Dropping quarters in the arcade machine, those were the days. Remember those classic light gun shooters? Pulled through scene after scene looking for aliens, criminals, zombies, and all forms of bad guy. The days those arcade shooters made their way to the living room were pretty epic. The likes of Duck Hunt and Time Crisis were pretty standard, but the cream of the crop in my eyes was The House of the Dead series. Overkill, however, is the prequel to The House of the Dead (HOTD) series.
Taking place before the original series began, we follow Agent G with his rookie assignment straight out of the AMS academy. G is joined by Detective Isaac Washington, a playboy cop that could make a sailor blush. The duo unite over a hatred for Papa Caesar, the man who killed Washington’s father and noted local crime lord. The story unfolds with every episode and just as soon as you think it can’t get any more sick and twisted, Overkill takes it up a notch.
The House of the Dead: Overkill does a lot of things right, so right that the mistakes are easily forgiven. The game is themed in a grindhouse style, revolving around typical exploitation movie aesthetics. Often times the graphics are dingy, out of focus, washed out, too dark, or riddled with film scratches and cigarette burns. Each level is a new exploitation movie starring Agent G and Detective Washington. Whether its a jailhouse, swamp, hospital, run down house, carnival, or on a train, there is always room for gore. The concept of playing levels as movies is really entertaining. Usually gamers are pretty averse to lots of cutscenes and narration, but this game makes them worth the wait. The gimmicky stylings are fun and helps the replay value.
Technically speaking the Nintendo Wii was made for a game like this. The “on rails” and light gun controls are perfect for taking aim at the TV with the Wii remote. For extra fun you can grab a gun casing to attach to your Wii remotes and really complete the experience. At times the game feels abnormally slow, especially when there are a lot of mutants on the screen and your laying down bullets from an assault rifle or SMG. You’ll find yourself wondering if the game is really pouring on the grungy grindhouse feel or if the game system is struggling to render the graphics and run the game efficiently. Lazy game coders or a case of the theme taking precedents over quality gameplay?
Overkill is rated M for mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). I never thought I’d recommend a game be rated more aggressively, but this game might be that exception. Scenes involving violence to women and the handicapped, aggressive use of profanity, graphic imagery, nudity, sexual references, the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for this sort of content —and I’m a member of the audience that really gets a kick out of it. When you put this game in your system you’ve got to be prepared for slap happy ridiculousness and know how to not take your gaming too seriously.