Overlord II: First Impressions

By Shamus
on Jul 21, 2009
Filed under:
Game Reviews

overlord2_1.jpg
Fair warning: My take on this game is very much the minority opinion. Yahtzee expressed an intense lack of affection for the thing in his review, and a lot of the comments I’m seeing on the game echo his thoughts. I liked it.

Crap. I was supposed to save that last bit for the end. Maybe I should have used a spoiler tag. Ah well. Just pretend like you don’t know how the series will turn out and I’ll make like I didn’t say anything.

The gameplay in Overlord II is much improved over the original, fixing my various gripes and polishing the established gameplay. The game is a much improved version of an established formula, so why don’t people dig it? I think the main problem here is that the designers did a poor job of introducing newcomers to the series. I’d point out how stupid this is, but I just did the same thing. Let me back up…

If you’re not familiar with the game and you’re too lazy to read my series on the original, then here is the short version, O impatient one:

You play as the Overlord, a towering guy who looks like Sauron and sounds exactly like the main character from GTA III. In the game you command groups of minions: amusingly mean little imps who will obey you without question. They come in four colors: Brown (damage absorbers) Red (ranged attackers) Green (damage dealers) and Blues (healers). Most of the game revolves around managing these groups to get the most out of them in combat. Sometimes you’ll be fighting waves of hapless wimps, sometimes you’ll be fighting organized forces, and sometimes you’ll be fighting a single large foe. Each one requires a different approach.

Your Overlord also has some melee prowess and a few magic spells, and you can generally improve the survivability of your forces if you don’t mind placing yourself in harm’s way. (But if you’re risking your own life to protect your underlings, then I have to wonder just what sort of Overlord you are. What is it about this whole “evil” thing that’s confusing you?)

The original game lacked any sort of map or compass, which led to players becoming frustrated by the occasionally labyrinthine areas. Now you get a nice in-game map. The original game had occasionally frustrating areas where you might see your forces wiped out several times and still have no idea what you’re doing wrong. In the new one the transition from “combat strategy mode” to “puzzle mode” is much cleaner, and it does a far better job of teaching you how gameplay elements work before expecting you to use them under pressure. The gameplay adds a bit of depth without adding too much complexity by introducing mounts for your minions to ride. The strategy gameplay is more interesting, the puzzles are more fun, your tower is cooler, the controls are better, the interface is better, and the changes to the story undercut the entire point I’m trying to make about this one being better. Still, this is one of those sequels that will ruin you for the original.

As an aside: The game has SecuROM:

overlord2_securom.jpg

To my knowledge this is the standard garden-variety of SecuROM that just… I don’t know… mildly inconveniences hackers? It’s not tied to online activation or phoning home or anything insidious. Still, it’s there and you should be aware of it. I wouldn’t have noticed it if not for the dialog that popped up when I tried to play without the CD.

overlord2_2.jpg
I was amazed at how gorgeous this game is. I was all set to talk about what a brilliant leap forward they took with the visuals before I realized I was comparing apples-to-oranges. I played the original Overlord on the Xbox 360, using (basically) standard television resolution, and I’m playing the PC version of Overlord II at 1900×1200. Not a very fair comparison. I imagine the game looks roughly the same as its predecessor. In either case the visuals are beautiful, whimsical, and twisted. Case in point: Morbidly obese mermaids.

This is a console port, but it’s a graceful one. I have a USB controller which is the functional equivalent of the current-gen console controllers, and I was able to set it up to behave exactly like the Xbox. It feels like I’m getting the best of both worlds: The clean controls of the console version and the higher resolution of the PC version. (I’m not actually all that into high resolution for the purposes of gameplay, but it does make it much easier to make comics.) Startup time is short. Load times are brief. I’ve plowed through the game twice and had one crash.

I’ll get into the gameplay in a later post. Try the demo if you’d like to play along at home.

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20201858 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. halka says:

    Crackers, damnit! :)

  2. Yonder says:

    I’ll definitely be picking this up after a price drop, I had a lot of fun with the first one, although I was hoping for deeper game play. I thought there would be more direct control and interaction with the lands you conquered. All in all it was quite fun though.

  3. Lazlo says:

    Wait, what? You mean to tell me there’s a game out there that Yahtzee didn’t heap fawning praise on? Shocked, Shocked I tell you I am….

