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Overlord II is the sequel to Overlord, developed by The Overlord Series creator, Triumph Studios. "Epic battles, all new Minion play mechanics, stunningly detailed new visuals and a fresh theme — Overlord II's really packing a punch", says Lennart Sas, director and Overlord lead at Triumph Studios. "We are really excited about shifting the world to a new era where a Roman-inspired Empire rises as the arch-enemy of the Overlord, which leads to an epic clash between the regimented forces of a sprawling state and the faster, harder, more manic minion horde. It is also great to see the series reaching new formats. The creativity being packed into the design for Overlord Dark Legend on Wii and Overlord Minions on Nintendo DS make great use of the platforms' unique features and are perfect extensions to the Overlord series."
One of the key changes to the strategy adventure gameplay is that the choices are not simply about good or evil. After all, you are a cackling Overlord with a giant sword, fearsome armour and a horned helmet; the concept of good does not enter the equation. As Triumph's creative director Lennart Sas explains, the premise of the sequel is unfettered tyranny. Players now choose between shades of evil; do you choose the cold-hearted enslavement of domination, or down and dirty demonic destruction?
Whichever you choose ultimately has a bearing on how you play the game thanks to the spell system. "If you become a dominating tyrant, your spells will become better at subjecting the populations to your evil will", explains Sas. "Controlling a town of brainwashed slaves gives more benefits spread out over time, while destroying a town gives instant evil gratification: the souls of the slain population and looted treasure from their destroyed houses are for the taking."
The core gameplay remains rooted in the Pikmin-meets-Sacrifice action-strategy template of the original, however. Once again you control the Overlord in a typical third-person action-adventure fashion with the left stick, and sweep the evil minions around the screen with the right. For the majority of the time you do not have to get your hands dirty, but let the cackling Gremlin-escapees do your bidding — usually with amusingly demonic results.
Once again there are four types of colour-coded minions, Tribes. You can still rely on the same base abilities, so Browns are your best melee fighters, Reds are your best ranged weapon with their fireball-lobbing abilities and resistance to fire, Greens bestride toxic areas and sneak around, while the Blues are great healers who can cross water. Where it gets interesting is the minions' ability to mount other creatures, adding an extra layer of abilities.
So, Browns can now ride wolves and form a fast and vicious cavalry charge. Not only can they travel faster than before, but they can jump gaps, knock over opponents and cause greater damage with their ferocious bite. Reds, meanwhile, get to ride fire salamanders. Described as "living flamethrowers" they will be capable of shooting out concentrated fire blasts, as well as be able to "dig into gnome holes to chase out the little buggers" and snaffle their goodies. The spider-riding Greens will now be able to ascend walls and web-up enemies. Blues, however, miss out on the whole mount party. Sniff.
In addition to these new abilities, you can name your minions, and you will also be able to command a Minion Champion, who can lead groups of more than ten minions into battle. Taking a leaf out of Cannon Fodder's book, your minions now have an identity of sorts, so hopefully you will become more attached to them, and later in the game you will even come across a minion graveyard and be able to resurrect your cherished commanders.
You can disguise them too. Whereas surviving minions would don the armour and wield the weapons of fallen foes in the original, it was a visual gag. This time, going into battle in disguise has strategic benefits, allowing you to sneak undetected past key points. When we play the game, we first herd minions into a tent to don their new garb before leading them over to a guarded bridge. With our new shiny uniforms on, the guards allow the bridge to lower before being mercilessly butchered for their incompetence.
Without giving too much away, Sas has revealed that bosses will not only be more "epic" than previously, but be "closer tied into story; so the player has a bit more of a grudge against them."Elsewhere, other boss creatures will be "closer designed around the minion gameplay and the minions' mounts."We do not get to see any specific examples, but do get to see certain enemies in a controlled demo, including a giant one-eyed Yeti who romps around the snowy environments of Nordberg. Billed as defender of the cute baby seals (which you can bludgeon remorselessly, obviously), he boasts a rather effective snowball attack which, if on target, effectively blows your minions off their feet and disrupts your formation. Some of the other bosses revealed so far include a giant spider and an evil Emperor, who is the main antagonist of the game.
In keeping with the game's humorous tone, we can also expect to encounter Florian, the 'hippy' leader of the Elf Warriors who is an environmental activist annoyingly opposed to your destructive tendencies — but also rather irked by everyone else, it seems. But one group that fights firmly on the side of the Glorious Empire is the Eradicator agents, who basically suck the magic out of anything that strays into the path of their giant vacuum-like machinery. Gnomes, meanwhile, are fond of stealing and breaking things, and have no problem taking out their angst on the Overlord and his minions whenever they get the opportunity.
