Remember wasting whole days at the arcade playing Time Crisis and The House of the Dead? Of course you do. Remember shelling out £70 for Time Crisis 3 and a GunCon? Of course you don’t; light gun games on consoles never really took off like they did in the arcades – not everyone was willing to shell out for the expensive peripherals which would be used for all of the 3 hours it took to complete the game they were bundled with. However, with IR Tech already built in to Nintendo’s Wii Remote, the Wii seems like the perfect console to revive the lightgun genre.
We’ve seen evidence of this not only from SEGA, but from Capcom too. Both Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and The House of the Dead 2&3 Return have seen unexpected success on the Wii, with both titles selling over a million copies at retail. If this wasn’t proof enough of the genre’s comeback, one could only look to releases such as Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles and Dead Space: Extraction. Or, for the sake of this review, they could even look a little closer to home – the first ever console-exclusive House of the Dead is here, and it’s all kinds of mother-fucking awesome.
Developed by Headstrong Games (Battalion Wars 2), OVERKILL stays as close to the classic HOTD formula as possible, even paying homage to previous iterations in the ‘Carny’ level, while simultaneously applying a sheen of ‘Grind House’, B-Movie goodness that Tarantino himself would be proud of. The whole game is a parody in and of itself and the franchise as a whole; it shouldn’t work, but it does. Why? Because it never takes itself seriously.
Not only is the cheesy dialog of previous HOTD titles still here, it’s been amped up tenfold, and it becomes more and more apparent throughout the game. Some might argue that Detective Washington’s foul mouth grows tiresome after the first two levels, but violence, cursing, offensive and un-PC content are the order of the day in OVERKILL. While the humour in the game is often light-hearted, it freely walks the line between tongue-in-cheek and tasteless. If you’re easily offended, you’re not going to enjoy this game. Especially the ending. Seriously.
OVERKILL plays exactly as you’d imagine; the game takes place from a first-person perspective as the camera pans and flicks around the game world, with zombies popping in (at times literally) all around you. It’s your job to make sure they don’t eat your brains out. The game does nothing to convolute the action with any unnecessary innovation, and that’s what’s great about it. It’s a lightgun game, pure and simple, and a fantastic one at that. A lack of innovation aside, OVERKILL still manages to feel fresh.
The game features a combo system that rewards accurate shooting – the more consecutive hits and headshots you string together, the higher your multiplier, and thus score, will become. Miss your target, however, and your multiplier will be lost. Think of it like Guitar Hero, only with exploding brains and all that loveliness. It sounds simple, but it’s reason enough to keep your shooting accurate.
Talking of shooting, the gunplay in OVERKILL is hugely satisfying, and at times, worryingly goregasmic. Fire a gun, and you’ll hear the meaty roar of your weapon. The game will then provide a suitable ‘kickback’camera effect, followed by the sanguinary implosion of your target’s brains. It all feels very satisfying, and almost gives you the feeling that you’re holding Washington’s Desert Eagle, even more so when you’re using Nyko’s Perfect Shot peripheral. The effect is made all the more satisfying when you enter the perfectly-titled ‘Slow Mo-Fo Time’, giving you time to appreciate the beautifully rendered fountains of life juice and entrails.