    So yeah, liking a game that Yahtzee’s trashed means… that you’re a gamer.

  4. Jeremiah says:

    I guess I’m in the minority, too. I just rented the game this weekend and spent pretty much the entire weekend playing it, finally beating it last night. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had such pure fun playing a video game. It wasn’t incredibly difficult, so aside from a couple of annoying sequences I was able to just sit back and enjoy myself; not stress out over some particularly tough part of the game.

    I’m interested to see what sort of gripes you do have and how they match up with my impressions.

  5. JKjoker says:

    i thought this game was inferior to the first Overlord, the “jokes” are so bad they are horrible, the possession puzzles are awful and they keep getting worse though the game, i haven’t finished it yet but there is at least 1 “control your minions with the right stick” puzzles with impossible timing that will make you break your pad in frustration, and the main characters are a lot worse than in the first O1, annoying unskippable cutscenes to do anything in the castle, weapons are dumbed down, minions upgrades are irrelevant, they also pick up things less often and they are less cute than in O1, mistresses are still useless, they managed to make the Joker minion that gives you titles unfunny, and last but not least the SUPER grindy quests : kill 1000 of this, kill or subdue 100 of that, the game makes sure you will HATE doing the damn optional quests and you are forced to if you want to upgrade you “moral” bar.

    if they were to add a minimap to O1, O2 would have no redeeming features.

  6. Rosseloh says:

    I’ve only hit the point just after you get your first mistress, but so far it’s been even more fun than the first one. The siege-engine-control parts are interesting.
    I agree with Jeremiah on the difficulty…it’s just right. I don’t need to think too hard, and can relax…and I’ve seen no DIAS points yet.
    Still, great game, definitely worth my $40. And I don’t say that too often.

  7. bob says:

    I have to admit that I liked this game too.

    Regarding the DRM; I much prefer this form of DRM over for example:

    EA’s online activation
    Steams activation
    Stardocks activation and distribution limitations on patches

    Still I would prefer no DRM absolutely but with this I can a least play/update the game without an internet connection and am not relying on the company being around in the future (Although I obviously hope they will be as I enjoy their games)

  8. Jeremiah says:

    @Rosseloh: yeah, the siege engine parts were a lot of fun. Especially the last one.

    @JKJoker: I kind of wish there’d been more of the possession sequences. A couple of my favorite parts of the game were those. Without trying to spoil too much, the level when you possess one of your green minions was probably my favorite part of the whole game. And I liked the ones where you disguise your minions.

    Although I do agree about the optional quests. The town controlling ones weren’t so bad, because I got destroy lots of houses and such. But the gnomes, that was unnecessary. I just got near an infinite gnome spawning point and tied down my controller while I browsed the internet. The worst part, for me, was that doing those accomplished nothing, except earning an achievement. If I’d at least gotten a cool item or something, it might have felt worth it.

    (Also, I played the PS3 version for whatever differences there might be. It was the only copy they had in Blockbuster, or I probably would’ve got with the 360 one)

  9. LafinJack says:

    I played the first and second on the PC, with a jump from a three year old computer to a brand-freakin’ new computer in between. I was so surprised by the jump in graphics quality that I reinstalled the first one just to be sure the minimal settings I used hadn’t soured my expectations. No, they really ARE that stunning.

    I just finished II last night, and I wasn’t impressed with the story. Lots of welcome improvements over the first one, but a couple new annoyances (like minions not picking up items unless they run RIGHT over it, as JKjoker mentioned). Yahtzee was right about a couple things – the spider sequence (you’ll know it when you hit it) was INFURIATING, and there was really no need for loading screens between segments of your castle.

    He also compared it to Pikmin, which I’ve seen people mention before. I never played it, but what I did play was Dungeon Keeper. Both Overlords reminded me of a third person version of that more than anything.

    Oh, and while the Joker was definitely unfunny this time, I thought he was a riot the first time around. And when you target and hit your mistresses this time, they only slap you. In the first game they’d whallop you and knock you down, which was hilarious.

  10. MadTinkerer says:

    I hate to bring up the grim specter of DRM in such a nice review, but I’d like to bring up something that’s troubling me.