And all of this looks beautiful, thanks to an engine buff, and Triumph promises parity between Xbox 360 and PS3 versions thanks to performance analysers that help the tech team figure out choke points, with minor animation tweaks often the solution to frame-rate jitters. The PC version will of course scale up or down to fit your system. Also in amongst all the levers and pulleys behind the scenes is returning script-writer Rhianna Pratchett. "Rhianna was the only one that really 'got' what we wanted to do", Sas explains. "As a hardcore gamer and an ex-games journo, Rhianna is head and shoulders above some of the Hollywood writing talent that has been popping up in the games industry lately... Games writing works best when the writer works hand-in-hand with the game's designers; so the story is not written before or after the game is made, it is an integral part of the entire process."
Pratchett acknowledges this, and talks about how well it worked on the first game. "The gameplay, environments, missions, minion antics, voice acting and script all worked well together. I do not think humour works as well against really straight gameplay or bland environments — it has to permeate through multiple areas. It always felt that right from the off, everyone on the Overlord team was pulling in the right direction."Certainly, the net result in the refined PS3 version (which fixed the 360's problem of incidental dialogue repeating) was charming. The smartest decision was, and is, to make the minions the stars of the show.
This time, however, by ramping up abilities without over-complicating them, polishing the game engine and bringing the boss battles and narrative into closer alignment, Overlord II looks to build on that without bringing the Dark Tower tumbling down completely in search of a new hook. Hopefully the result will be the game Overlord could have been, and came so close to being. Make daddy proud, Triumph.
Overlord II has a wide variety of enemies to challenge the player:
Following the events of the first game, certain characters have either changed or become absent over the years, including the Overlord himself, who has since been ruling yet trapped in the hellish "Abyss" dimension. Instead, the role of the Overlord is taken up by his son, hinted at in the ending sequence of the expansion Overlord: Raising Hell, who not only looks near identical to his father but also remains silent throughout the course of the story. Initially however, the Overlord can be seen as a child who, while residing in a mountain village named Nordberg, has clear aspirations of power mimicking the role of his father, of which he takes out on the village with a small band of minions in the form of vandalism and scarring the local population. Unlike the previous Overlord, however, who could carry out somewhat good deeds, there is a clear sense of evil morals involving only either destruction or domination of all who oppose him.
One of the prominent returning characters is Gnarl, an aged yet wise minion who has acted as adviser to each Overlord who, with the rest of the minions, resided in the Netherworld following the passing of their previous Overlord. As an adviser and initial tutor, Gnarl engages in most of the game's dialogue involving narration, outlining objectives, dropping hints and even making jokes. Other notable minions include Giblet who once again takes up the role of Forge Master for the Overlord's armoury and a Jester named Quaver, who also sings songs of praise towards the Overlord.
Characters new to the the series include the Overlord's three mistresses; firstly Kelda, a strong willed Norbergian girl and only childhood friend to the Overlord, and at the time could see his potential power, secondly Juno, a seductive and spoiled Empire maiden and thirdly Queen Fay, leader of the Elves of Everlight who in fact at first is opposed to the Overlord before being willingly corrupted by his evil presence. The story's central antagonist is Emperor Solarius, ruler of the Glorious Empire whose initial motivations are world conquest and riding the lands of all magic, even involving the killing of certain races and people. While Solarius appears reclusive, he has a number of henchmen who govern the various conquered lands. His second in command in particular; Marius acts as his spokesperson, often engaging in more dialogue with the Overlord than any other foe, even outside of the Emperor's presence.
A generation has passed since the events of the third Overlord, with the previous trapped in the Infernal Abyss. The Dark Tower and the surrounding lands were decimated by "The Cataclysm" and a magical plague, forcing the survivors to flee to new lands, soon after the Overlord's disappearance. His now born child, the Overlad has since been abandoned in the snowy mountain town of Nordberg where all the villagers fear him as the "Witch-boy", where a small band of minions help him harass the locals, except for a small girl known as Kelda who warns them of his potential power. The town however comes under siege by the Glorious Empire, a Roman-styled military power, under Emperor Solarius, who opposes all forms of magic. To spare their town, the citizens of Nordberg throw the Overlad out, where he escapes to an icy lake outside where a boat with a Yeti causes him to fall into the lake and freeze. The minions take him back to the Netherworld where Gnarl, the minionmaster and the Overlord's top advisor for all eternity raises him into the new Overlord.
