With Halloween around the corner, it’s the perfect time to review one of my favourite genres of gaming, the old school arcade shooter, with SEGA’s release of The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut. I can’t even begin to remember how many 50p pieces I’ve pumped into the cabinets of games like this in the past, just wanting to play more and more? Well, now SEGA have allowed us to bring the arcade, and with PlayStation Move enabled controls, this title seems a sure fire hit, Right?
You are Agent G and together with your typically clichéd partner Isaac Washington it’s your job to hunt down and kill the evil Papa Caeser. This guy is just terrible, committing lots of crimes and experiments. So, Ok, the story is not Hollywood, but did you expect it? It is House of the Dead after all, the franchise known for silly stories and ludicrous characters, and SEGA know though that we love them and have given us more here.
The controls are very simple, if you’re using the wireless controller you fire with X and reload with square. The crosshair is moved with the left analogue stick. I have to say, however, it’s very hard to follow your crosshair on screen as the analogue stick does not move fast enough to aim where you want. This game is best played using the Move controller and the Playstation Eye camera. You need to calibrate the controller first and then begin playing, the T button is used to shoot while the Move button reloads. The movement is very accurate and you can easily go from one side of the screen to the other. The movements you do are recognised very well and aiming is nice and sharp. It’s very easy to get lots of head-shots and it’s satisfying to. SEGA have definitely incorporated the Move controls very well.
Graphically, Overkill looks decidedly old, however, this I believe is the desired effect as the visuals have a grainy quality to them to purposefully give the effect of an old horror movie. The zombies look nasty and there is a large variation in them, not only in look but attacks. Some move very slowly towards you, some run at a crazy pace, others throw things at you and some just run and dive at you. The different speeds of the zombies make it challenging to shoot them. It’s by no means hard but it’s challenging enough.
The guns look great and they are made with lots of special detail, they look as they are supposed to and the ammunition they use varies as the barrel size various in each weapon. There is the normal AMS Magnum, the hand cannon, the shotgun, automatic shotgun, SMG and the assault rifle to choose from. These can all be upgraded in the gun shop. Upgrades include improvements to recoil, fire rate, clip size, damage and reload, and these all cost cash. I especially enjoyed the ability to have infinite lives, although you have to hand over a lot of your points to buy them. It’s a cool change from having to give 50p each time.
The two player co-op mode is when Overkill is at its best, in my opinion. However, both players will want to use Move controllers as I tried with one controller and one Move controller and found that the player with the wireless controller was at a definite disadvantage. The action is fast and frantic in two player and you can really engage in some co-op zombie killing fun. Your aim is to shoot the crap of out everything and collect the pieces littered around the game. The more hits you get, the more of a combo you build, and hence, the more points you accumulate. Keep going, and you will get a rating of goregasm (yup, that’s what it’s called). At the end of each episode are boss battles, but these are not very hard, some are initially frustrating, but after you figure out the system to beat each boss then the fights are satisfying and gruesome.
The music in Overkill is really good, there are lots of different tracks in the game to listen to and to unlock as well during gameplay (by shooting golden disks). The voice acting is so clichéd, but its good in a bad B-movie way. You can’t help but notice the immense amount of profanity, but I liked it. Probably not a game for kids as the 18 age rating suggests. For mature adults, however, this game will deliver lots of laughs as you listen to the conversations and watch as the characters stumble their way through their lines. The sound of the bullets hitting the zombies is dead on and the screams as they die are haunting.
There are also some mini-games to take part in which can be played with up to four players. There is a game called Victim Support where you have to shoot zombies and allow the civilians escape a prison. This is played in a top down view and really works well. Next, is Staying Alive which is just a horde mode where you survive against every increasing waves on zombies. Money Shot 2 is a target shooting game like the ones you get at carnivals, and again this plays wells with lots of fun to be had. The biggest downside to these mini-games, is that if you play them with with four players, the screen will get very busy and you may lose sight of what you’re doing.
These mini-games do give the game some replay value as do the rewards you can collect playing the main campaign. These rewards include extra mutants, hardcore mode (head shots only), dual wield (a weapon in each hand), shoot the swear word (during conversations you shoot the word and it isn’t said) and classic mode where you can only play with an AMS Magnum gun. There are also lots of collectibles to find during gameplay including comic book pages, jukebox songs, concept art and 3D models.
Overall, The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is a fun game to with played with a buddy. The graphics are very smooth and typical of the House of the Dead series. The acting and script are B-movie style and this gives the game a certain charm which I enjoyed. The mini-games help a bit in replay value and the rewards given after completion should be enough to have you play through this game at least twice. SEGA have successfully made a fun Move-enabled game in keeping with the franchise. Shoot the crap out of them zombies and give yourself a treat this Halloween.
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