    A while ago I got Overlord (in a retail store) on sale for $10. Because: hey, overlord for $10! At the time, I felt a $20 discount was worth the hassle of having to put the disc in every time. HOWEVER:

    After months of looking around and trying to figure out how to get the PC version of the expansion pack, Raising Hell, I finally stumbled across it on Codemaster’s website a few days ago while looking for something else. It’s download-only (and not available on Steam for some reason, otherwise I probably would have bought Overlord again when/if it went on sale again and got the DLC there), and only $9 so I snapped it right up. And THEN they give me this helpful information:

    “Important : If you change the Hardware in your PC or want to install the game on another PC, you will need to renew your license with your Activation Key. This number is unique to you, do not give it out to anyone or you will not be able to reinstall your game.
    For copy protection reasons you are limited to 3. If you need more activations please contact our Customer Support team.”

    How lovely. How freaking lovely. I am so POed right now that I fell for this BS. Screw contacting Codemasters: If I run out of activations I am going to pirate the game+expansion and mod the files so that the Jester periodically proclaims me “Pirate of Overlord!”.

    Shamus, I loved the first game. It had Securom, but as near as I can tell it only required the disc and no limited activation BS. The DRM on the expansion has left me a bit bitter, though I’m managing to enjoy the actual content despite this. Please tell me OL2 doesn’t try to pull any DRM crap, because I am not putting up with it again. I’m probably going to get it on Steam if I can, but only if the main game and the expansion don’t pull any BS.

    I want to buy and like OL2, but I’m not going to do it if I have to jump through the same hoops the expansion pack makes me jump through.

    P.S. While some have complained about the mouse + keyboard controls, I thought it was fine. You probably don’t want to switch after getting used to the console controls, though.

  11. Teron says:

    Overlord 2 is awesome. Seems a bit shorter then the origional, but then again, I havent finished OL1. Damn succubi…. Anyway, the minion posession is awesome, if only for them singing the great escape. Actually, the minion singing is awesome anyway, try listneing to the title theme until they join in… The minion resurection is great, I’ve resurrected Gubbin twice. I only have two problems with it: 1.No dungeon, but I suppose that was taken out to prevent farming, and 2. Those damn villiagers. There is ONE left in Nordberg, and I cannot find him/her. I’m playing Domination, but I have half a mind just to kill them instead. 3. You CAnt upgrade weapons or armour with minions, which was something I quite liked in the first game, as you could change it to suit your style. Oh well, at least they added different things(e.g. elemental resistance)

    EDIT: OH, I forgot about the Throne. And the Poetry

  12. Sigh…

    Of course, I STILL can’t play an evil OVERLADY.

    Until they give me the option to play a FEMALE overlord, I’m not touching the damn thing.

    Leslee

    • Dawndream says:

      yes, i think as you.

      is another good game, that could be the best with 2 genders histories or way to play.

      and they take the easy way machistic and condemn females to play again and stupid male char.

      + 8 points to gameplay and grafics.
      – 8 points to forget female players that dislike see stupid male chars.

  13. hewhosaysfish says:

    Wow. This game promises you and chance to be evil… and you spend most of the demo clubbing baby seals.

    When I’ve got the money, I’m buying Overlord.

  14. chabuhi says:

    Can anyone tell me if it’s okay to trust SecuROM these days? I’m not talking about from a philosophical perspective, but from a I-don’t-want-to-brick-another-DVD-burner perspective.

    I got burned twice by SecuROM in the old days and foreswore any future games with SecuROM on-board. But, so many juicy titles still use it, and I hate to miss out, so I’m wondering if they’ve taken the poison fangs out of SecuROM since way-back-when.

  15. MadTinkerer says:

    Other than the limited activations for the expansion, I personally haven’t experienced any problems with SecuROM. But most of my games don’t use SecuROM anyway.

  16. Marmot says:

    I’ve encountered this kind of “mild” SecuROM several times and haven’t had any problems with it so far as it seemed like a good compromise. Yet a lot of traps lay when we think it’s the easy version and the company goes boom and suddenly slaps you in the face with “retroactive activation codes” or whatever.

  17. Daniel says:

    I posted this in another thread, but just wanted to reiterate.

