Overlord: Raising HellESRB:
Developer – Triumph Studios
Publisher - Codemasters
Players: 2 (online 2)
Required Hard Disk Space: At Least 2329 MB
Online Broadband Required
PLAYSTATION Network Compatible
It was Tuesday afternoon and I was frantically getting ready for my departure to E3 this coming Saturday when all of a sudden Overlord: Raising Hell for the PS3 arrived at my home office. My first thought was “Wasn't this game released last year?”, and my second thought was “What a great looking cover!” After some quick online research I confirmed Overlord: Raising Hell was recently released for PS3, hitting store shelves in late June of this year. Wow, talk about flying under the radar as Overlord: Raising Hell was released with little to no hoopla.
Overlord was released on the Xbox 360 and PC over a year ago and it was fairly well received by critics. Several months after its original release, an expansion pack named ‘Raising Hell’ arrived as free downloadable content. Well the PS3 version is essentially the original Overlord and the expansion pack rolled into one game. As such, with over a year to work on some of those deficiencies identified with the original Overlord, I was very curious to see if the PS3 version of the game addressed some of those concerns. Let’s find out shall we.
For starters, the box art for Overlord: Raising Hell is slick looking. The cover has a Lord of the Rings meets the Gremlins look about it. All-in-all, it is certainly one of the better looking covers I have seen lately. Unfortunately, the in-game visuals don't quite maintain the same look as the box art.
My biggest concern with regards to the visuals is that I did not notice much of difference with the PS3 version when compared to the Xbox 360 version. Granted the new onscreen mini map is cool, however it is much the same as the Xbox 360 version. You would think that with over a year to work on the PS3 version we would see some slicker and sharper looking visuals. Sadly this is not the case and in fact a few more problems surface this time around. For instance, there is framerate drops and slowdown which occurs far too often. Even your most casual gamer will notice the slowdown when things start to get a little hectic on the screen. Considering how far we are into the life cycle of the PS3 I view these issues as unacceptable and far too much of an annoyance.
The character animations and the games environments do the job, however they do look somewhat dated. Granted, I have been spoiled lately with incredible looking games on the PS3 such as Metal Gear Solid 4 and the Grand Turismo 5 Prologue. So the bar has certainly been raised in recent months. Unfortunately, Overlord: Raising Hell's visuals do not hold a candle to those previously mentioned tittles.
Another concern I had with the game is the load times. I am left a little baffled as to why we see such lengthy load times for a game which doesn't appear to come close to pushing the limits of the PS3. Perhaps the load times are unavoidable but an annoyance nonetheless. Don't get me wrong, by itself Overlord: Raising Hell is decent looking 'cartoonish' type game, however there is nothing incredibly innovative about the games graphics and it gives you that "been there, done that" feeling.
Oh yeah, and one last note: Why was the game only available in 720p? Again, this far into the PS3’s life, this is simply unacceptable.
As far as the audio is concerned, and despite being available in 7.1 surround sound, Overlord: Raising Hell falls a little short and it is unfortunately not on par with other PS3 games already on the market. Granted, I had some high expectations and was expecting it to give my home theater audio system a work-out, regrettably this was not the case.
The soundtrack and in-game music is decent and some of the tunes are catchy but when considering all that is included in the soundtrack area it just manages to get the job done. On more of a plus side, some of the voice work can be amusing at times and it manages to sound very sharp and clear in surround sound. The battle sounds are also very good, but fairly typical of similar games. In the end, it's nothing we have not heard before. Bottomline, nothing really stood out for me in terms of the game’s audio.
Overlord: Raising Hell is a unique game which doesn’t fall into any one category. Played from the third person perspective it is essentially an action, adventure, and puzzle game rolled into one. The story takes place in a twisted fantasy world reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. You play as an evil Overload who has been awoken only to find things are not as they were when you left. Determined to regain your former glory, demonic creatures known as Minions assist you to gain control once again. Completely loyal to their Overlord, the Minions use their abilities to fetch, fight and even die. Throughout the game, you can amass armies of up to 50 Minions as they explore and conquer the world's five domains. With the assistance of Gnarl, an old and wise Minion, your goal is to guide the Overlord through the various missions as you strive to re-claim former glory. Overall, it's not a bad story but it is not critical to the gameplay.
The games controls are very simple and you will have a good understanding of them in no time. You essentially move your Overlord around with the left analog stick and your Minions are controlled with the right stick. Summoning and giving commands to your Minions is also very straight-forward and will not take you too long to pick up either. The heart of the game is truly the Minions themselves and your ability to effectively use them. They are not all the same either as they come in four varieties. For instance, Blue Minions act as Medical Attendants reviving those that fall in battle and delivering magic spells. Red Minions on the other hand use fireballs to kill enemies and have a unique ability of clearing fire-glazed pathways. You will find that using the various minions at various times is a good twist on the gameplay and it manages to keep it somewhat fresh.
My only issue with the controls is the lack of camera control. Other than pressing the L1 button to put the camera back in proper alignment you don't have any manual control over it. It becomes problematic when the action becomes intense and several dozen of your Minions are scattered throughout a large environment. As a result, you simply miss out on a big chunk of the gameplay. The result is an experience which feels a little incomplete and not as next-gen as it should.
The single player campaign in Overlord: Raising Hell will take you anywhere from 20-30 hours to complete. So it certainly takes some patience. Much of the gameplay consists of plodding your way along the games environments, fighting enemies, figuring out some basic puzzles and digging up gold and Lifeforce. The Lifeforce is what is used to call up the assistance of more Minions. There are some other uses for the Lifeforce which is well explained as you progress through the game. Some of the areas become painfully boring and the game becomes quite repetitive after the first few hours. You can go through the entire game without engaging in battle. You just send the Minions in to do your dirty work. If they die, you just go make more of them. It works for awhile but I did find it got old quite quickly.
Overlord: Raising Hell does have multiplayer component, however it does feel like more a cheap add-on than anything else. There are seven multiplayer maps and three game modes. All of these were previously available on the Xbox 360 as free DLC. Unfortunately the modes and maps only offer a moderate level of enjoyment. The split screen mode is problematic at the best of times as the framerate issues re-surface. Add to that the camera issues and you have what should be a great mode rendered almost unplayable.
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