Giant Bomb Review

26 Comments

The House of the Dead: OVERKILL Review

3
  • PS3

Snappy support for the PlayStation Move makes it easier to appreciate the loving grindhouse aesthetics stitched over this otherwise familiar light-gun shooter.

Can I interest you nice folks in some wholesome, farm-fresh BRAINS???

I’ll admit, when it originally launched on the Wii in 2009, I was quick to dismiss House of the Dead: OVERKILL. I was immediately taken with the game’s exploitation sensibility, and how much of a departure it was from the badly translated Nippo-Gothic monster mash of your usual House of the Dead. After one level, though, the swimmy sense of lag that the Wii Remote introduced proved a high enough barrier to keep me from wanting to dig any further. Trappings aside, it was an old-fashioned, by-the-books zombie shoot, with all the pop-up zombies, blind corners, and carpal-tunnel-aggravating gunplay that entails.

The guts of the thing remain unchanged in House of the Dead: OVERKILL Extended Cut, but swapping out the Wii Remote for the remarkably more responsive PlayStation Move controller makes all the difference in the world. (The game can, theoretically, be played with a standard DualShock controller, but come on. If that’s how you’re going to be, I’m done trying to talk to you like a reasonable person.) OVERKILL is still a fundamentally shopworn experience, but it’s a game you can now cruise through to savor the grit and gristle of the sights and sounds.

Sure, OVERKILL owes just about every profane, mutilated ounce of personality it’s got to the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez Grindhouse double feature, from the lint-lashed policy trailers and lurid XXX warnings to the crass characterizations of rule-book-burning renegade cops and revenge-fueled strippers--hell, even the narrator, whose guttural delivery makes every forced alliteration sound lewd. But the very fact that OVERKILL hits so many of those little details with such perfect pitch makes it work. That said, OVERKILL’s characters--and indeed, certain machinations of the plot itself--are scaldingly misogynistic and foul-mouthed. Were the tongue not planted firmly in cheek, it might be genuinely offensive. Even as it stands, the hail of “fucks” and “motherfuckers” has a numbing effect within the first few levels. It’s not even creative cursing, though the game provides enough self-aware moments of clarity to let you know that it, too, knows just how filthy and juvenile it is.

I'm gonna need to see some ID. Also, your BRAINS.

Each chapter is framed as its own red-light tale of terror, trauma, and titillation, and these introductions can be an obscene joy. They also serve as locations changes for the starring quartet of dirtbaggy weirdos (including Agent G, the game’s only explicit, inexplicable tie to House of the Dead of yore) as they chase the evil kingpin responsible for the current outbreak of flesh-hunger and freaky monsterism through a plantation house, strip bar, slaughterhouse, carnival, swamp, and so on. The game’s overall structure is established in the first level--cutscene, shooting, cutscene, boss fight--and then adhered to slavishly for the eight subsequent levels. Though the bosses tend towards graphic, plus-sized grotesqueries, most of the game is spent cruising along the path provided, popping gaggles of garden-variety shamblers over and over.

OVERKILL is also bursting at the seams with collectibles, and it seems like you can’t walk down a hallway without spotting gold records, posters, comic books, grenades, piles of cash, slow-mo power-ups, and first-aid kits. In between levels, you can also upgrade your standard handgun and unlock a whole armory of shotguns, assault rifles, submachine guns, and the more exotic. As much as these baubles and upgrades might ring your bell, OVERKILL’s snotty, deliberate abuse of the expletive and the sheer repetitive exhaustion of pulling that trigger over and over again make it a game for sprints, not marathons. If you don’t spread the three-or-so hours it takes to see the story your first time through over a couple of play sessions, you will burn out fast.

Have we mentioned? We fucking LOVE brains.

If your first run through OVERKILL somehow left you hungry for more, you’ll have unlocked the Director’s Cut of the story mode by then, though the appeal of a slightly longer version of the game you just finished is a little elusive to me. There’s a trio of minigames that are good for about one play a piece. A fistful of bulletpoints differentiate the Extended Cut from the original release of OVERKILL, including a couple bonus levels, some new weapons, and a handful of oddball gameplay modifiers, though some of that content is oddly buried. The most significant differences are inherent to the shift from the Wii to the PlayStation 3, with the visuals and the controls receiving a noticeable bump in fidelity. This is clearly the better version of OVERKILL, but I’m not convinced that it’s better enough to warrant a second purchase for those that already played it on the Wii.

House of the Dead: OVERKILL Extended Cut so relishes wallowing in its own filth, that at a point it’s easy to start questioning whether the stuff that’s terrible about it is that way on purpose. (Spoiler: some of it is, some of it isn’t.) It’s the most shameful of guilty pleasures, brain-dead and proud of it, best suited for those with a lust for the minutiae of cinema's seedier side.

26 Comments
Posted by sl1ppyfist

nice

Posted by Milkman

Review: Yeah, it's kind of cool but it's still a light gun game.

Posted by krabboss

I couldn't get into it back when I played it on the Wii. Light gun games aren't much fun for me, I guess. I also didn't find the writing to be very funny.

Posted by zombie2011

Lost interest in light gun games a long time ago, this looked cool though. I'm still not going to play it.

Posted by RE_Player1

I'm getting this when the price drops.

Posted by byterunner

....It's been a while since I played this game, but I really don't remember any wii mote lag...otherwise, good review Ryan.

Posted by Crushed

The Wii version used pointer controls, which aren't really affected by lag. The Move controller really doesn't improve over that aspect, it just has much better tilt and gyro sensitivity... which Overkill didn't use. In fact, a lot of people think the pointing on Move (which uses a different system) is a bit swimmier than the Wiimote. Calling placebo effect on this.