    About the spider elevator sequence: There is an easy way to do it, not just trial and error (and luck). If you use the easier way, it should not take you more than a couple of tries. If not, be prepared to break your controller with frustration. (I was about to quit the game for good when I thought of the easy way)

  18. OddlucK says:

    Wait… There’s a demo? I can’t have read that right. Demos don’t exist any more outside the realm of indy publishers.

  19. Rutskarn says:

    Leslee: That is a bit of an odd omission–if it were a set character, like a Gordon Freeman or a Bionic Commando or what have you, that’d be one thing, but since you theoretically can dictate the actions and personality of your character it’d be nice to have options.

    Actually, you know, technically, I guess you could say your overlord *is* female. Maybe just doesn’t let on because she doesn’t think she’ll be taken seriously.

  20. JKjoker says:

    @Jeremiah: im surprised to find ppl that liked those scenes, the green possession “puzzle” in particular was the worst part of the game so far (im about to rescue the blues so something worse might still come) with the close second being the spider infuriating pressure plate, wall climbing frustration (luckily you can cheat and just leave a minion right over the worst of the plates before you start again and avoid pressing it)

    @Leslee Beldotti: i would play a Female evil role, but if you were to just gender bend the overlord you would fail horribly, she would need to be an evil scheming seductress, probably with more focus on spells than melee and instead of domination/destruction it would be domination-by-charming/domination-by-force

    @MadTinkerer: get a pad because you are going to break you mouse during the spider climbing puzzle

  21. Zel says:

    I liked Overlord 2, but not as much as the original. While the first one could be very frustrating, at least it had some variety so I wouldn’t get bored fighting the same bunch of soldiers for the nth time: the Glorious Empire is the only enemy of significance in the second game, and while they look a lot like in a comic I enjoy (Asterix), they’re just not that fun the 100th time you have to break their formation.

    I don’t remember the first game perfectly, but I also felt like there were a lot less puzzles in the latest one. I never had any trouble figuring out *what* to do, the biggest problems were coming from serious control issues (still far from perfect with a keyboard/mouse combo). The minimap is a nice addition but it can be confusing and takes away the whole exploration part the first one had.

    Some design choices were also quite odd: the spider puzzle, the awfully overpowered powder keg throwers, the sniper crossbowmen in a dungeon with only blues and the insistence on repetition: the domination/destruction of villages, the siege weapons, the useless possessions phases (which play exactly like the rest of the game, with a weaker avatar), the sidequests (kill 1000 gnomes ? right…), the endless grinding of colored life force and materials to fuel your forge all seem designed to make you waste time. They probably did that to lengthen an otherwise quite short game, but it didn’t make it very fun…

  22. Jeremiah says:

    I actually didn’t have much trouble with the spider elevator part. Only the third sequence gave me much trouble, but it still only took a few tries. It didn’t even dawn on me to try leaving my greens on top of certain plates to make it easier. It actually took me more tries to free the blues because I kept getting careless.

    What most irritated me about the spiders is they didn’t seem particularly useful outside of that level. At least the wolves stayed useful, and the salamanders were fun to use to roll circles around enemies lighting them on fire.

  23. Rutskarn says:

    JKjoker: Why would you need to make the villain a cliche seductress? What’s to stop it from just being a big-bad-axe-swinging undead freak who happens to have an extra “X” chromosome?

    I mean, frankly, if your *only* choice as a female overlord was being a slinky seducer, that’d be more sexist than omitting the female gender altogether.

  24. JKjoker says:

    @Rutskarn: no, big-bad-axe-swinging undead freak is the male cliche, get it ? they are both cliches, they are supposed to be cliches

    also i always hated the big breasted action girl characters but that might be just me

  25. 1: loved O2
    2: Steam > secureROM, I’ve put a lot of stock in valve, ever since HL they’ve owned my gaming heart, I lost my HL disk years ago, but can still download and play it on a whim
    3: My pc is set up in my living room (I use remote desktop and a laptop for work) so that I am less distracted by gaming during work hours, so games with good gamepad control are much more fun than sitting 2 ft from the tv with a mouse and keyboard.

  26. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This is one of the few times that I dont agree with mister Croshaw.I didnt like the premise for the first overlord the first time Ive heard about it,because it sounded like dungeon keeper,but where you are secretly a good guy.Once Ive played it,however,it turned out to be fun.And the second part is just as fun.I mean,how can you not love those nasty little gremlins anyway?

