Tuesday, 03 July 2007, 10:18:26 EDT

Thursday, on my way home, I stopped and bought a copy of Overlord for my Xbox 360. I had played the demo and thought it would be a fun game, even though the demo was lackluster. I thought the demo ended too abruptly and didn't give quite enough gameplay. Turns out, I was wrong. The game is almost exactly like the demo. It is a fun game, but the story doesn't develop very well. Maybe I'm expecting too much from a game that lets you take fifty minions and pillage a couple towns, setting fire to their fields, and killing all of their sheep, but the beginning and end were not joined very well by intermediate story telling.

Aside from the story, I really enjoyed the game. If you have played Pikmin then you know the basics of this game. As you explore the world, you gain control of four types of minions: brown, red, green, and blue. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses. The browns are grunts; they are adept at hand-to-hand combat and can take the most damage. The reds are weaker than the browns, but have a ranged fireball attack; they are also impervious to fire and have the ability to extinguish flames. Greens are very much like the creatures from the 1984 movie Gremlins. They can become invisible to enemies and will jump on their backs and back-stab them. They are the most effective minion type to bring down large monsters with a lot of hit points. Finally, there are the blues. I found them to be mostly useless. They are the only minion type that can enter water and are very weak. They have two plusses that were not of much use to me — they can revive fallen minions and are your only weapon against magical creatures. There are only two magical creatures that I have encountered; neither of which occur in any sort of abundance. Throughout the game you must solve puzzles with your minions. None of the puzzles are very complicated. For example, one of the tricker puzzles involved blues and browns. To advance through a specific area, you need browns to fight with. However, their spawn point is in the middle of water. So you must spawn some browns, let the water kill them, and collect them with some blues who will then revive them on dry land. That is probably the most difficult puzzle in the game.

After beating the game last night, I played online for a while. It seems like only two people can play against, or with, each other. In the versus modes, it is you against another player trying to pillage more gold or kill more things than the other player. The co-op mode pits you, along with the other player, against successively harder monsters with your only goal to see how long you will last. I think each mode will be fun for a while, but by the time I get all of the multiplayer achievements I think I will be done with them. They don't seem to have much staying power.

I give this game an 8 out of 10 mogwais. It's a fun game to let out your inner overlord, but the story could use some work and there doesn't seem to be much replay value. If you enjoyed Pikmin, but wanted more, this is your game. It's campy, tongue-in-cheek humor and cartoon evil is a lot of fun.