Special Agent G is given his first assignment fresh out of the AMS academy. Teamed up with hard-boiled Detective Washington, they are sent to investigate stories of mysterious disappearances... Read allSpecial Agent G is given his first assignment fresh out of the AMS academy. Teamed up with hard-boiled Detective Washington, they are sent to investigate stories of mysterious disappearances in small-town Louisiana. Little do they know what blood-soaked mutant depravity awaits th... Read allSpecial Agent G is given his first assignment fresh out of the AMS academy. Teamed up with hard-boiled Detective Washington, they are sent to investigate stories of mysterious disappearances in small-town Louisiana. Little do they know what blood-soaked mutant depravity awaits them in the streets and swamps of Bayou City.
The filmic flavour extends to the presentation of the games levels, as each chapter is presented as a possible movie in itself: "Papa's Palace of Pain" (clever alliteration and the only 'house' level in the game), "Ballistic Trauma" (a goofy mix of mutants, firepower and a hospital. Here, the reference to Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" is more than subtle). The given scenarios range well, and we're given trains, carnivals, prisons and other video game staples, yet unlike every other entry in the House of the Dead series, the range of enemies in the game is stunningly limited. Mutants (not Zombies, as the game itself stresses through its voice-over dialogue) are overwhelming the most common of enemies. These are represented by a handful of character models and are re-used throughout the entire game. Granted, they are fairly well modelled, but I can't help but think how much more interesting things may have been with some more location-specific mutant creatures.
Unlike other titles in the House of the Dead series, 'Overkill asks little of the players' dexterity. Enemy after enemy stagger towards the player from the centre of the screen – while this may be more realistic behaviour, it makes little challenge for the player. Ninety percent of enemies are shot at close-to-mid range, and their behaviours vary little. Occasionally, one or two of them get creative and (gasp!) throw a bottle or knife, but these are easily dismissed with a single shot. In other words, the game has a limited variety of action. I find this baffling, as the game is 'on-rails' (no free-movement), and so particular creativity and care is required to hold interest in what could otherwise be classified as a very repetitive game play premise: (aim, shoot, reload ad infinitum). Titles such as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and even the House of the Dead release mentioned earlier make efforts to challenge aiming, speed, pattern recognition, timing. 'Overkill only grazes past these concepts, rather going for a higher-body count and bigger calibres together. This approach is fine for the short-term, but modern gamers often require more than this.
There's talk of 'Overkill having issues with its frame-rate and responsiveness. I want to confirm that these problems certainly do exist. Again, I find this baffling, and can only chalk it up to lack of experience on part of the development team. Of course, it does not ruin the experience, but it certainly undermines it, especially when much simpler and less ambitious titles have perfected frame rate issues. Hell, even a launch title "Rayman Raving Rabbids" had smooth and responsive on-rails first-person-shooter sections. I'm not sure what could have caused this stuttering effect that the game suffers from, but it certainly harms the experience.
Musically, the title is both varied and confusing. A lot of effort has gone into providing a soundtrack to the experience, and for the most part it is suitable. Other times, you find yourself distracted, as if the developers wanted you to feel simultaneously frightened and amused – a near impossibility. Killing mutants in grotesque, half-dark environments could be scary, but doing it to an absurd funk song is confusing. It elevates the experience almost to a parody and seems to land the game somewhere between a nerve-wracking scare-fest and a silly shooting gallery mini-game. Audio effects are good for the most part, with loud shot-gun blasts and mutant screams. Strangely, the voice-overs from the two protagonists are mixed unevenly. Washington (the detective based lazily on characters such as Shaft and Jules Winnfield) spouts his garbage loudly and clearly, whereas Agent G's conversed rational and sensible comments are often mixed under the music, resulting in a poor, mumbled reproduction. On another note, it is never explained why these two are put together, and even more ludicrously, it is never shown or explained which of these two men you play as! I find particularly irritating for some reason.
I could go on about the games goofy monetary and reward system, it's depressingly easy level bosses, and it's amazingly shallow mini-game set, but I don't think it's that necessary. For those looking for a major body harvest, this is the game for you. Just be warned that the kills are inversely proportion to the games variety and replay ability.
- May 17, 2011