    Oh,and the graphics is improved slightly.

  27. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A question for the people saying that “this puzzle and that” were frustrating:Did you beat the final big bad in raising hell?I want to know because that was the hardest part of the first game Ive encountered,so Id like to know if therell be any more decent chalanges like that in the second one to look forward to.

  28. ima420r says:

    I’ll have to give the game another shot when the price drops. I rented it and played it for a few days but found it boring and not very fun. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it, I dunno, cause I liked the first one a lot.

  29. Rutskarn says:

    JKjoker: I don’t see it that way–the Overlord stereotypes don’t particularly have to be tied to gender.

  30. MuonDecay says:

    Unfortunately, the bug from the first game where mouse click commands will get stuck and force you to furiously click and wrestle with your mouse for a few moments to regain control is back in Overlord II. Not only that, but it’s actually gotten worse. You’d think a problem like that would command a fix.

    And Leslee, while I can appreciate the desire for the option… you can hardly fault game makers for creating a very specific main character, and sticking with them, especially when giving the option would require that much more work from the artists and modelers for a purely cosmetic effect that wouldn’t really make the game significantly different.

  31. @MuonDecay:

    So why is the default character automatically male?

    (This is the exact same argument I had regarding the avatars in TeamFortress 2.)

    Do game developers live by the rule, “When in Doubt, Make it Male”?

    Because that’s what it feels like to me.

    Leslee

  32. Rutskarn says:

    Well, with TF2, the overwhelming majority of military archetypes are male–which, given that Valve was certain they’d later be able to implement female models, probably swung the otherwise entirely arbitrary to make the first set of models male.

  33. Oliver says:

    @Leslee:

    Perhaps there is no female option as the word Overlady doesn’t exist? The game is called Overlord based on the male title Lord after all…

    I suppose if the game was named Overlords I’d more anticipate a female option; admittedly that’d also make me think there’d be more than 1 Overperson in the gameplay itself at any one time. Regardless, intuitively the name of the game is suggestive that it’ll be a male lead.

    Though we are strolling quite pleasantly away from the main topic of gameplay impressions and SecuROM.

  34. Maldeus says:

    Can you see a male build beneath that giant suit of armor? No? Of course not. Because it’s a giant suit of armor. Who knows what’s inside it. The mistresses do suggest it’s either a guy or a lesbian, however.

  35. Rutskarn says:

    Maldeus: Like I said, it could just mean that she believes male overlords are more respected by their underlings, so she disguises herself.

  36. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Leslee Beldotti

    You cannot really blame the developers for having males as their default for a game that involves fighting.In the real world,majority of soldiers were and are male.Thus when you say warrior,first thing that pops into mind is a guy.

    Of course,a fantasy world doesnt necessarily have to have the same customs as the real world,but it is hard to make up a complete world.In order to make a game,you need to focus on some issues,and fill in the rest with some defaults.Otherwise,you might end up with biting more than you can chew.

    And what was said about cliches is true as well.One of the charms of overlord are its cliches of an evil male overlord.If theyve introduced a female pc as well,those cliches wouldnt work so well.

    So either youd have a lousier gameplay,or worse voice acting(which was great in 1,and I like it so far in 2),or less jokes,or shorter story.*

    Or youd end up with one gender being cliched and the other either empty or realistic,and both outcomes are worse than one gender being nonexistant.

    Besides,all games have some restrictions.Why is mario a plumber and not a baker,for example.Or why are you the son of a god in baldurs gate.Or why cant you speak in doom.The most important thing in a game is that it is fun,and not how it achieves it.

    *You have to relocate resources from somewhere,and lets face it,graphics is the last place that developers want to remove resources from.

  37. LintMan says:

    The first mistress keeps calling you “witchboy”, so your gender is fairly clear.

    Even though it’s not that deep of a story, they do tout it being written by Rhianna Pratchett and I think that with the mistresses and the “witchboy” name she had a definite (male) character in mind for the player. They probably could have had her write a story where the overlord’s gender didn’t matter, but it probably would have resulted in a more generic, nondescript story.

    I think in general, if a game doesn’t offer the player a gender choice, they standardize on male largely because there’s simply a lot more male game players.

