One of the most annoying things about the original Overlord Raising Hell was the frequent prospect of building up your minions significantly with upgrades throughout the course of the game, only to have them cut down during a battle. Their unique powers would be lost; you'd turn off the PS3 there and then and reboot the game to pick up just prior to where you lost yet another favourite minion. How tedious. Thankfully, this sequel fixes that aspect - one of the numerous attempts to improve upon the flawed potential of the first game.
As you might guess, you play as the evil overlord in command of a gaggle of little monsters eager to do your bidding. Set directly after the previous game's events, you play as the successor to that game's overlord, using your wits to avoid being trapped by the wholesome new kingdom spreading virtuousness across the land.
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Another irk from the first game, the dodgy camera, is now much more manageable, though still given to the odd kink, while there's an improved map which clearly highlights your next quest marker.
Yet there's still something missing. Overlord II looks great - every world is lushly realised and playing through each offers a varied set of quests and rewards, not to mention wanton destruction to wreak, and the minions themselves are more of a pleasure to use thanks to a raft of new abilities. Maybe it's the multi-faceted story which offers little in the way of a solid thread to draw these fractured episodes of mayhem together? Without this epic tale, the game becomes smashing, crushing and pillaging for its own sake. There's nothing wrong with that, but even evil overlords can get a little ticked off if there's no real point.
Mind you, the darkly funny plot does manage to pack in plenty of real-world piss-takes (dreary tree-huggers, say), it's just that the gameplay doesn't draw you into it quite enough.
The instant gratification to be had from the simple, if dubious, joys of clubbing seals to death or hitching a ride on the back of a wolf as you rampage through a peaceful village almost makes up for the lack of a discernible point.
The four minion breeds are now more responsive and therefore more fun to control, but they're also more prone to distraction. One great touch was sending a group of critters into a fairy settlement to cause havoc, only to have them hypnotised by a busty Liv Tyler-alike and led astray. This sort of thing happens regularly and for the better!
Undoubtedly, it's big improvement on Raising Hell. The majority of the technical issues have been improved upon, save for an occasionally wobbly framerate and the game has far more to do. But there's still a strange sense of emptiness to everything, which makes me think about what could have been.
Undeniably great fun and funny, but still a bit on the vapid side.