Posted by beard_of_zeus

Thanks for the review, Ryan. I thought the grindhouse trappings from the QL were pretty funny, and light gun games are one of my guilty pleasures. Plus I could use another Move game to play!
 
Amazon has this for only 30 bucks right now, so I think I'll grab a copy.

Posted by Pabba

Light gun games are odd. I feel like I can only play them in an arcade...15 years ago.

Edited by bybeach

I enjoy this kind of thing,,but am dicey about the lightgun aspect of it. I'll think about it, but it just may end up a silly double purchase. With some kind of fake gun for the move controller of course..and I'm a hippy and all, gawd!

Edit- no, I'd need the navigation controller I think also..too much/seemed neat though

Posted by tourgen

I'm so happy that the grindhouse feel comes through so well. Having a few beers and shooting some zombies sounds like and alright way to pass some time.

Posted by bunnymud

I just wish I didn't already own it on the Wii

Posted by Hot_Karl

I got this in the mail from Amazon today (for $30!), and I'm loving it.

Could be because I love lightgun games (especially House of the Dead 2- probably one of my favorite games ever) and Grindhouse, but it does what it needs to, it runs well, the 3D support is neat and it's fun in short bursts. Basically, you have your mind up on whether you want this game or not, and if you're already planning on buying it, go for it. You'll dig it a ton.

Posted by Romination

You had problems with the Wii remote? I've beaten that game like 5 times and I feel like it's pretty perfect.

@Milkman said:

Review: Yeah, it's kind of cool but it's still a light gun game.

The best example of this is the Dead Space Extraction review.

Posted by Abyssion

A question for Ryan and anyone else playing this game using the Move, did you use a gun shell different from the Sharpshooter or the Sharpshooter itself? If so, how did it play with those and what is your favorite light gun shell for the Move? Thanks!

Edited by Bacon

@Crushed: Yeah, it was pretty much just Ryan not giving the game a fair chance since it was a Wii game.

They're also misinformed about Motion Plus adding better IR sensitivity, which it doesn't.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Milkman said:

Review: Yeah, it's kind of cool but it's still a light gun game.

At some point, that is the review of any light gun game of a decent quality. Like the Beat em' up, it's a genre that is almost inherently based around the arcade format, and thus will never be anything other than "Enjoyable in short bursts". Even the stuff made specifically for consoles has that problem. Still, if I was a person who owned a Move, I would probably get this.

Posted by kalmis

Played the Wii game so I am good.

Posted by Vinnie_Ton

I played this to death on the Wii, and can confirm there is definitely NO "swimmy sense of lag" on the Wii version.

Posted by Eyz

I LOVED this game on the wii! Then again, I'm personally a huge arcade games fan.

Guess it's not for your average RPGs fanboys.

Great way to catch on this game, the remade/added content is sure a nice add.

Posted by nemt

I can't help but notice the dogs of the AMS haven't made a move in this.

Edited by Torrim

I know you guys mentioned it in the quick look, any confirmation on if the Wii version has less lag with a motion plus? I don't have two move controllers but I do have two Wiimotes with motion plus...

Posted by nmarchan

@Torrim said:

I know you guys mentioned it in the quick look, any confirmation on if the Wii version has less lag with a motion plus? I don't have two move controllers but I do have two Wiimotes with motion plus...

Motion plus doesn't make a difference except in games where designed specifically for M+. It doesn't have much effect on gameplay for light gun games in any case, as Motion Plus is about registering motions you make and has nothing to do with how the Wii remote's infrared sensor reads the sensor bar. At most I've seen it used to smooth cursor movement a bit, an example of which you can see in Red Steel 2. There was nothing wrong with the Wii controls for the first one in any case. Maybe Ryan's controller wasn't calibrated correctly or something, because lag was never a problem for me.

The review also makes no mention of the game's combo-based scoring system which leads to the "Goregasm" mode (complete with ridiculous waving American flag), so I wonder if Ryan even knew about it. Judging by the two Quick Looks we've had of this game, everybody just dumps rounds all over the place and that's it. The whole thing is, you should try to build up your combo meter, which drops when you get hit or when you miss shots. Watch the quick look, and take a look at the revolver gun chamber at the top of each player's UI. When you see bullets fill the chamber, that's counting up towards the next level of the combo meter. If you completely fill the chamber it levels up and you get more points per kill. Level up enough and you reach goregasm mode.

The thing with the collectibles is supposed to be risk/reward. You can take a shot at getting that collectible, but if you miss it drains your combo meter. More combo meter = more points = more cash between levels to buy new weapons and upgrades.

Yeah, if you're just shooting all over the place every second, the game could get boring. So, you know, don't do that.

Posted by Akel

it's been five years and people still don't understand the basics of wii technology?

the IR pointer, with a good setup of distance/no interference, is pretty much flawless. however, I think that overkill on the wii probably had some performance lag/fps drops in certain spots...and that would lead to a laggy feeling overall.

Posted by Curufinwe

@Bacon said:

@Crushed: Yeah, it was pretty much just Ryan not giving the game a fair chance since it was a Wii game.

They're also misinformed about Motion Plus adding better IR sensitivity, which it doesn't.

Yeah, it's kind of sad how little effort they put into getting their facts straight.

Posted by BisonHero

Again, Ryan's weird insistence that the Wii version had a "swimmy sense of lag". As others earlier in these comments have already pointed out, the lag is imaginary.

The review really should've focused more on the graphical improvements and additional levels, seeing as those are the significant differences between this and the Wii version. The differences in controller precision aren't even worth mentioning, seeing as there are none.

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