  38. Brian says:

    I was liking O2 a lot, and then I got stuck at the Spider Queen fight. And then I looked at GameFAQs and found out that I was using the right tactics, but my minions were doing so little damage that I had barely chipped away a quarter of her health in a half hour. This annoyed me greatly.

  39. Ell Jay says:

    The demo completely and utterly failed to grab me. Awkward camera, awkward controls, no health bars on monsters? Voicework that annoys you after 5 minutes of demo? Ugh. Just ugh. It bears mentions again that the camera and controls are clunky.

  40. JKjoker says:

    @Ell Jay: enemies have a health bar in the form of the circle that appears over their head when you are holding the target button

    the camera and the controls are the same as O1, but i think they disagree with the “improved” graphics, there is just too much crap around you now and both the camera and the AI pathing get confused

  41. @Daemian Lucifer wrote:

    In the real world, majority of soldiers were and are male.

    I guess that just blows my 4 years of military service (I’m a Desert Storm Veteran) right out of the water, eh?

    Ok. Sorry. I don’t mean to get so far off topic. It’s just that this subject really puts a bee in my gamer’s bonnet.

    Leslee

  42. Maldeus says:

    When stacked up against millions if not billions of years worth of collective military service from all the men in the world, yes, Leslee, your tour of duty, while admirable in its own right, has rather thoroughly been blown out of the water.

    What the game needs, though, is more plot emphasis on the ENEMY. Make the enemy someone you actually want to defeat, not someone who’s just there and thus must be got rid of.

  43. acronix says:

    What I disliked about this game was how the overlord was designed, starting with his exagerated wide shoulders (I guess it´s to emphatize his monstruosity) and ending in his gestures. I prefer the ways of the first overlord: raising his hand, barely pointing at the target with the whole hand; raising his arm up and keeping it at head level to tell the minions to reagrupate VS raising his hand and pointing with his finger at the target in some sort of “I told you to attack THAT!”; doing a gesture with his arm to call the minions back like saying “Get over here, you fools!”. I guess this new gesture-thing makes it look more evil and brutal, but I personally found the first overlord more charismatic due to his “majestic-ness” and lack of personality (which is weird).

  44. Veloxyll says:

    @Maldeus: I think it needed more plot emphasis on the characters in general. When you compare the Mistresses with the Mistresses from Overlord 1, the Overlord 2 ones are a lot less interesting as characters, possibly in part because the choice is superficial and meaningless; just like the way our character is supposed to treat interacting with our mistresses actually.

    Also re: gameplay benefits that Yahtzee mentions lacking for 90% of the game – why couldn’t we have gotten the benefit choosing a mistress for the end level gives for the whole game?

    1000 gnome deaths is absurd however. 100 or 200 would’ve been plenty enough (my final kill count was ~150)

    Whoever designed the spider puzzle (the wall climb, not the boss fight) is a horrible, horrible person however. Though the boss fight wasn’t particularly good either.
    This was more controler hard than actual gameplay hard though, and overall the difficulty could’ve been a bit higher, while it’s fun and all to have a “use left mouse button” I-win button, actually having to regularly send one flavour of minions at a time against foes would’ve been nice.

    My computer didn’t draw the textures quite right, so everyone was stripey :( and the trees were hillariously pixelated.

    As for item crafting, I much prefered the OL2 system to the OL1 system. It’s far more interesting to ask: what do I want from a suit of armour, instead of going – This armour is more gooder so I’ll upgrade. Damage ranges on the weapons wouldn’t have hurt though.

    Overall though, I’d say it wasn’t a bad game, but it wasn’t as good as the first game.

  45. Document says:

    Shamus: this is offtopic, but the phrase “web-surfing with no memory of how I even started” made me wonder – do you use Leechblock?

  46. Veloxyll says:

    oh, I forgot to add, the screen blur when you turn your character fast – guaranteed to give you motion sickness if you get that from games. And I could not find ANYWHERE to turn it off >: (

    edit: on PC

  47. grasskit says:

    @Veloxyll

    You can turn it off by launching config.exe in your overlord2 folder. Under video tab, choose custom detail, and uncheck motion blur.

  48. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Leslee Beldotti

    Thats why Ive said most,not all.You are comparing something thats happening for cca 50 years in just a few countries to something thats been happening for 5000 years in all the countries.

