Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii) Review

Everyone loves zombies until they start eating your brains out. Case in point: Agent G doesn't like it when people use the "Z" word. One would assume that he means the word "zombie". Instead, he's actually referring to the word "zamboni" because hockey fails. Send your hate mail to Agent G at AMS.


Is anyone ever going to tell me what the "G" stands for?

Mature content. It's somewhat of a misnomer when you think about. Most games that are deemed as having mature content offer nothing of the sort. It's even worse when the game being poised as mature takes itself way too seriously. Luckily, SEGA-produced, Headstrong Games-developed (formerly Kuju) The House of the Dead: Overkill is the complete antithesis of what I'm talking about. Crass, juvenile, full of foul-language, potty-humor, and lowbrow antics, Overkill isn't mature at all. The fact that it doesn't try to hide that it's not is just one of the great things about this Wii shooter. Regardless, is The House of the Dead: Overkill overly worth a look, or is it just overindulging in failure?

The director of the AMS has sent the mysterious AMS agent, known only as Special Agent G, on his first assignment-- to investigate a man called Papa Caesar, one of the only links to the recent rash of mutant outbreaks. Little did Agent G know that he'd have a partner, a temperamental police officer, Detective Issac Washington, armed with an all-powerful arsenal-- and that's just his language! Together, as Papa Caesar's brought the zombies, they'll bring the bullets (and bean dip) to the party. Overkill doesn't just describe the over-the-top visceral violence the game features, but it also has to do with the orgy of offensive language and content present. To put it into terms, a sentence without the use of the "F" word is a rare occasion. Normally for a game, this would be a severe turn-off, but it works in Overkill because the game doesn't take itself seriously at all. Most of this type of language is always used comically (usually by Detective Washington as he doesn't know too many other adjectives), and it makes for a really raucous and hilarious experience. I can just see a bunch of college kids playing a drinking game using Washington's dialogue. "Drink every time he says $#$$%#$%!" You'd be drunk by the end of the first level. Still, those who would like a game with language you could say on a Sunday morning should steer clear. Everyone else can bust a gut laughing, however.

I got into the fair "3 for the price of 1".
This is not what I meant.

Continuing with the Grindhouse feel of the game, The House of the Dead: Overkill utilizes a unique graphical filter as if you were watching a damaged reel of film. Character, enemy, and weapon models are all excellent and well-done and designed. Levels also showcase wonderful design-- what more could one expect from the same gang that did Battalion Wars? The only main quarrel with the presentation side of things is the intermittent and nearly constant eye-blinking long pauses in-game that come from loading enemies and rooms. This is by no means game-breaking, but I did end up failing to hit an enemy due to the quick delay. Cut-scenes and voice acting are purposefully B-grade level which, again, mimic the Grindhouse genre of film.

Like every other House of the Dead game in the series, Overkill is what you'd call an on-rails shooter, that is, all that you can do is aim and shoot as movement is automatic. There are seven levels in all each ranging from 10-20 minutes in length. While playing through the entire story mode takes but a couple of hours, there's plenty of bang for one's buck. After the story mode is completed, a director's cut mode is unlocked. This mode features new areas in the original levels to make the levels longer and more morbid mutants to massacre. Meeting certain in-game requirements such as not dying or keeping your accuracy above a given amount awards the player with new music, movies, concept art, and 3D character, enemy, and weapon models. The latter being the coolest as you can inspect each model closely and admire the terrific job Headstrong did graphically. Additionally, cash earned from playing the game can be used to upgrade and purchase new weapons from the one hit kill devastation of the handcannon to the fistful of boom-stick known as the shotgun. Reload speed, ammo capacity, power, among others can be enhanced fully for maximum miscreant murder. Two guns can be held at once, the 1/2 button switches weapons on the fly.

I got on this train "2 for the price of 1".
This is not what I meant.

In levels, The House of the Dead: Overkill is a gala of mutant-mutilating mayhem. Enemies can be slowed down by shooting their limbs off, or a well-placed headshot can vaporize your pursuer leaving a fantastic fountain of oozing blood. Even after thousands of head-exploding shots, the sheer satisfaction is still there in taking a mutant out in gushy glory. By successfully killing mutants without missing a shot, a combo meter rises. As it reaches each level, completed by killing five enemies, the point bonus for each kill rises. When a player enters the Goregasm stage, each kill is worth a whopping 1,000 points as long as the player keeps a steady aim and their combo going. The "slow mo-fo" item that can be shot at to activate, moves everything to a slothful speed allowing you to blast baddies' brains out with ease-- and admire the sights and sounds of heads exploding with glee. Other items such as grenades add some explosive destruction into the mix, health-restoring med kits, and point-boosting golden brains are hidden rather well throughout each level-- begging the two unsteady allies to play through them more than once.

There's a wide variety of enemies to take down in Overkill, starting out with mutants who will run, walk, and crawl towards you to attack and mutants who will chuck health-harming cutlery and broken beer bottles that must be shot down. As the game rolls on, the diverse cast of monstrosities grows featuring kamikaze birds, acid-spouting Pukers, and creatures that just can't resist getting up close and personal with Agent G and Detective Washington. Speaking of varied creatures, the boss battles in House of the Dead: Overkill are some repulsive customers. Nonetheless, few really pose that much of a real challenge. Just shoot at their weak point when it's revealed, marked over by a red circle, and blast the boss away to Hell, Purgatory, or the CW.

I asked to get attacked by mutants.
This is not what I meant.

Rounding out the package is the ability to play with two players in the main mode. Each player gets their own score unlike the unlockable dual-wield mode which allows one player to use two Wii remotes and one unified score. Firing mutants with two Wii-remotes? You can't get any more bad-ass than that! For quick bursts of baddie-blasting fun, there are three mini-games ranging from a shooting gallery, a game where you fight off increasingly more aggressive onslaughts of zombies, and a survivor-saving test. These mini-games add a different kind of experience for those tired of mowing down mutants in the main mode.

These clowns are slow, but they pack a punch!

The House of the Dead: Overkill overflows with an overabundance of overwhelmingly enjoyable entertainment. The creativity and design used by Headstrong is one that more third parties on Wii should strive for. There's a degree of obvious quality present in this potent package. While Overkill is definitely not for everyone as it overdoses on adult content, those who are old enough who are fans of on-rails shooters, the House of the Dead franchise, or well-executed Wii games should definitely check this game out.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.75/10]


Kyle said...

Great review. Really loving the game myself.

Though you completely lost me with the "This is not what I meant" captions. :D Care to explain?

Unknown said...

I typed out the first caption as a joke saying three zombies for one when I meant three people for the price of one. You probably got that part.

Then I looked at the second caption and did the same thing as a running joke.

Then again for the third.

It was funny to me at least. :X

Thanks for the compliment! Hope you are feeling better!

Val said...

Ooo... Zombies..

The Dread Pirate Guy said...

So how bad did the ending scar you? I was left slack-jawed in disbelief about Clement's final request.

Anonymous said...

I love this game so much. Sooooo much. I'm gonna have my review up on everyview by end's week, I hope. I'll link back to your review too, to give readers some diversity and get you some more traffic.

And what ever happened to your hit counter?

Zac Pritcher

Anonymous said...

Alright our HoTD:O review is up. We linked back to your review. Go check it out if you're not too busy.

Zac Pritcher