Mon, Jul 13, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Computer games vie for players

STAYING INDOORS? This summer’s highlights include ‘Overlord II,’ the role-playing game ‘Divinity II,’ and ‘Call of Juarez,’ an action videogame set in the wild west

DPA , HAMBURG

July is traditionally a slow month for computer games, but companies are hoping that a few of this year’s offerings will keep sales strong.

Highlights include Overlord II, the sequel to the smash hit Overlord, the role-playing Divinity II, and Call of Juarez, an action game set in the wild west. There’s also Free Realms, a new online role-playing game.

Overlord turned gaming conventions on their head when it was introduced in 2007. Rather than presenting a benevolent king on a quest to help his people or a hero confronting evil, the game asks players to take on a more villainous role.

Gamers are asked to destroy their online world accompanied by a horde of seemingly insane small people who occasionally use pumpkins as helmets.

The game worked because the role of the Overlord was evil mixed with a good dose of laughs.

Overlord II continues the tradition. Publisher Codemasters said the Overlord in its sequel is again running amok in his world, wreaking havoc with an army of slightly stupid helpers.

Gamers are treated to rich action and a fair helping of dark humor.

The back story was written by Rhianna Pratchett, daughter of author Terry Pratchett.

Scheduled for release this month, Overlord II is expected to sell for about 50 euros (US$70).

At the other extreme, there’s little in the way of laughs in Divinity II: Ego Draconis. The game follows the tried and true role-playing style, with players taking on the role of a hero and fighting for a worthy cause.

But designers have added a few twists. In the middle of the game, the hero picks up the ability to turn into a dragon.

The hero has a long list of tasks to accomplish. There are monsters to slay and the hero’s abilities must constantly be upgraded.

Publisher dtp plans to bring the game to market by July 24, priced at 50 euros.

Sony Online Entertainment, meanwhile, has branched out with the online game Free Realms.

Players eager to get right to the fun will be pleased by the simplicity of the software’s installation, which is accomplished during the time spent setting up character profiles.

The game seeks to offer players greater freedoms, letting them can opt to spend time on teaching pets tricks, decorating their house or playing a seemingly endless selection of games within the game.

But for traditionalists, there are plenty of monsters to fight, as well.

But the real draw of Free Realms is that it is free. Two million people registered with the game in the US within a month of its release in April.

Sony profits on the game by allowing users to buy extra options for around 5 euros a month.

For players looking for good old-fashioned action, Ubisoft’s Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is likely to be popular.

The game lets players operate as the McCall brothers, a pair of pistol-packing heroes.

Call of Juarez is set for release sometime this month, also at the price of approximately 50 euros.

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