Upon becoming the new Overlord, he scouts the Nordberg countryside where a band of fanatical environmentalist elves lead by Florian Greenheart try and stop him from slaying baby seals and even take in the Yeti the Overlord is pursuing. Tracking them down to the local elf Sanctuary, he regains control of the red minions and quickly burns it down. Following this, the Overlord begins his world conquest, beginning with Nordberg, currently under Empire rule of Governor Borius. Upon conquering the town, crushing Borius under a statue and making a mistress of the now adult Kelda, the Overlord retakes a frozen ship from Nordhaven by burning the tar pits, and sets sail to the elven lands of Everlight. However since the glaciers were melted in order to open up the pass for sailing, the land is flooded despite the Empire still in conflict with the local elves. The Overlord leaves the Everlight Reef after placing several gate keys in the correct place. In the Everlight Jungle, the Overlord discovers that several giant spiders have infested the jungle, and comes across the Everlight Facility, a heavily guarded Empire building where Eradicator Agents have brought all the magical creatures gathered from Everlight. He infiltrates the facility and reclaims the Green Hive. Upon venturing deeper into the jungle, the Overlord finds the Spider Queen and defeats her and forthwith can use spiders as a mounts for his Greens. In the town itself, rich Empire Citizens are using the town as a holiday resort with a clamp down on magical beings, including the Green Minions and Juno, an Empire seductress who is accused by jealous overweight females. The Overlord regains the Greens, conquers Everlight, defeats the Everlight Governess and takes in Juno as his second mistress.
Juno tells the Overlord the sea routes to the Empire Harbour and the Overlord sets off on his ship. When the Overlord arrives, he finds out that a wall is blocking the way into the Empire Heartland. He disguises his minions as soldiers of the Empire and goes into an imperial fort and takes control of the catapult, smashing the gate and entering the Empire Heartland. Upon entry, the Overlord notices that the road is guarded by Sentinels, Empire agents who can detect and stun magical creatures. He possesses a minion and disguises them once again, coming across a gargantuan, a huge gladiator-like creature created in experiments by The Glorious Empire as revealed by a centurion. Using his minions, the Overlord destroys the Sentinel towers and gains entry to a villa belonging to Senator Drearius, who Juno knew when she lived back in Empire City. The Overlord defeats Drearius and his wife and steals their Sedan Chair to get into the city. However, while heading towards the city, they fall into the Empire Sewers, leading into the giant Empire Arena, previously mentioned throughout as to where most slaves and magical beings end up. The Overlord finds the last of the minions, the Blues but is apprehended by Marius, adviser to Emperor Solarius and put into the arena. The Overlord however wins every round of the games, passing the Empire Slave round, the unicorn round and defeats the Gargantuan Gladiator, even surviving the all-out round. He gets to the final where the Yeti is pitted against him but instead destroys the gates allowing the Overlord to bring down the spectator balcony, causing the Emperor and Marius to flee. Back at the Netherworld Tower, the Overlord is visited by a mysterious woman who Gnarl vaguely recognizes, who warns him of his own power guiding the Overlord to the Wastelands, a rocky landscape that was once the former site of the previous Overlord's tower before the Tower Heart exploded. In these lands, the Overlord encounters Queen Fay and Florian, who help him put the Tower Heart back together, seeing the Empire as a greater threat. After all the pieces are found, the Empire arrives, capturing Florian and forcing the Overlord to flee into the last elven sanctuary. In the Wasteland Sanctuary, he finds Queen Fay and the Tower Heart. However there is not enough power to restore it and the Empire besieges the sanctuary and the Overlord flees to the Wasteland Sanctuary Depths in order to drain power from the shrines to power the Tower Heart. He encounters the Salamander King and defeats him to gain salamanders as a mounts for his Reds. Even with the power of the shrines, the Tower Heart is not strong enough and so Queen Fay allows herself to be drained of power for the Tower Heart, leaving her in an evil state of mind and becomes the Overlord's third mistress.
With the Tower Heart restored, the Overlord enters the Empire Hills and uses catapults to defeat the waves of Empire troops. He breaks into the Empire fort placed near the city gate and lays siege to the Empire's capital by catapulting the Heart itself into the city's Anti-Magic Shieldand destroying all the defenders that march from the city. The Overlord is now confronted by Marius, who reveals that the Emperor's shrines are recollecting the energy of the Tower Heart and adding it to their collection. He leaves the Overlord with a pair of Gargantuans and flees back to the city.
The Overlord then lays waste to the Emperor's shrines to destroy the shield covering the Imperial Palace and is confronted once again by the mysterious woman who is revealed to be Rose, the previous 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 yet Solarius let the power go to his head. Upon storming the palace, Florian Greenheart appears but reveals that he himself is in fact Emperor Solarius. Years ago he had attempted to take the power of the Tower Heart, only to cause the Great Cataclysm and spawn a xenophobic fear of magic. Riding that wave of hatred, he created the Empire and gathered the magic of the world's inhabitants for his own use. Upon submerging himself in the collected magic he is transformed into a giant leech-like monster hailed as the Devourer by Marius who is eaten shortly after. The Overlord battles and destroys the Devourer and Solarius in the process. Following this victory, depending on the player's actions, 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 along with personal ambitions, finishing once again with "Evil always find a way."
The story of Overlord 2 has elements that conflict with the events that take place in Overlord. In fact, the story would seem to be a combination of both good and evil choices from Overlord, with the elves still thriving, Rose being the mother of the Fourth Overlord, and the Third Overlord being evil.
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