The House of the Dead: Overkill review
Is it an Overkill of the genre, or of the player's patience?
- Like with many other rail-shooters on the Wii, Overkill has very precise and functional controls.
- The graphics are detailed on the enemy and level models while also being creative with the old film-like screen effects.
- The sound track is catchy and well fitting for the grind-house, hardly serious feel of the game overall.
- Voice acting is well-done during cut-scenes and in-game dialog and always either fits the mood or garners a laugh. Usually both.
- The weapons are well-varied, balanced, have a strong upgrading system, and are all fun to use depending on your play style.
- Bosses are, while a bit too easy, satisfying to fight and capture the over-the-top feeling of House of the Dead: Overkill quite nicely.
- The scoring and high scores system is easy to understand and well implemented.
- There are mini-games to play when you need a break from the game's main campaign.
- The actual gameplay is gory, satisfying, and just as much of a blast as the previous games in the series.
- The story is, while completely insane and at times disturbing, funny to say the least and is never too serious.
- There are a large variety of extras to view and they are all unlocked via in-game achievements.
- While the game has solid presentation overall, the actual technical issues and bugs are far too common for a game that requires you to replay its levels for extended play value. There are simply too many glitches and odd technical issues to count, starting with disappearing enemies and power ups from levels.
- The money system is terrible, broken, and complicated to say the least. There is no in-game explanation for how it works so be sure to read where I address it later.
- The game is too short even for a rail shooter.
- At first the game is a little too challenging, especially for new-comers, but then once you upgrade your weapons properly after a few levels it quickly becomes far too easy.
- The auto shotgun is far too broken, simply overpowering every other weapon in scoring potential and overall effectiveness.
House of the Dead: Overkill follows the story of two law enforcement officers, Detective Issac Washington and Agent G. Together they fight to survive a mutant apocalypse while trying to find the answer behind all the monsters. That really is the entire story in a nut shell.
This leads me to a my point that this game does not take itself too seriously at all. Every cut scene and practically every line of dialog is either funny or so over-the-top offensive that you almost want to call it that. It does a great job of sticking with the grind-house parody vibe and never seems to stray from this cliched comedy idea.
The actual gameplay itself is enjoyable to say the least. You'll be blowing through zombies for the entire game with multiple different weapons and it never stops being satisfying or seems to get repetitive. The weapons themselves are fun and balanced (the only exception being the auto shotgun which is simply overpowered beyond belief) and the upgrading system is a nice addition.
The difficulty in this game, however, is somewhat all over the place. The game starts off pretty difficult at first, maybe even a little too much so, but proceeds to get a little too easy once you've upgraded even one weapon to its fullest.
Another problem I've noticed is this game has quite a lot of technical issues. It seems a lack of proper bug testing has led to some problems like game freezes, invulnerable enemies, disappearing power-ups, small frame-rate drops and hiccups, etc. that are, while more common for some players than others, frustrating when you keep in mind how many times your forced to play through them as most of the play value to this game lies in its re-playability.
Once your done with story mode you can play through director's cut mode which is simply a replay of the entire game but this time with some added areas in the levels. One main problem with the game is how short it is overall, even for an on rails shooter. On average, completing the story mode will take a measly 2 hours or so and completing directors cut will take just as long if not a tiny bit longer. Combined the game can take under 5 hours to beat. The only upside is the fact that there are three four-player mini games outside of the games campaign, extending the games life just a little.
The main problem with this game, however, lies in the money system. It is just terrible and overcomplicated. Here's how it works:
In the game there are achievements that can be earned after completing each level, such as "beat your highest score" or "kill 50 zombies gangsta style". The amount of money earned at the end of each stage is based off of rewards for these achievements. You can only get money this way and each achievement only gives you money the first time you do them (beating your high score is the only exception to this rule). This means there is no way to grind/farm for cash and that as the game goes on it gets harder and harder to earn cash as you run out of achievements to use. Even worse is that all money, weapons, and upgrades are kept completely separate in story mode and director's cut mode (meaning when you start director's cut mode all you have no additional money or weapons). However, achievements do not reset when you start DC mode, meaning you are forced to use whatever achievements are left over after story mode for money. This is a terrible system that basically punishes you for doing good in story mode by forcing you to play the game horribly until you get to directors cut just so you'll have enough achievements left over to sustain you through that play through. Sounds complicated? I just went over the absolute basics.
House of the Dead Overkill is a flawed game on the account of several technical issues, a very short campaign, and an abysmal money system. However, like the games before it, killing mutants is still an absolute blast and the overall enjoyment you'll get from the game-play it self almost excuse the many problems the game has. I recommend renting it at least.
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