Overlord: Raising Hell
Developer: Triumph Studios
Publisher: Codemasters
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1–2 Players split screen or online
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It’s been out a while for the PC and 360 and now with a few minor tweaks and the inclusion of the previously only-downloadable content, the “dark one” and his cronies are marauding onto the PS3.

The basic plot sees you awake from beneath a pile of rubble to find your dark tower in tatters and your evil powers stripped from you. It’s up to you to regain your reputation and rebuild your wicked empire. It’s simple but effective.

On first play the game’s style and humour is reminiscent of Bullfrog’s “Dungeon Keeper” series, and it’s clear to see this must have been a heavy influence for the developers. It could have been a dark and chilling title but sensibly it has been designed with a more comical intent, which starts with your guide and advisor Gnarl - an imp-like creature - who provides advice and instruction.

From your tower hub you can access a variety of different missions and objectives. Despite being a bad guy you are often required to help out the fearful locals who will provide you with assistance later on. You can always choose to get rid of them after they’ve helped you out, but hey, you wouldn’t be a very good overlord if you didn’t get to kill some peasants every now and then! Your choices will ultimately change the ending you receive upon completion and also small cosmetic changes to your appearance a la Fable.

While you can fight yourself, as with all the great evil leaders the faceless anti-hero in the game isn’t fond of getting his hands dirty, so therefore has access to a league of stupid but sort-of loveable “minions” who are a kind of Gollum/Gremlin mix of creature. These followers will do pretty much whatever you want them to do and as you progress come in four different varieties.

You start with the brown minions who are your typical grunt. These are the strongest and are purely there to attack and destroy anything you need them to. Red ones are used for long range fireball attacks but can also absorb fire, allowing you to access previously blocked off areas of the map. Blue minions can swim and revive dead companions, which is extremely useful, and finally we have the green minions who are great at stealthy attacks and are immune to toxic gas.

Controlling your army is relatively straightforward and is made even more so by the introduction of a mini-map for this PS3 version. Point your character in the direction you need the minions to go and attack and a quick tap of a shoulder button sends them there. For more controlled movement you can manoeuvre minions with the right analogue stick, useful when you want access to places the evil one can’t get to himself. When you have a mixture of the different character classes together you can micro-manage the groups individually, which allows you to strategically plan an attack more effectively. This can be tricky with the control scheme and camera but when it works it is immensely satisfying.

The environments throughout the game are nice and include forests and burning hell-like sections but they never push the hardware and are definitely showing their age more than a little. It would’ve been better if we could have had a major lick of paint added to this PS3 version but what we’re left with is merely visuals that are ‘OK’. Characters fare slightly better because of their distinct personalities which show through the animation and voice work but sadly the frame rate is woefully shaky and can slow down the action more than it should. Couple this with the long load times and you’ll see this isn’t the premier PS3 package it should’ve been.

For those who want to be evil with their friends there are a number of fairly enjoyable multiplayer modes, including some co-op maps. Split-screen isn’t recommended as the frame rate drops quite a bit, but online isn’t bad if you can actually find someone else playing the game. Included in the package are all the extra maps found with the 360 and PC downloadable content, which is worth a mention.

Overlord is great fun at times marred by technical issues and the occasional repetitive mission. If you can see past these and actually get into the game you’ll find a humorous adventure that manages to get better the more you play. The constant one-liners from Gnarl and the minions and decent musical score finish off what is an original, if slightly broken title.

Best Bits

- It has a sense of humour
- It's good to be bad
- Controlling an army of minions is satisfying
Worst Bits

- Dated visuals
- Inconsistent frame rate
- Clunky controls

by: Pedro

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