I tend to have a gag reflex when it comes to any games that feature guns. As the shooter genre and its various tributaries have evolved over the years, they have become increasingly similar, constantly leaning back on game mechanics that often feel tired and over-used. House of the Dead Overkill does this in the gameplay department, but its themes are so overtly crass, base and disgusting that the game becomes so much more than the sum of its parts. A hilarious, in your face and taboo shattering cult classic was what awaited Wii owners in 2009’s House of the Dead Overkill, and the new Extended Cut brings the game to a wider audience on PS3 with additional content.
The game follows the exploits of the cool and mysterious agent G and his comically racially charged partner, Agent Washington, as they track down the evil Papa Ceaser to prevent his mutant experiments from wiping out the human race. If it sounds a little generic, that’s because it is needlessly so; an element that demonstrates how self aware Overkill is. Whilst previous House of the Dead games have been memorable for their stilted and amusing B-Movie stories and dialogue, Overkill really takes this element to its full conclusion, resulting in a grind house film style that is both amusing and highly gory. Its extremity is what makes it unique though, making Overkill one of the few games I would describe as pulling no punches whatsoever.
The game takes on the mantle of a truly classic on-rails shooter, with little more than aiming and pulling the trigger taking up the majority of your time. Overkill thus has a simplicity and accessibility that comes with the genre, but it can lead to repetition as well. There are a lot of elements that spice things up such as upgradable weapons, multiple paths and collectibles you can pick up mid-game but, as hard as it tries, Overkill can’t escape the genre it’s attached too. Fear not though for, provided you can get two Move controllers (which is pretty essential for a light gun game) and a mate involved, the game justifies itself in short bursts.
There is an issue of lifespan as well. The PS3 Extended Cut features more content than its Wii counterpart, something that the original definitely needed. Whilst the game is impressive in its bizarre brand of comedy, its quantity was lacking on Wii. The Extended Cut remedies this, with two new levels (totalling up to nine now), additional weapons and new challenges, but it still isn’t all that long. Granted, you’ll no doubt be going through the game again to try new routes and the more challenging director’s cut mode, but don’t expect it to be an especially long ride. The upside of this is the price of Overkill, with it sitting comfortably below the standard RRP of a new title. It’s not quite bargain bin price, but it represents a fantastic bargain for some quality grind house action.
The main upgrades that really differentiate the two games are in the visuals department. Having originally only been available in standard definition thanks to the Wii’s output deficiencies, the Extended Cut of Overkill is the only way you’ll get to see the game in HD. It looks fairly decent overall, but it is still obvious that it started life as a Wii game. Solid animations are made smoother in 1080p, but the character models and textures feel very last gen; an unfortunate hallmark of any game that began it’s life on the Wii. 3D visuals are also supported and, whilst the new standard of stereoscopic 3D is included, users with standard TVs can also get involved too in Overkill: Extended Cut. The game comes bundled with two pairs of classic cyan and red coloured glasses that let you view the game in the 3D effects of old. This anaglyphic 3D has been a novelty in certain games for years and, whilst it’s an entertaining aside in Overkill, it doesn’t really add a lot to the experience. I found it cool for a few seconds, but washed out colours and severe headaches were two annoying side effects that really broke the deal. I can only assume that the stereoscopic 3D effects are more palatable but, without the necessary equipment, we were unfortunately not able to assess this particular feature in House of the Dead Overkill: Extended Cut.
If you only get to buy one game this month, it’s hard to recommend Overkill: Extended Cut. Those on a budget will most likely feel let down by the retro gameplay and low lifespan. This isn’t to say that Overkill is a bad game though, far from it. It may not offer the most bang for your buck, but Overkill is one of the most classically refreshing and damn right amusing games I’ve experienced for some time, and the Extended Cut is now the best way to enjoy it. If you’re tired of space marines and mediocrity and have a little extra cash to spend, grab yourself a copy of Overkill: Extended Cut. After all, a game that has jokes about a Stephen Hawking look alike, mock blacksploitation and gun-toting strippers in the first hour alone can’t be all bad, right?
Classic arcade shooter action, One of the funniest games around, A unique experience, Great co-op gameplay, Helpfully low price
Graphics look outdated, Anaglyphic 3D effect is rubbish, Can get repetitive, Still not hugely long
The seminal on-rails shooter returns with new content, HD and 3D visuals and the same unique humour that made the Wii original such a cult classic