House of the Dead: Overkill

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For me, the House of the Dead series has always been judged by its own set of standards. Being a rail shooter of dubious plot and even worse character development, it would be unfair in my mind to compare it to juggernauts Resident Evil or Silent Hill. But coupling zombies that fall from the sky in droves with arcade guns and a few friends always made up for the lack of depth.

So when we put Overkill into the Wii last night, my expectations were exceedingly low. After all, it was a rail shooter on the Wii. Now I love my Wii, but M-rated games just aren’t its scene. Choosing the two player campaign, I played Agent G (the staple character in this series) and my husband picked up Detective Washington, a new character to the lexicon. The following is the intro that greeted us. WARNING: Extremely adult language.

Holy shit! This game’s opening line is “Wassup motherfucker.” And it just gets better from there. House of the Dead: Overkill embraces its “M” rating better than any game I can remember playing on a Nintendo system. Or any other system really. Fuck is said in one form or another so many times that House of the Dead: Overkill was recently given the Guinness Book of World Records award for most profanities used in a video game. To be specific, 189 or almost one F-bomb per minute.

Split into mini-movies instead of chapters (like Left 4 Dead) Overkill takes you through classic horror movie areas such as the plantation house, the carnival and the hospital. Along the way, it subverts or lampoons pretty much everything in the genre from creepy Asian ghost girls to the thing from Total Recall to Left 4 Dead’s helicopter rescue. Complementing this the whole time is the kitschy 70’s soundtrack and poor audio, the intentionally profane and poorly written dialogue and of course, tons and tons of zombies. Excuse me, mutants. (There is an ongoing debate between the two characters as to which these are.) Overkill’s style was very reminiscent of the recent “Grindhouse” movie by Quentin Tarantino.

All the bells and whistles are there, but of course the gameplay is essential. Overkill is your standard rail shooter here. Unload your clip into the bad guys, shoot off screen to reload, repeat. There is also the staple House of the Dead “Save the civilian by killing the things attacking her”. On top of these, the developers threw in a few extras to beef things up. Throughout each chapter there are golden brains to collect, and little green swirlies to shoot. If you manage to hit them, the game goes into “bullet time” making it easier to shoot the zombies…er, mutants. And even as a rail shooter, you are constantly looking behind you for enemies and ducking to avoid explosions and boss mutants.

That’s not to say the game doesn’t have its drawbacks. The pistol is still the preferred weapon of choice in the game since the shotgun is both slow and occassionally erratic. And don’t get me started on the sub-machine gun. If I unload an entire clip into a mutants head, it should bloody well die! Because it is a rail shooter, seeing the health pack/golden brain/green swirly in time can be difficult. I suggest utilizing a third “player”, usually a non-gaming friend that likes to watch, to keep an eye out for these things for you. We also encountered one glitch, where upon killing the boss of the level his minions continued to beat on us (albeit without doing damage) for about fifteen seconds. Standard for the House of the Dead series, the game is very short but beating it unlocks Director’s Cut mode which is bascally the Hard mode and several different minigames. There is also incentive to go back and earn more money to get new weapons and upgrade current ones.

Any of these negatives are glossed over and forgotten though by the campy and extremely amusing cut scenes, dialogue and even the hilarious lyrics to the soundtrack. This official prequel to the original House of the Dead not only exceeded my expectations with flying colors, but I feel reinvigorated the rail shooter genre. If you’ve been waiting for the Wii to grow up and speak your language, they couldn’t have given you a  more perfect game.

House of the Dead: Overkill is rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language and Sexual Themes

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One Response

  1. Never tried House of the Dead, but i am quite tempted to now.
    Thanks 🙂

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