The House of the Dead: Overkill

Kombo’s Review Policy: Our reviews are written for you. Our goal is to write honest, to-the-point reviews that don’t waste your time. This is why we’ve split our reviews into four sections: What the Game’s About, What’s Hot, What’s Not and Final Word, so that you can easily find the information you want from our reviews.

What the Game’s About
Sega’s long running House of the Dead series is back and ready to scare the hell out of Wii gamers everywhere. Taking place before the events of the original House of the Dead, House of the Dead: Overkill introduces you to a young and newly appointed Agent G and his Samuel L. Jackson-esque partner for the mission, Detective Issac Washington. You’ll find yourself fighting mutant freaks as you hunt down the infamous Papa Caesar and find out why he is infecting innocent people with the deadly mutating virus. It’s game time.

What’s Hot
The Wii isn’t known for impressing gamers with graphics. On the contrary, many Wii games make gamers turn away in disgust. House of the Dead: Overkill is quite the looker, though. Sporting sharp graphics and wonderfully detailed enemies, Overkill is one of the best looking Wii games to date. While not quite at the level of a Xbox 360 title, Overkill will make you look twice when hearing it’s a Wii game. Headstrong Games took a lot of time to add a heavy emphasis into the enemies’ movements, reactions, and even the deformation of the enemies. There’s nothing more satisfying than popping the head off a charging mutant and seeing chunks of brain and blood splatter across the screen.

Of course, great graphics mean nothing without great gameplay to correspond with it. Thankfully, Overkill has absolutely amazingly fun shooting segments to play around with. Whether it is gunning down a barrage of mutants charging you or trying to shoot the collectibles scattered throughout the level, you’ll always find yourself hard-pressed to shoot everything. One of the best aspects is the combo meter. The more mutants you kill without missing, the higher our combo will grow and eventually you’ll reach the level of a Goregasm. You’ll need patience and a steady aim to reach this climatic end.

While the game offers substantially great graphics and amazing shooting segments, the real appeal of the game is the presentation. Shown as a Grindhouse/B-rated horror film, Overkill is complete with cheesy dialogue, a lot of F-bombs, and a humorous soundtrack. Breaking up each section of the game into its own uniquely named chapter, Overkill makes you feel like you’re playing a collection of bad horror movies. But, that’s one of the key appeals of the game. Headstrong makes the game not take itself too seriously and it really makes the humor and cheesy dialogue that much more enjoyable.

While you can run through the main story in about 5 hrs, the real game is the Director’s Cut. The mutants are stronger, more a plenty, and, honestly, the game is better in the Director’s Cut mode. Nothing is massively different from the main story mode campaign, but the stronger and tough enemies really make the game that much more fun. You’ll travel on a slightly different course in the levels and see new areas. This is the type of game you continue to revisit on a daily basis until you collect all the in game collectibles and unlock all the trailers, music tracks, pictures, and more.

What’s Not
No game is perfect and Overkill is no different. While none of the problems found in the game are game ruining or even bad enough to hinder the enjoyment for bit, there are a couple of problems. The biggest problem with the game is the slowdown. The framerate drops off here and there during the first few levels and then clears up as you go on. The slowdown is massive and it’s only for a brief second. Thankfully, I never found myself missing vital shots during the slowdown moments. You’ll only get slowdown when there are a lot of enemies on screen as a given time and your character is doing a lot of movement himself.

Other than the slowdown, the only thing I can see people having a problem is the length. Like all rail based shooters, the main story is very short and can be completed in a few hours. Remember, these titles are traditional arcade style games. Even with a number of mini-games, Director’s Cut, and the main game, people may feel that they didn’t get enough bangs for their buck. This comes down to personal opinion and how much you enjoy the genre yourself. If you love the genre and the House of the Dead series, you know what to expect. If you are new to genre and series, then maybe a rental to see if this something you can see yourself playing for a while to collect everything, unlock all the guns, and beat the highest scores.

Overall
House of the Dead: Overkill is great. Sega has kicked off 2009 with a great title and they are looking to take the Wii by storm in the coming months with The Conduit and Madworld, which has a trailer in the video section of Overkill. I haven’t had this much fun with a House of the Dead title since House of the Dead 2 on the Sega Dreamcast. It’s a blast to play with friends and even a blast to play alone. Play this game.