Overlord offered something a little different on its release in 2007. While it didn’t let you be quite as evil as a real evil Overlord would be (if such a thing existed), the combination of tongue-in-cheek humour and accessible RTS-light gameplay made it well worth owning. There was something quite addictive about sending groups of minions on evil rampages through lush rural villages, destroying everything in their path. We wanted a sequel that upped the evil quota while retaining the fun gameplay and tone of the original, and that's more or less what we've got with Overlord II.
Once again your goal is to cause all manner of chaos and evil. The story picks up during the time of the Roman Empire, as the minions are in search of a new master. The first level sees you learning the ropes as a child would-be Overlord, before taking one final test once you're all grown up. Anyone who's played the original won't find things all that different, at least at first. You control the Overlord like you would any character in a third-person adventure game, can hack and slash enemies with your big sword, call minions over, use evil magic and command minions to do your evil bidding.
While the Overlord is capable of holding his own in a fight, the game is built around the minion mechanic, so you'll generally be taking a back seat to the action and sending the little grunts out to do all the hard work. You can either target a creature or object and fire them off to attack or manually guide them around the environment as a pack. The early going is incredibly similar to the original game, although it's not long before you get your first taste of something new in the shape of mounts for your minions.
The first you'll encounter are vicious wolves (you'll come across more animals later on), which the minions will jump on and ride, making them even more deadly in fights. You can't take these mounts everywhere though, with the creatures refusing to enter certain areas, forcing the minions to continue on foot - for example, wolves don't seem too fond of caves. You can also use a magic spell to possess a minion, giving you the chance to play as one of the little terrors and experience life from their pint-sized point of view. These sections are stealth focussed and nicely break up the more action-oriented gameplay that dominates the rest of the game.
So how exactly can you be more evil in Overlord II? Is clubbing baby seals to death evil enough for you? Baby seals that let off whimpering cries when they're at death's door? It's evil, but somehow the game never feels nasty. It's all done in jest, although we doubt mummy and daddy seal think the same - they'll just have to be clubbed to death too. Killing does have a purpose, with each life force you harvest being used as a kind of minion life reserve, allowing you to summon more from the various portals should some fall in battle.
As in the first game, minions come in a variety of forms: brown, red, blue and green. Browns are the brutes, good for getting their hands dirty in straight up brawling; reds can put out fires and fire flaming coals at enemies and obstacles; blues can swim and greens are good with gasses. Keeping the minion class count to four might disappoint some players, but the simplicity prevents things from bogging down with complexity. There's still some thought required - the game is far tougher than Wii game, Dark Legend, but things are too tricky to pick up for beginners.