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House of the Dead: Overkill Review

geoff_hunt By:
GENRE Shooter 
DEVELOPER Headstrong Games 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language

What do these ratings mean?

[Expletive deleted] of the [expletive deleted]: [expletive deleted]

What can you say about a game where characters climb back into their mutant mother’s fallopian tube? Seriously, what am I supposed to do with that? I can’t top that! All I can really do is put the game in a display somewhere high, and point.

click to enlargeHouse of the Dead: Overkill is a straightforward rail-shooter. You know, like every other Wii game these days. [Unless it's a mini-game collection. Same diff, though. ~Ed.]  It’s hard to talk about with a straight face, really, so bear with me here.

As games go, Overkill is somewhere above Butts Up and below Resident Evil 4, trending closer to the Butts Up side of the fence. Playing the game requires little more than a pulse at times, and at others, requires such finely tuned aim and reflexes that some perfectionist shooter fans would be cursing almost as much as the game’s characters.

Zombies – excuse me, ‘mutants’ – creep onto the screen from wacky angles so that they’re only visible a moment or two before they start killing you. They’ll also come stumbling straight at you in the center of the screen, making an easy bullet sponge. After a while, it becomes clear that if perfection is your goal, the only thing that will really help you is memorizing the approaches in each chapter. Fortunately, you can take a hefty amount of damage before going down for the count, and generally you will only be in danger if you stop pressing the B button on your Wii-mote for more than ten seconds.

The game is actually short – you can probably play through it in a night if you’re willing to sit through that much concentrated cussing. Nevertheless, the game covers an amusing variety of scenes, and little touches keep things fresh in each level – the mutants keep changing appropriately enough to their locales, with nurses outfits in hospitals and clown outfits in carnivals, etcera, etcera.

click to enlargeApart from your typical handgun, the game also lets you pick up shotguns and assault rifles – each new weapon is upgradeable in much the same way that guns in the recent Resident Evil games are, only without creepy pirate merchants. Unfortunately, when you get to infinite ammo assault rifles, the game goes from “so easy that a kid having an epileptic seizure will probably win” to “why isn’t this just a series of cutscenes?”

In terms of characters and plot… well, what can I really say… this is the House of the Dead version of grindhouse movies. It really isn’t terribly different than the old House of the Dead games in terms of literal occurrences, but the style, the dialogue, the voice acting – everything in terms of presentation is done in a wildly different manner. And Overkill does at least things in an entertaining way, too. You will have a number of amazing things to look forward to, including (but not limited to):

- Bouncing boobs
- Limbs being blown off
- A bad-ass with a cane who slaps a quadriplegic across the face with said cane
- Intense discussions on music in an ice cream truck
- Bog monsters
- Executions
- More Mutha-F's than a popular rap star’s latest world tour
- 70s funk in yo’ junk, and maybe yo’ trunk

click to enlargeThe game is passable in co-op – one might argue, only in co-op – but should not really be held up as a gold standard for what co-op games should be. There’s no pressing need for a co-op player (unlike in Resident Evil 5), but it does make things much simpler when you have another guy shooting mutant faces alongside you.

All things considered, House of the Dead: Overkill is an amazingly funny game. It’s not actually good, but it manages to fail in such a stylish, over-the-top way that it’s endearing all the same. Although you’ll probably have no real desire to replay the game ever again upon completion, it’s a hoot the first time through and is absolutely worth a rental.
C Revolution report card
  • Hilarious dialogue and happenstances
  • Drips grindhouse style
  • Way too easy
  • . . .and difficult for all the wrong reasons
  • Not worth any replays

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