Thursday, July 9, 2009

Overlord: Dark Legend (Wii) Review

The Overlord has commanded his minions on all major gaming platforms minus one. We'll be taking a look at the Wii installment of the Pikmin-like franchise with Overlord: Dark Legend.

Raisin' Hell on the Wii

The Wii remote seems to be a perfect controller for some types of games. We've seen some form of creature-calling action with the New Play Control version of Pikmin, so why not look into what's considered the evil version of Pikmin with the Overlord series? Both of the numerical installments of the Overlord games have wound up on HD platforms, so with the DS game, this is the first time the series has hit a Nintendo platform. It's Overlord: Dark Legend for the Nintendo Wii.

Overlord: Dark Legend is intended as an origin title for the other two HD Overlord games. You start as a weak and gutless boy, son of the king of Gromgard, taking orders from your bossy brother and sister. When you get a magical glove on your 16th birthday, you find a castle door that can be opened with it. Inside, a ghoul of sorts give you a foreboding suit of armor and a quartet of monstrous minions that follow every order you beckon. The rest of the story pans out how you become the ruler of Gromgard leading the way towards Overlord I and II.

The birth of the Overlord...

As the newly crowned Overlord, you do not need to get your own hands dirty. You're above that! Of course, you can lend a hand and smash up stuff with an axe or sword, but why do that when you have an army of minions to do your bidding? There are four varieties of minions, and you begin with just the standard grays, the offensive line of your ferocious force. As your proceed through the game, you'll unlock new varieties such as the fire-throwing reds who can inhale walls of fire blocking the way, the water-loving blues which won't drown in la aqua like the other minion types, and the noxious-breathing greens who can use stealth to defeat enemies, and breathe and remove poisonous gas from paths. There will be points in the game where you have to use a combination of types to solve puzzles as well as points where you'll need to backtrack to reach a previous unreachable bonus item such as health-increasing or mana-increasing totems.

It's good to be king.

Dark Legend has you using the nunchuk and Wii remote combination to play. The pointer is used to move your minions around manually while holding the B button. You can point to enemies and press a button to have them storming towards your foes. If you feel left out, you can always join in on the action, too, as you're equipped with armor and a weapon which can be upgraded at the castle forge. Your minions will follow you automatically, or you can put up a guard marker to have them stay in position. If you'd like, you can split up your troops and command each color separately. At the start of the game you're controlling four minions, but by the end you'll have an army of twenty to pillage the land from evil that isn't your own. Your minions can smash up vases and other breakables, sometimes finding goodies for their master such as health and mana (magic) potions, gold to purchase new weapons and armor at the forge, and wearable bonuses for themselves. Life force items they collect can be used to make more minions in case any of your own should perish. Not all is right with your minions, however. They can be quite stupid at times. They might attack enemies you didn't order them to attack. Instead, you just wanted to retreat. Sometimes they won't stop attacking a boss creature until the second or third attempt to call them back.

A sacrifice in the name of the Overlord.

Presentation-wise, Overlord: Dark Legend is quite good. Visually the game is impressive with nice architecture, great level design, and nice lighting, but it's not all without a problem here and there. There's some framerate issues as well as various visual bugs and loading screens through the game's various lands. The script of the game is humorous, and the dialogue and voice acting is very good. There's problems though with enemies spouting the same lines over and over again until they're disposed of.

Overall, Overlord: Dark Legend is a story worth spending time with, but it may be worth only a rental for most as the game is surprisingly short-- less than ten hours. There's side-quests to participate in as well as random doodads to collect such as new magic spells and stat-increasing items, but that won't take too long to complete either. The Wii remote's pointer feels like a match made in heaven with this type of game, and with a little fine-tuning regarding minion AI, graphical glitches, and the length of the game, the developers may just have a hit on their hands the next time around. As for now, Overlord: Dark Legend is a terrific rental until it reaches a lower price.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.5/10]

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