Review: House of the Dead: Overkill
Dear Microsoft. Light gun. NOW. Love Peoww.
I’ve always been a fan of lightgun games and have fond memories of playing Time Crisis II and Area 51 (50p per player a.k.a £1 for dual-wielding!) in the arcade of my local bowling alley – which has now sadly become achav haven. Strangely enough, despite the Wii being the perfect console for lightgun games you aren’t exactly spoiled for choice. If you have played the previous games in the House of the Dead series you will realise how radically different this is. Taking place beforeHotD 1, it tells the story of Agent G’s first assignment and the origins of the zombie outbreak. The story in these kinds of games is never usually important but this is an exception. Clearly a parody ofgrindhouse , B movie cinema and it’s presented in such a manner.The over-the-top, hammy acting of the characters are brilliant, particularly Isaac Washington who is basically all of Samuel L. Jackson’s film roles ever condensed into one, but with addedmutherfucker.
As far as the gameplay goes this is pretty much your standard on-rails shooter, but with the addition of the ability to move the camera slightly when thereticle is pointed at the side of the screen. You build up combos as you gun down zombies while adding score multipliers along the way ranging from “extreme violence” to “goregasm”. You can pick up bonuses such as the “Slo Mo Fo” item for a brief bullet-time effect, first aid packs and grenades. Weapons are bought using money awarded after each level, only two can be carried at once and they can be fully upgraded for increased damage, ammo capacity, less recoil etc. The standard magnum gets the job done but if you want more of a challenge it is advisable to simply stick with this weapon as the others are perhaps a little too powerful and make the game much easier, especially the fully-maxed automatic shotgun which is an absolute beast and by far the best gun to use if you are going for a high score. Thankfully, much like Sega’s otherWii lightgun games, you can properly calibrate the controller to aim exactly where you point, and you can also remove the crosshair for the authentic arcade experience.
The game consists of seven stages with each represented by it’s own authentic-looking movie poster. Each stage lasts around twenty minutes or so and, as you would expect, culminates in a boss battle which can be a tad easy due to the helpful red circle that shows their weak spot. While there is no selectable difficulty level, upon your first completion of the game you can choose to increase the number of zombies or, even better, play the Director’s Cut. This basically entails playing through the game again at a slightly higher difficulty, and with added extracutscenes , enemies and areas. Also, unlike the standard mode with its unlimited continues (the only penalty for dying is a points deduction), you only get to use three continues in the Director’s Cut before it’s game over, leading to a more cautious approach – you have to be more careful when you chose to reload so you don’t get caught off guard. After completing this mode you can then dual-wield weapons, different from simply playing two player in that you only have one health bar. As well as the main story mode, there are also a selection of four mini games for up to four players which are just basic things such as a target range and save the civilian. Also, it must be noted that a played this game strictly with alightgun attachment. First the Nyko Perfect Shot and then the official Hand Cannon. I much preferred the latter due to the more weighty and stable feel of it, plus it just looksbadass. The game perfectly playable just using the controller but using a lightgun shell certainly adds to the experience as well as making aiming much easier if you play without the crosshair.
Guns, babes, the un-dead, more guns and lots of swearing â€“ surely that’s all you need to know. For the others that need a bit more information how’s about the fact that I don’t see a better light gun game coming out on the Wii?
You can pretty much imagine what the gameplay is like, mowing down the un-dead like there’s no tomorrow just doesn’t get old. Unlike the other games I would say the variety of enemies is significantly more limited but frankly keeping it to the shambling masses never got dull. You can mix it up with a choice of weapons for each level, and your ability to upgrade them with cash earned adds more variety to the mayhem.
As you may imagine, light-gun games or any sort do have limited life span but the host of extras HotD comes with is more than reasonable.
I would strongly recommend a gun-grip add-on to use while playing (anything other than the Wii zapper should suffice). The AMS hand cannon add-on that is available to purchase certainly puts all those other crappy Wii add-ons to shame, holding the Wii-mote any other way to play just feels wrong frankly.
In short, House of the Dead: Overkill is a genius bit of gaming because of its immature, whorish fun attitude that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Hopefully Sega realise the little bit of magic they have created and try something equally inventive for the next game in the seriesâ€¦ Either that or another equally shameless genre rip-off *smiley-face.Secondary Score: 9/10
The visuals certainly make this stand out from the crowd while a lot of the zombies character models are repeated it is certainly one of the better lookingWii games. As well as the grainy, scratched film effect when in the game, the retro 70s-style movie poster presentation of the menus helps the game achieve the wholegrindhouse feel. The soundtrack meshes perfectly with the visual style, from 70’s the funk to sleazy guitar riffs it’s one of the best I’ve heard in a while and it’s a shame that it hasn’t been given an official release yet. The voice acting is definitely in the so-bad-it’s-good category and had me laughing out loud on numerous occasions. The narrator’s cliched movie trailer voice over during the level introductions in particular are fantastic. The dialogue on the whole is very memorable, not just because of the excessive swearing but for the humour as well.
While this game is undoubtedly brilliant, it isn’t without it’s flaws. The frame rate can sometimes take a hit when there is a lot going on, and on one occasion the slowdown during a boss fight caused me to be killed through no fault of my own. There are also frequent loading pauses, sometimes not that noticeable but other times it stutters more that Gareth Gate. While it’s hard to tell of this is intentional or not, it can become very inconvenient and irritating, especially when this happens during or just after a reload with zombies attacking as it causes you to misjudge your timing. There are also occasions where the game is simply far too dark to see what’s going on and you have to resort to shooting blindly, hoping that you cleared the area. Also, giving the scoring nature of the game uploading your high score to an onlineleaderboard would have been a good addition.
Simply put, I love this game. Everything about it. I cant remember the last time I had such fun playing a lightgun game. From the visuals, sound, presentation, gameplay it really is fantastic and as a complete package is definitely the best lightgun game so far on the Wii an without a doubt one of the best lightgun games I have ever played.