There's a stigma among gamers that video games aren't as funny as they used to be. Considering this generation's emphasis on realism and gritty action, players are often forced to look to older titles such as Monkey Island in order to get their share of giggles.
However, with House of the Dead: Overkill, SEGA and Headstrong games have proved that funny games do still exist. The question is then, how does it actually play?
As a remake of the 2009 Wii title, House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut has a lot to prove, especially considering it launched on the same day as Battlefield 3, and just two weeks before Modern Warfare 3. Luckily, the title is able to stand on its own - thanks to its rough-around-the-edges charm.
Overkill makes use of a Grindhouse-like tone to separate itself from the pack, and while one could argue that Grindhouse has become cliched in recent years, it makes for plenty of laughs in this particular title. The grainy art style really pops in HD, and though the graphics are a dated they in no way hold the game back. The only real issue with the visuals is a handful of glitches - sometimes items in the environment will disappear entirely. Some players may chalk this up to the Grindhouse experience but frustrating glitches aren't acceptable this late in the PS3's life cycle - especially when the game in question is a remake of a less than graphically demanding title.
Keeping with the Grindhouse theme, Overkill also uses plenty of cliches and over the top humor to keep the audience laughing. There's more than enough vulgarity to be had, and anyone who is a fan of sexual, explicit and sometimes offensive humor will find plenty of enjoyment in House of the Dead: Overkill. Whether players are watching a stereotypical cop drop f-bombs between every word or fighting alongside a stripper in a leg brace, there are plenty of laughs to be had. To give a more detailed example of the game's humor would do a disservice to anyone interested in actually playing the title - which is a credit to just how well written the dialogue is.
The original House of the Dead: Overkill was a pretty funny game, and thankfully the gameplay holds up on the PS3. As an on rails shooter the gameplay is admittedly simplistic - players line up their cross hairs and shoot zombies - err, mutants - on screen. To keep things interesting there are also plenty of unlockables to collect throughout the game, such as new audio tracks and pages of a comic book. Players can also find slow motion power ups, extra cash and health packs throughout the environment. All of this offers plenty of variety to what could have been a boring and straightforward experience.
Make no mistake, simple doesn't necessarily mean easier. Taking damage isn't that difficult to accomplish in Overkill, and players who aren't careful will see the game over screen quite frequently. Even then, getting an S rank in all of the levels takes plenty of patience and precision, which includes completing all of the challenges and maintaining, a respectable combo. Simply put, while many will be able to plow through the main story in two or three sittings, to actually achieve full completion is another task entirely.
Surprisingly enough, House of the Dead: Overkill is actually a game that plays better with the PlayStation Move. Even those accustomed to the Dualshock will find that the Move is the better alternative - as it offers enhanced precision over the standard controller. With the Dualshock, players will find that the crosshairs have a tendency to jump. While this is a tactic used to make up for the controller's inherit latency, it can cause issues -especially in moments where precision is essential. In Overkill, precision comes in handy when trying attain the aforementioned collectibles and also when trying to maintain a combo. For every six mutants killed, players will receive bonus cash, which can later be used to unlock or upgrade weapons. Players will lose the combo if they take damage or miss too many shots, so precision is an absolute must for this game. Overkill is in no way unplayable without the Move, but it does hinder the experience.
In terms of weaponry, the guns in Overkill are pretty standard fair. There are two pistols, a sub machine gun, an assault rifle, and an automatic shotgun, as well as one other weapon that is unlocked by completing the game. These weapons can be upgraded in many ways, such as through clip size or decreased reload time. Upgrades do come in handy when trying to maintain a combo, though the cost of weapons and upgrades can be pricey so players should expect plenty of grinding, especially if they're trying to snag the trophies that require weapon upgrades.
For fans of couch co-op, Overkill also comes with the option to play two player split screen. Thankfully, players do not share scores or combos so those playing with a less than accurate partner need not worry about being dragged down. What didn't make the cut, surprisingly, seems to be any inclusion of online co-op. Headstrong does offer online leader boards, making it pretty strange that any form of online play was not implemented. It shouldn't have been too difficult to include a P2P two player matchmaking system, leaving one to wonder why SEGA and Headstrong did not feel it was worth the effort.
Still, the game does offer plenty of content that should keep many players entertained. After playing through the original story mode, gamers can take part in the PS3 exclusive Director's Cut levels, which offer lengthier versions of the Story Mode levels, including new paths and more enemies. There are also a handful of minigames and hidden collectibles for players to find. If that's not enough, players can activate cheats to keep the gameplay fresh, including more on screen mutants, dual wield weapons, and a headshots only mode.
For those who own the Wii version, there isn't much to see here. The Director's Cut levels certainly add something, but it probably isn't enough to justify a second purchase unless you're a hardcore trophy hunter.
For those who have heard of House of the Dead: Overkill but missed out on the Wii version, Extended Cut is hands down the definitive version of the title. With bonus content, HD graphics, as well as 3D and Move support, House of the Dead Overkill Extended Cut is absolutely a game worth checking out. For those looking for a great game to add to their Move repertoire, or those looking for a silly but fun time, House of the Dead is a no brainer.
The House of The Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is available now on the PlayStation 3.
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