponents, the majority of tasks are performed by the minion hordes. While minions retain many abilities including using scattered items as weaponry and armor, carry large objects in a group, turning cranks and finding treasure, minions can now also operate siege weapons, ships/boats and other war machines and, once captured, can mount and ride wild animals to help in combat and overcome obstacles. The Overlord also has the ability to occasionally take direct control over the current strongest minion to lead the rest through the use of the "Possession Stone".

The Overlord and his minions reside in a dark tower in a dimension known as the "Netherworld", where the Overlord builds up his minion forces by harvesting life-force from fallen creatures that, when gathered, can be brought back into the real world as a minion by summoning them through Minion Gates scattered across the landscape and through the Overlord himself in the less common Netherworld Gates. Treasure accumulated over time can also be spent on upgrades for the tower, whether they’re upgrades for gameplay or just decorative, along with large contraptions and magical objects that the minions can be ordered to return to gates, thus the tower. The choice system returns once more in Overlord II, where at certain points during quests that can be taken providing two paths; the Destruction Overlord that focuses on destroying towns and killing all in his path and the Domination Overlord that rather focuses on enslaving defeated foes or neutral parties to worship and work for him. The choice themselves not only affect the story and interactive with NPCs, but can alter the look of the Overlord and allow certain powers to become available. Other choices such as choosing a mistress now allow the Overlord to have multiple mistresses and can (re)designate any to be the primary mistress at any time.

Besides the single-player campaign, players can play various multiplayer modes online and local, both competitive and cooperative. Competitive modes includes Dominate, where rival player Overlords attempt to capture sections of the map, and Pillage where they must capture large portions of treasure. Cooperative, on the other hand, sees player Overlords working together to either defend against a constant onslaught in Survival or attack powerful foes in Invasion.

Reception
Upon release, Overlord II received on average a positive reception with an average critic average indicated as "Generally Favorable" at Metacritic (although the PS3 version was just under the score requirement), with most reviewers praising the multiple improvements over its predecessor while keeping core gameplay intact. 1UP.com complimented the game’s premise, still kept enjoyable from the previous Overlord, that "commanding a legion of hilariously evil little critters to plunder and wreck everything in reach is the game's most basic appeal, and something that never really seems to get old." This linked in with the game’s humour, particularly the minion’s personality and charm, with GameSpy complimenting "the maniacal Gremlin-esque voices and actions of the minions, making them at once both intimidating and strangely endearing", with the added feature of naming and resurrecting certain minions that resulted in "a surprising attachment." X-Play echoed this view alone with utilizing the hordes as "addictive, because you really do feel as if you're controlling your own private Gremlin horde."

On its gameplay, Official Xbox Magazine called it a "unique blend of action and strategy", helped with the added improvements over the first, including an in game mini-map and expanded options such as upgrades and choices. Eurogamer called the controls "simple yet flexible", but did find issues with an apparent "slightly wayward camera system". However, IGN considered the camera issues "painful" for being linked to control over actions at the same time. Between versions, the PC version is noted for having improved camera control over its console counterparts, with the option of shifting the camera via computer mouse described by GameSpot as "extremely handy" as opposed to the fixed console analog control. The checkpoint system was not as well received, with GamePro describing it as "unforgiving" at times.

Game Informer felt a number of features, such as the multiplayer, were "tacked on"; this along with numerous technical issues led them to conclude that "Overlord II just feels like an unpolished retread of familiar ground." Graphically, Overlord II was noted for being a noticeable upgrade from the last game, despite additional complaints of glitches; Team Xbox summarizing that the graphics had "been improved, but there are still chunky spots". Game Trailers, noted that character animations during cutscenes were best described as "inert", but that the game was helped by "its dark sense of humor... coming out prominently in the game’s colourful voice acting". GameZone praised the soundtrack as "wonderfully cinematic and has that fantasy movie feel to it."


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