I miss Dungeon Keeper. Bullfrog's swan song, Dungeon Keeper 2, was the darkly humorous exploits of one big, bad demon using his minions to strip the underground of its treasures, while making sure any pesky adventurers paid for their trespass with a hearty round of torture and death. It was full of bitter sarcasm and great gameplay, making it feel good to be so bad. It's still a sad thing that the developers were the ones given the axe before they could produce the promised add-on pack.
Why am I bringing it up this old PC game now? Because Triumph Studios have just produced its spiritual successor in the form of Overlord. You see, goblins have short attention spans. They get bored easily, and when some hero offed their old master, the only solution was to dig up another one. That soul of pure evil is you, clad in shining armor that would make Vader blush. Your great tower is in ruins and your forces scattered to the winds, so it's time to rebuild what's been lost, and make those goody-goodies pay for their reckless heroism. With a touch of the ultra violence.
Controls are surprisingly easy to get a hold of. A to swing your mighty axe, X to use a little magic, B to summon your minions back to you, left trigger to lock on enemies or interesting objects, and right trigger to launch those devious goblins into action, smashing pumpkins or halflings with the verve of an eight year old armed with a water balloon. Any booty found will be delivered right back to you, though swords, helmets, and other assorted rubbish the goblins will make use of themselves. You can also control them directly with the right stick when path-finding might be an issue. It's also pretty darn cool to have direct control of their mayhem in a pumpkin patch.
While the animation might seem a little stiff with all the running and the killing and the looting, overall the visuals are lush and lovely, with a twisted style that only adds to the dark humor, especially setting a field aflame to roast a few plump hobbits. The goblins themselves are twisted personalities, with overly large eyes, evil grins, and attitude that's halfway between a pitbull and a kamikaze pilot. The landscape is loaded with details in the trees and broken down fences, stone ruins, and grass swaying in the breeze, to the point it might be easy to get lost in the virtual countryside if not for the distinct paths that keep you focused on your dastardly bidding.
The demo recently posted on Xbox Live provides a short tutorial on the ins and outs of this evil action RTS, before sending you off to recover the heart of your ruined tower. A lot more than pumpkins can be crushed in the field by all too eager goblin hordes. They'll slaughter sheep, pulverize barrels, and even bring down a barn or two. All accompanied by the advice and sarcastic commentary of the chief goblin, keeper of these child-like minions. Overlord is just brimming with humor and pure fun, with the demo being just a small, short taste of the final product, which not only sports a lengthy single player campaign, but multiplayer options as well. Don't let this one get lost with the other summer releases. Give this unique game a try.
Be a villain for a day, and an overlord for a lifetime.
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