Game Review: The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut
Release: October 25th, 2011
Genre: On-Rails Arcade Shooter
Developer: Headstrong Games
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3
ESRB Rating: Mature
Website: House of the Dead Overkill Extended Cut
Gather around arcade shooter fans and PlayStation Move owners, SEGA and Headstrong Games have brought us a new brain splattering delight with: ‘The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut.’ Fans of the 1970’s grind house films, or the Rodriguez and Tarantino reboot should read on as well, this game might be right up your alley. Being a remake of the well received Wii title from 2009, this version brings us two new levels, new weapons, classic and hardcore modes, online leader boards, new collectables items and trophies, 3D gaming support, and HD graphics. It’s modestly priced, features a good amount of content for you to explore and unlock, and is simply a great game to pick up and start having fun with right away. On rails shooters are rarely seen these days, but is this one really worth your time and money?
In House of the Dead: Overkill (Extended Cut…) you follow the story of the proudly misogynist, F-bomb spouting police detective: Isaac Washington, and his reluctant partner ‘Agent G,’ as they blast their way through an endless ocean of blood thirsty mutants. Yes, apparently we are shooting mutants in this game, not Zombies. Other characters include the fearless, shotgun wielding stripper: Varla Gunns, and her ditsy sidekick Candi Stryper. And yes, the tits DO bounce. The game never takes itself too seriously for one minute, and if it’s your first time hearing it, some of the dialogue and in-game commentary can be absolutely hilarious. You really feel like you are caught in the middle of an over the top, grind house horror movie, plus the gore effects can be extremely satisfying.
The game’s story mode features nine levels, each with its own boss fight and unique setting, but it can all be completed in one or two lengthy play sessions. Aside from the charging mutants (aka zombies), you will also be prompted to shoot other glowing items such as health kits, collectible comic books and audio tracks, or stacks of money that let you buy new guns and weapon upgrades later on. After beating the basic story mode, you unlock the ‘director’s cut’ version of the story, which features different enemies and new challenges for you to play through. Unlocking and trying out new guns on old levels can be a satisfying experience, and it also gives you are good reason to keep at it, long after your first play through.
Aside from the story mode, House of the Dead Overkill also features three addictive mini games that can be a blast to play with friends (and perhaps a few beers), which are arguably the best part of the game. ‘Money Shot II’ has you shoot at passing red and blue targets in a carnival style game, ‘Stayin’ Alive’ challenges you to survive as long as you can as you are pitted against an ever-increasing horde of enemies, while ‘Victim Support’ (my personal favorite) has each player (up to 4) protect their own group of civilians from hordes of mutants. They can be great party games, but purchasing multiple Move controllers can be a costly venture. Also, if everyone wants to have their own Sharp Shooter (which is really what I would recommend playing this with), that adds another burden to the price tag. But with monetary concerns aside, four players blasting away on a giant HD screen would be a ton of fun.
The thing I enjoyed most about this game was its fast paced play style. I loved how I could just come home from work, turn it on, and start having fun right away. While I enjoyed using my sharpshooter for games like Killzone 3 and Resistance 3, the navigation always took a long time to truly get the hang of, and they were much more involved. House of the Dead Overkill: Extended Cut, with its simple, on-rails, shoot em’ up style, stays true that SEGA staple of nostalgic arcade fun; which posses a learning curve more akin to a ten degree slope. Also, in contrast with the Kinect games I have played (Child of Eden and Gunstringer), this game was satisfying in terms of the precision. You pull the trigger, something happens. No gesture confusion, no lag. Plus, playing while sitting down is actually a viable option, and there is far less elbow strain.
My complaints mainly have to do with repetition, simplicity, and a lack of originality. While most of these issues are perhaps justified by the game’s price, they are still worth pointing out. One of the first things that I noticed was the lack of variety in the enemy models. Boss fights aside, throughout the game, you will be blasting away at one of the following: the fat mutant, the female mutant, or the average bodied male mutant. You might see some racial variations or costume changes from time to time, but that’s about it. Textures are flat, and in spite of the higher resolution, or possible 3D effects, depending on your gaming set up, you can still tell this is a Wii game at heart. Level design is about what you would expect, but in spite of the changes in scenery, each level plays just like the one before it. Open the door, shoot the guys, go down hall, shoot the guys, go up stairs, shoot the guys. I understand that this is an on rails shooter, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be more variety and creativity on the design end (not referring to the game’s story or characters). Lastly, I was disappointed with the enemy animations, as they didn’t seem to have much of a response to being shot aside from having their head blow up or falling to the ground. But again, for the price, it’s hard to complain.
In closing, I wouldn’t say this is a game you should rush out and buy a PlayStation Move for, but it can still be a lot of fun. If, however, you already own or were thinking of purchasing a Move set up, then this is a great title to add to your library. Zombie blasting is still just as fun as it was at the arcade’s and movie theaters, and if you missed out on the 2009 release of this game, this is a great chance to catch up. Boss fights are good fun, the mini games are addictive, and just like any good arcade style game, it has great replay value.
+ Fast paced, addictive gameplay, fun boss fights
+ Funny cast of characters, good soundtrack
+ Lots of guns and features to unlock, good replay value
– Repetitive, lacks variety
– Levels all feel the same, still a Wii game
Final Score: 8/10