When the first Overlord was released in 2007 it was regarded as quite the mixed bag. While it was well received many reviewers had issue with one part of the game or another. On one hand you had an interesting premise, that of actually playing the bad guy. However on the other hand there were a myriad of small but noticeable issues that really held the game back from being all it could be. The worst of these were no real camera control, Minion control that wasn't as good as it needed to be and a serious lack of evil.

Oh sure you could commit genocide of the elven race or senselessly destroy villages but you could also save a village from starvation. Now that doesn't sound like something an evil sociopathic Overlord might do. As a matter of fact for all of the original games promises of "being evil or really evil" it more turned out to be evil or good. Heck even the enemies were really just badder guys. While this may make sense in full context, both as part of the story and as a part of the satire of the game itself, it kind of defeated the purpose.

Well this and many other problems have been addressed with the release of Overlord II. Tighter Minion controls, a variety of added features, direct control over the camera and a whole new alignment system make for what should be a drastic improvement over the last title.

Take notice of the "should be" part of that statement. Many of these changes have been implemented in ways that just don't make the most sense.

In the previous Overlord game there was no efficient way to control the camera. All you could do was center your view or stand still and adjust your view which didn't help while in combat. This was fixed in the sequel but it's not a terribly good fix. You can now adjust the camera with the right analog stick which is good. But this is the same stick you use to control your minions which is bad. This can cause problems where you start to move your minions while trying to turn the camera and vice versa. Part of the problem is likely that all of the buttons on the controller are accounted for and there's just no space to do much more with it. This isn't a deal breaker, and this reviewer had little problem with it while playing, but some will find this cumbersome.

One of the most welcome changes was that of the revamped alignment system. In the previous game you were given fairly typical evil or mostly good choices. For the sequel you now work on a Domination or Destruction axis which is much more satisfying. Do you want to devastate towns and slaughter your foes on the road to destroying the land or will you enslave villages to your will as a dominator? These change how your magic spells work fairly drastically as well.

Unfortunately these are poorly implemented thanks to some poor decisions, mainly on the Domination path. It's very easy to fail to dominate a city thanks to accidentally killing a villager or two or even rebels killing themselves. It's frustrating and can force you to reload the game repeatedly or, in some situations, completely prevent you from going 100% down either path which stops you from getting trophies / achievements or just roleplaying the game how you like.

The story is pretty much what you could expect if you played the first game - a corrupt empire has taken over the land and you must take control for yourself. However where the first story took place in a very generic fantasy world populated by interesting characters with a good story this is the exact opposite. The world feels much livelier but most of the characters are bland with the story following suit. It's still an incredibly humorous game but some of it feels more than a bit forced and the story is nowhere near as original as it was in the last title. This is disappointing but not a total deal breaker.

Another part of the game that's really disappointing is that of the revamped checkpoint system. By revamped of course we mean utterly destroyed. In the first game you would get checkpoints on a regular basis that lets you go back to the tower, leave the area to get energy to summon Minions and, most importantly, save your game. In Overlord II these checkpoints are so rare that it's not uncommon for you to go thirty minutes of hard combat against overpowered enemies without a save. This forces replays of some hard areas where one wrong move spells death. It's an unnecessary and somewhat cheap feeling change that really detracts from the game.

They added some new things to the game, a few that work and a few that don't. The new sea battles, where you put your minions aboard a ship and row around fighting enemies, are absolutely no fun at all. Luckily the unique Minion system, where every Minion you summon has a unique name, easily noted power level and can be resurrected from the dead. This prevents you from having to constantly gather equipment to power up brand new Minions when one dies. Adding even more flavor to this is that if you kill specific enemies, or hunt around in certain areas, you can find special armor or weapons that will give them a unique appearance.

It does bear noting that the graphics for this title are much improved over the predecessor. All of the backgrounds look much more interesting, consisting of shaped architecture instead of a variety of flat disinteresting walls. This extends even to the Overlords tower itself which is a much more dynamic and interesting structure. All of the character models look fantastic as well although some of the lip synch really leaves a lot to be desired. Over all anyone who had any complaints about the last games appearance should be silenced by this title.

Unfortunately the same can't quite be said of the audio department. In the original game most of the voice acting was really bad. Gnarl and the Minions sounded good while the main characters were pretty passable but the peasants and enemies were just bad. However it was bad in a somewhat dopey, endearing sort of way. However Overlord 2 replaces all of this with generic British voices that sound like they're straight out of Fable 2. This makes the voice actors sound very repetitive if you've played the other game for any appreciable amount of time. It's not just that they have the same accent that does this, it literally sounds like they hired the same actors as they finished work on Fable.

One thing that wasn't fixed is the multiplayer which is still absolutely terrible. These modes either involve you competing against other player controlled Overlords, which are absolutely boring, or working with another Overlord cooperatively. The co-op levels, while fun, are also insanely hard and require you to micromanage your Minions to such an insane degree that most people will never play it. To make matters worse at least one of the stages uses the boats of all things meaning you can't escape this horrible sequence even in multiplayer.

You could do much worse than Overlord II especially if you're a fan of the last games effort. While this isn't a stellar title it's definitely a good solid title that showcases a development team still really trying to do something different which is always appreciated. So while it's not solid gold it's a good way to kill some time and get a few laughs.