House of The Dead: Overkill
11th Feb 2009 | 17:56
Let's start with the blood. There's lots of it. So much in fact that it's sometimes hard to see what you're supposed to be shooting at next. And the swearing? Worse. It makes a Roy Chubby Brown boxset seem fit for prime time Saturday viewing. But we've got no problems with all that - this is man gaming at its best. On Wii too. Who would have thought it?
After a disastrous Hollywood movie and a few run of the mill last-gen efforts the House of Dead franchise must have been hanging in the balance. How many more times can we get excited when we hear "RELOAD!" as a hungry mummy sinks its teeth into our face? Enter UK-based Headstrong Games (the re-branded Kuju studio) who's been given free reign to reinvent the HotD wheel as they see fit.
Seemingly inspired by everything from White Zombie to Basket Case, House of The Dead: Overkill plays to the series' strengths and is delivered with venomous style. We laughed out loud on several occasions to the outrageous dialogue and ultra violence. This is our idea of 'party game'.
The narrative sees two feisty agents chasing a twisted doctor type across classic horror-story settings like a fun fair (complete with killer clowns), a rotten swamp, a death train, underground labs and a jail full of mental mutants. All bases have been covered and the delivery is wrapped up superbly with a 70s-style film grain presentation. It's sick and almost no topic is off limits as far as jokes go.
Gameplay is classic HotD however. The on rails camera aims to keep you on your toes, making you guess the right time to reload. It teases you with special items to hit that'll slow down time or reward you with collectables later on. And it throws plenty of cannon fodder in your face from every imaginable angle. A typical boss battle awaits you at the end of each level too.
What makes this stand out from the long-running series is the new direction the non-Japanese developer has gone in. Overkill oozes an unbelievable amount of gore and sweariness. It's straight out of a low budget sci-fi / horror romp from the 70 / 80s, the kind we grew up on. It's foul-mouthed and funny, just like the office during Mario Kart sessions at lunch (even if we do say so ourselves).
Weapons are a usual mix of pistols, shot-guns and assault rifles. Each boomstick can be upgraded in various ways by splashing the cash you've earned. You also get points for your killing spree and you'll use a certain amount of these to buy a 'continue' if you die during a level.
Combos are all present and correct too. The more times you hit dead flesh rather than dead air the more you score. Be careful with weapons like shotguns and SMGs though, they give off a lot of splash damage making it easy to reduce your mighty combo to pittance.
Once you've smashed your way through the single player game you open a Director's Cut, which features extended versions of the same levels, packed with more mutants. There's even some extra stuff to unlock if you blast your way thought that. The story mode can be played thorough by you and mate but there are extra multiplayer modes for up to four. If you're rich enough to own four Remotes you can play survival and accuracy based mini-games till the zombies come home.
On a slightly worrying note there were a couple of glitches we ran into that saw us having to restart our machines (we played a PAL boxed copy on a retail Wii). As we started the swamp we were met with no enemies at all. The on-rails camera pulled us though the level, we were able to shoot as normal, but the enemies forgot to show up. We quit the game and the same happened again. The framerate drops every now and again too, usually when buckets of blood are thrown at you.
None of the above detracts from what is a very entertaining game that'll have you sniggering and giggling from start to finish. The main campaign can be beaten in a few hours but you'll come back and play some more to earn cash for all the weapons and upgrades, as well as extra collectable goodies that lie in wait. A warning though - don't play it near anyone that doesn't find repeated use of the F word funny as f**k.