House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut Review (PS3)
When it came out for the Nintendo Wii a little while back, House of the Dead Overkill not only set a new standard for the ongoing zombie shooting arcade series, but also for how to do Grindhouse-style games right. It was chock full of grotesqueness, including plenty of gore, T & A opportunities, twisted storyline moments, and lots of F bombs. When we say lots of F bombs, we mean Isaac Washington uttering them every other sentence. The game was a massive bloodfest back then, and it continues to be so with the release of a new Extended Cut on the PlayStation 3.
If you missed it the first time around, here’s the gist: Special agent G (a staple of the series) and veteran cop Washington (a man that isn’t afraid to turn away from cursing) are hot on the trail of a zombie infestation, spearheaded by a mad scientist who’s got a mad agenda. Meanwhile, a stripper who lost her brother in the process is hot on his trail as well, with a fellow pole swinger in tow to help blast the heads off of the undead – both regular zombies and superpowered bosses.
Now, if you’re not familiar with “Grindhouse” entertainment, it’s low-dollar, over-the-top schlock that goes heavy on the gore and cleavage, and light on making sense. But hey, that worked just fine for various movies, and that’s the same effect you get with Overkill. You can’t take this game seriously, you simply go along for the ride and have a blast doing so.
It follows the same pattern as previous Dead games, where you blast enemies to bloody chunks while saving occasional civilians and keeping on the lookout for power-ups and point-boosting goodies. It works just as well on the PS3 as it did on the Wii thanks to precision aiming, quick reloading, and various control options. You can play with a normal controller if you wish, but the best way to go is with the Move and Sharpshooter, as that thing was built for gunning punishment. Hell, get a couple and go to town.
Extended Cut features a couple of additional stages, including a wild strip club stand-off that has you facing off against a couple of grossly mutated ladies. Aside from that, the other notable extra feature is the use of stereoscopic 3D. While it’s hardly dazzling, it does leave a pretty good effect on the screen, especially when blood splatters right in your face. It’s the same sort of feeling you’d get watching a schlocky 70’s film with the old red and blue specs on…though a bit more expensive.
Other than that, the game does boast some interesting extra features, including plenty of unlockables, a new mode that will challenge your trigger finger, and a shop where you can pick up new weapons and improve performance on previous ones. Mowing down an armada of zombies with a machine gun never felt so good.
As far as online features go, the only thing you’ll find here are leaderboards, but they’re quite competitive, as you shoot (literally) for higher scores on each stage and see how they stack up against friends. It's nice to have these.
Overkill doesn’t look like a million dollars, but Headstrong Games absolutely nails the Grindhouse vibe with classic cinema sequences, great stage set-ups, and plenty of blood and guts to go around. Some of the character design is lazy, and the lip synching doesn’t add up at times, but overall, it really is a far better-looking title than previous HOTD games, save for part four. The audio has plenty of hilarious one-liners and crappy dialogue, perfect for the tongue-in-cheek style of the game, and the original soundtrack is killer, with lots of tunes that sound as if they were inspired by director Robert Rodriguez. Considering he’s part of the team that brought back the Grindhouse style, that’s quite a nod.
Though House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut’s adult-oriented style won’t be for everyone, it’s a hoot and a holler of a shooting game, chock full of secrets, bloody grossness, and over-the-top fun for those who will appreciate it. Spend your Halloween night locking and loading, and killing some “mother f***ing zombies”, as Washington would put it. You won’t be sorry.