  49. Cuthalion says:

    @Leslee

    Well, there’s always Samus.

    But realistically, games tend to default to male probably due to a larger male audience and a historical precedent of male warriors. Some games certainly change it up though. It’s also more difficult to write an interesting story and make art assets where gender doesn’t matter, so there’s pressure to pick one or the other. I can understand how you wouldn’t be happy with the current crop of female leads. (Tomb Raider, Metroid, X-Blades…) They’re even more cliched than the males.

  50. Conlaen says:

    I just finished Overlord II 2 days ago and I have to say I liked it a lot too. But then, I also liked the first one. Indeed this one has some nice improvements.

    I had a lot less incidents where my entire minion army would be gobbled up for some stupid reason. If I recall correctly, minons would blindly follow you into water in the first one, now they willstand on the side. And also they used to die at almost just the touch of water, where they now will make a little drowning animation, clamber out of the water coughing and eventually get back up (unless you send them back in again or just force them to go in). Same with fire and acid. No insta death of the minions, but th game will make it clear to you that the minions do not like that environment.

    My biggest gripe with the new game was that it seemed to forget it’s own autosave a lot, or it would put you in the wrong position after coming back from your tower. There have been quite a lot of occasions where I retreated to my tower after I would see my game had been saved, to then find out on my return that I would be brought back to a different location then where I was (ie. a different portal in the same area). Sometimes this would be a small annoyance. Like if the game would put me and my now dismounted minions at a place where no mounts were present, but the next puzzle would require my minions to be mounted (especially with the spider mounts this was a pain). This would mean I had to backtrack quite a bit to find some new mounts again. And there were also some occasions where the game would put me in a location that I had preciously visitted, but from where I could no longer continue because, due to the linearity of the game, this part was now walled off or the elevator had already left. Easily solved by going back to the portal and selecting a different location, but then would it have been too much trouble for the game to allow me to access the right location from my tower right away?

    Other then that, I loved the game. I know Yathzee ranted about the linearity of th egame, but that doesn’t bother me at all. In fact it bothers me a bit that a game being linear is suddenly a bad thing. Just because there is so many sandbox games out there, does that mean that it’s bad to walk the player through a set story?

  51. Anaphyis says:

    Yeah, 5000 years of cultural dogma justifies anything. Like slavery! Good thing we haven’t abolished that, right? Right?

    Seriously. If this game would be a more or less accurate depiction of history, this argument would have some merit. And if it would be some kind of fleshed out character in a story like Geralt in The Witcher, it would actually make sense. But it isn’t. This isn’t history or even the real world. It’s fantasy as far away from reality as you can get and you have a mute, faceless protagonist. The story wouldn’t have changed an inch by changing the gender.

    So what is this really about? If you could get slaves in Sims 3, EA’s headquarter would burn and rightfully so. But sexism and gender stereotypes are OK for no adequate reason other then “only men can be merciless conquerors because they are BORN WAAAAAAARRRIORS AND HAVE ALWAYS BEEN! And it’s called OverLORD not OverPERSON.” Seriously? That’s your brilliant reasoning?

    Codemasters were lazy, that is all. Another model and some new sound bites? Are you crazy? They figured men are the larger percentage of the gaming community and women are used to suck it up when it comes to game protagonists anyway And perhaps this is for the better. The female Overlord would probably end up in the typical Stripperific fashion with massive cleavage instead of bad ass armor.

    The bad thing about this isn’t actually the implied sexism but the usual egg and hen problem. Games are designed for a single gender to the point where another option is even ignored if it would be feasible and unproblematic like in this game. Games are made for men because most gamers are male because most games are designed for men… Hell, I’m used to this blatant stupidity among gamers to keep new people out (“Oh god, my grandparents are playing video games! You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”) but even the developers are doing their best to alienate the majority of the worlds population as potential customers, that’s just sad.

    • Shamus says:

      Anaphyis: I boo you for your strawman on slavery. Twice.

      I agree that the game should feature a female option. You’re right: Developers will bitch and moan about how “girls don’t play games”, and never stop to consider that maybe they just don’t want to play boys all the damn time. Leslee is proof enough of that.

