Overlord: Raising Hell

When Overlord was released on the XBOX 360 earlier this year, it was received with mixed emotions. Some enjoyed its evil and humours direction, while others criticized its mediocre presentation and somewhat tedious and repetitive gameplay. It had plenty of great aspects but far too many bad ones and ultimately it was released with little notice. Today, it’s hard to find the game on store shelves and while it has a small but dedicated cult following, it’s still an often-overlooked title.

Even after the games bumpy ride on the 360, Codemasters and developer Triumpth Studios have handballed the title over to the Playstation 3 and the result is pretty much the same. The expansion pack that was released shortly after the 360 launch is included alongside the original content, but it doesn’t change the experience all that much this time around (it didn’t on the 360, either).

Overlord: Raising Hell is a title that perfectly demonstrates the game’s objectives; you’re an Overlord whose main aim is to “raise hell”. You take control of an evil, intimidating and strong warrior who is straight from the depths of hell. Awaken by a group of small but committed Minions, you guide this scary Overlord to victory and eventual leadership and glory

Your base, or castle, acts as a resting place where you can upgrade skills, change weapons and appearance and warp to difference areas of the map. It’s sort of like a main-menu but obviously with more interaction. You can build up and improve this castle with the help of your minions and it kind of acts as a side-quest. You can’t help but feel obligated to get it looking nice, clean and “evil”.

Going through each environment, beating enemies, causing havoc and solving puzzles eventually earns you gold and Lifeforce, with the latter being used to summon new minions and upgrade weapons and skills.

There isn’t all that much to the gameplay in Overlord: Raising Hell. You can control the Overlord as much as you want, but the main aim of the game is to guide your minions and get them to do the dirty work for you. Being able to direct them and take advantage of their abilities is crucial to your success. The minions are split up into two groups of red and blue, with red minions given the ability to be immune to, and throw, fire. The blue minions have the ability to heal so ultimately, managing and maintaining a good number of each is definitely relied upon by your progression.

The one great thing that Overlord does very well is its ability to change in accordance to the way you play it. The game adapts depending on how evil you are. For example, townspeople will be more frightened of you if you’re overly evil, but they’ll stand up to you if you’re a little bit of a weakling. Controlling the minions can be fun at times but it comes off a bit gimmicky and you end up directing them to do the same things over and over again.

Beyond the games simple gameplay and impressive adapting techniques, there really isn’t all that much more positive about it. It gets repetitive early on and doesn’t really reward you for success, even though your character evolves and you eventually achieve glory. The rewards just don’t seem all that rewarding compared to how much time you’re actually going to be putting into it.

Also, the game looks fairly average. The load times are quite embarrassing and it’s games like these that make you praise the developers who make 20-minute install times on the PS3 compulsory. The load times are unforgivable in this title and the framerate fluctuates far too frequently

As for the multiplayer, there’s nothing there worth checking out. Give it a miss.

Overlord: Raising Hell comes off as a budget title. The concept is great and initially, ordering your minions around and creating havoc is a lot of fun, but it gets old and repetitive and when you couple that with a very, very mediocre presentation and worthless multiplayer, you have a rather lacking title.

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