If there's one genre in particular that's experienced a bit of a renaissance since the introduction of the Wii, it's the on-rails light gun shooter. Games like Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return have proven to sell well on Nintendo's little white box, so it seems only natural that Sega would try to go after that audience again with an all-new game. Thus we have Headstrong Games' House of the Dead: Overkill.
Overkill is structured much like any standard on-rails shooter. The player has no control over movement through the levels and must simply focus on blowing away wave after wave of undead mutant. Items such as first-aid kits, grenades, and golden brains that unlock gallery content can be shot in order to collect them. A boss fight caps each stage, though these fights aren't particularly difficult since the game draws large red circles around active enemy weakpoints. Like other Wii on-rails shooters, the Wii Remote is used as the gun, and the cursor speed and responsiveness works well. There are also a few enemies that will latch onto you, forcing you to shake them off by shaking the Wii Remote.
If there's one real knock against the game, and this is the case with most on-rails shooters, it's that it's short. The story mode can be played to completion in well under three hours the first time through. The game was designed with replaying for high scores and unlockables in mind, and in that sense, there's enough content to keep a House of the Dead fan satisfied. Beating the game once unlocks a Director's Cut mode which remixes the levels by including branching pathways, and beating Director's Cut unlocks a Dual-Wielding mode that allows one player to play the game by wielding two Wii Remotes. Individual stages can be replayed for higher scores, and money earned can be used to purchase and upgrade guns.
The House of the Dead: Overkill isn't revolutionary, but it is a fun game. The grindhouse motif is pulled off well and gives the game a unique look and feel compared to other titles in the genre, and whether you're looking to kill some time with friends or hunt for a high score, it provides good entertainment in quick doses. Most people will probably be satisfied with a rental, but fans of the series or the genre in general will probably find it a worthy purchase.