When the Hollywood duo of Rodriguez and Tarantino got together, some six or seven years ago and plotted what would turn out to be a “grindhouse” revival, no one could have imagined that even five years after the two films’ release, they would still be leaving that stylized mark on the entertainment industry. Granted, Overkill is a rerelease of the 2009 Wii game and at the time, a little more relevant to its Planet Terror inspiration. Many times, ultra-stylized games end up as critical favorites. Okami and Little Big Planet are two examples of where substance has backed up the artistic gamble. Similar to those titles, House of the Dead: Overkill is all in.
The House of the Dead Light gun, rail-shooter series already has a lot going for it. Zombies seem to be the fad that won’t go away and even if Sega wants to call them mutants, we know what they are. There are even surveys indicating more people have plans for a zombie apocalypse than for more likely natural disasters. Check one for House of the Dead, and shooting stuff is a timeless joy that seems to give everyone at least some pleasure. With two steadfast gaming pillars, you have to wonder why Sega would mess with it. Retro styling aside, the mature themes and execution of this title, will make you want to keep it out of youngsters’ hands.
The cover of the Extended Cut’s cover does warn that it is longer, harder and gorier and in 3D for those with capable televisions. Unfortunately, the grainy, dark art style and 3D don’t mesh particularly well. While not the worst 3D game out there, it’s nowhere near the quality of Uncharted 3 and while reminiscent of 3D films from 30 and 40 years ago, the style might actually hinder the normally straightforward gameplay. Luckily, the difficulty isn’t at the level of the rest of the series. It is also worth noting, getting the game into 3D mode is wonky to say the least but once set, it applies to the extras as well. Also new is Move support for up to four players though not required. Playing with a Dual-Shock controller is much more difficult
The story mode starts with Agent G and his hilariously foul-mouthed partner Isaac Washington storming the Bayou County mansion of deranged crime lord named, Papa Caesar. The extended cut introduces a new character, Candi Stryper, a stripper of course and two additional levels inserted that besides fleshing out Varla Gunns a bit more, add some back story. Besides the story mode, Overkill offers a trio of addictive and fun minigames and the Director’s Cut offers increased difficulty after completing the standard story mode.
As a rail shooter, the mechanics are pretty much just point and shoot and the game moves you along the path you need to follow. Though personally not a fan of the Sharpshooter accessory, the game is compatible with it. As you are moved through the levels, there are plenty power-ups, collectibles and cash that can be collected by shooting them. In addition to the guns and the upgrades you can purchase for them, there are also grenades and new to this edition an explosive tipped crossbow. The redone HD cutscenes and an extended final boss fight cap off the Extended Cut’s additions.
House of the Dead: Overkill is well aimed at a very narrow niche of gamers and you have to wonder how economically sound that is. It’s certainly not something the targeted demographic could play with their kids. So, is it more Shadows of the Damned and Catherine or is it more Duke Nuke ‘em? Honestly it’s about smack dab in the middle. The art style is really only nostalgic for aging Gen X gamers and though the foul-mouthed campiness is a little more widely appreciable, most people might have a hard time finding suitable gaming partners for this fun little zombie romp. If you need an excuse to dust off your Move controllers, at $39.99, it is one of the better purchases you can make.
House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes and Strong Language.