      I wouldn’t call it “lazy”, though. It’s an expense, and a serious one. What would be done with the mistresses if the player is female? They would require three new (male) models and three new voice actors. Most of Gnarl’s dialog (he constantly calls you “Lord” and “Sire”) would need alternate versions. A lot of characters call you “witch-boy”, and all of that would need alternate versions.

      And the Overlord model is obviously one of the most time-intensive in the game. It’s the one thing you see really close up a number of times, and there are a lot of varying helmets and armors the player can gather. So the overlord isn’t just one model, he’s a dozen or so, all with high polygon budget and animated clothing. (Like the waving fabric parts of his outfit.)

      Making an Overlady would require a major investment of resources. I think it’s one they should have made, but it is non-trivial.

  52. Rutskarn says:

    Anaphysis: The slavery point doesn’t make any sense. There is slavery in this game–you actually physically enslave people. There’s slavery in a lot of games, like Morrowind or Fallout, specifically because it’s part of the setting.

    Not that this point justifies excluding a female option. It doesn’t do so because the issue of slavery is entirely irrelevant to the debate at hand.

  53. MuonDecay says:

    Why did they default to a male character?

    That’s a good question, and I hope I have a good answer. Foremost, developers do still tend to target male audiences. I have no valid arguments for or against how right or wrong that decision is, but it’s what they do. Overlord and Overlord II could fairly be described as having an escapist power-trip element in them.

    Now, when you take a game with that variety of appeal and want to make it appeal to your male target-audience, you make the main character male. I would be one of the first to agree that perhaps there are several old ideas at play in the process here that need to be changed, but for people acting on these ideas it really is all a matter of trying to produce effective escapism.

    Coincidentally or otherwise, a number of the games I’ve played with female lead characters haven’t been canned escapist fantasies. I’m inclined to think this is because those varieties of games are more willing to give up the “male power fantasy” trope that is so well ingrained in gaming.

    I think it helps to look at mainstream games through the same lens as formulaic pulp novels. To an extent, most of them are using certain time-proven tricks to generate appeal in their story and characters to a very specific audience. It’s a lot easier to create a game, characters, and story that target to male-specific stereotypes than it is to make one that targets a broader audience.

    Targeting broader audiences is something that industry-style entertainment houses struggle miserably with, too. They don’t have their old standby methods to lean on anymore and wind up thrashing around and humiliating themselves… as you can see when a major movie house tries to make an action movie, and cram in some romantic and comedy appeal in edgewise to draw in a few more viewers. The same can be seen in several awkward attempts at cross-genre games.

    The computer gaming industry has, for a long time, devoted a fair amount of its focus to making toys for boys and perhaps they’re just struggling to get out of the old marketing tricks and cheap escapist-appeal shortcuts that this tradition has created.

  54. JKjoker says:

    @Conlaen: funny you mention the drowning, i had more drowning incidents in O2 than O1, they do stay alive longer than in O1 but i feel they get lost a lot more often

    the game WILL send you to the lastest “check point” in the map if you choose the QUEST and not just the location (you can change between locations and quests when you touch a check point), i do agree the locations names are confusing and that the last one should be highlighted

    completely agree with the autosaves, they are too long apart, O1 was much better in this aspect

  55. Anaphyis says:

    Of course there is slavery in the game. The Overlord is evil and so are his enemies. It serves to underline their evilness, not to promote slavery. The same goes for fantasy settings in general – I cannot remember a setting with slavery where the society in question was not intended to be viewed as evil or at least morally ambiguous.

    My point is: Just because something was en vogue for thousands of years doesn’t mean we should do it today “just because”, especially since we now know better. Yes, it’s much inertia to overcome but this inertia shouldn’t be an a reason – and especially not a justification – to not even try it.

  56. kevin says:

    People try to understand that piracy can’t be stopped. WE ALL IN SOME WAY LOVE IT. EVEN IF WE’RE NOT SUPPORTED IT IN PUBLIC WE ALL IN SOME WAY OR ANOTHER USE IT. GROUP OF HACKERS AND CRACKERS AROUND THE WORLD LIKE SKIDROW, POSTMORTEM, EXTALIA, AND SO MANY OTHERS HAD MY RESPECT AND LOVE. YOU WILL NEVER STOP THEM SO LIVE WITH IT.

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