Finally bit the bullet and bought a Wii this week. I was prepared to start reviewing a never ending stream of ‘family oriented’ games, but thought I’d start with something a little more ‘mature’, so I picked up House of the Dead: Overkill.
After an opening credit sequence/cinematic that featured a scantily clad go-go dancer and metric ton of f-bombs, I knew I wasn’t playing a game intended for a family gathering.
WARNING: This review contains use of potentially offensive language. If you’re bothered by that sort of thing, skip the review, and most definitely skip this game.
Full story after the break.
The first line of dialog HotD:O greets you with?
It never lets up after that. The language in this game is so over-the-top offensive that it’s hilarious at the beginning, but starts to grate on your nerves after a while. There are some genuinely funny moments that use this unleashed barrage of salty vernacular though, and it works most of the time. An example from the opening cinematic (which is styled after a 70’s exploitation film trailer):
VOICEOVER: ‘Don’t get him mad or he’ll rip your balls off!’
WASHINGTON: ‘I am going to rip your motherfucking balls off!’
I almost yelled at the screen ‘MACHETE!’, and in fact the look and feel of HotD brings to mind Robert Rodriguez’ homage to grindhouse exploitation films ‘Planet Terror’, complete with visual filters that add scratches, dust, jump cuts, and flares from overexposed frames.
The soundtrack is a creepy little mix of styles centering around a central theme of Bad Zombie Movie. Rob Zombie would be right at home in this game.
The story is thin, has enormous plot holes, and can safely be ignored… you came to this game looking for action, not words. Am I right? That’s exactly what you’re going to get.
At it’s most basic level, HotD does nothing new, you’re on rails, you shoot stuff before it can get to you. Once in a while you find a power-up, there’s a boss battle, or you have to save an innocent bystander without hitting them with friendly fire.
The addition of RPG elements, like the ability to purchase better weapons, or increase the fire rate of the gun you’re using… that’s pretty cool. But in the end you’re getting exactly what you’d expect. If you’ve played Time Crisis, Area 51, or any other in the long line of light gun games (I’m a fan), then you know what you’re getting into.
We’ve seen this all before, just rarely with such style. However, there are some ugly things about the game.
First of all, there are some framerate problems. It’s not so much that it will ruin the experience for you, but it’s noticeable. Few things are more frustrating than missing a power-up or crucial headshot because the game paused momentarily.
Second, the RPG elements I mentioned earlier? While they ARE a nice addition, it’s makes it entirely too easy to grind through the first level a few times, spend your points on upgrading your weapons, then blow through the rest of the game without much of a challenge. The difficulty just doesn’t ramp up fast enough to match the weapons you can unlock. Once you’ve got the automatic shotgun (which doesn’t take long), it just becomes a wet, pulpy, romp of mass destruction. Not that killing sprees are a BAD thing in a game like this, just wish that the curve to get to that point was a little steeper.
Another little annoyance: the game locks up. Not frequently, but it does lock the entire system once in a while. It’s happened to me three times, each time sending my Wii-motes into a vibrating frenzy (I play two-fisted, a gun in each hand) and sending a high pitched squeal through my home theater that will loosen fillings and deafen dogs for miles around. The only way to get it to stop is to completely unplug the console. Again, this didn’t happen very often, but when it does… you’ll know it immediately.
Unlimited Continues have been added to this version of the game, they just cost you half your points each time you use one. Since your score at the end of a level determines how much cash you earn towards weapon upgrades, you don’t want to abuse it… but this does make it easy to blow through the game in a few hours (it’s pretty short).
The developers have also thrown in a handful of mini-games for up to four players, and it’s nice to have the extra content, but they didn’t thrill me that much. Your mileage may vary.
Overall, if you like the stylistic approach they’ve taken, aren’t freaked out by language, strippers, or other ‘adult’ content, and you like light-gun games… I’d call this a buy. You’ll like it.
If any of the above has you worried in the slightest? Don’t bother, you’ll just be horrified, offended, and you’ll be tempted to write a letter to your congressional representative.
None of us want that.
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