REVIEW: House of the Dead: OVERKILL

“If there’s one thing I hate more than mutants, it’s redneck mutants!” – Detective Isaac Washington.

I love House of the Dead. I fondly remember the days where I’d go to my local arcade, feed that hungry machine some quarters, and shoot zombies for however long it took me to die (usually around a half hour). So when my friend mentioned to me that we should play House of the Dead: Overkill, I said sure. I thought this was going to be somewhat classic House of the Dead.

And then I saw the opening video. A stripper pole-dancing. I actually didn’t know it was the opening video until my friends told me it was the opening video.

Um… what?!

For those of you who don’t know, this game was made in the style of an exploitation film, which is pretty much a low-budget movie that promotes any kind of racy content (sex, drugs, violence, etc…). So instead of the classic, somewhat medieval feel of House of the Dead (and subsequent technology advancements in the sequels), this was an exploitation film-style House of the Dead, and damn is it good.

How, might you ask? Because besides the gameplay (which I already enjoyed as a House of the Dead fan. If you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy that, too), but the characters and story are what really caught me. The first thing you see in the game is Isaac Washington punch Agent G (who looks like Keanu Reeves for the badass factor) in the face and say, “Wassup, muthafucka?”

And that’s when the tale began. A tale of one badass rookie secret agent, one badass who doesn’t know how NOT to use explicatives, and one seriously twisted story (and the WEIRDEST ending in history. I’ve never been so disturbed in my life).

And in this tale, you begin to realize that you’re not playing House of the Dead: Overkill anymore. No, you’re playing What’s Isaac Washington going to say next?. Because that’s exactly how it felt. You’d shoot a couple zombies and hear Washington utter, “Shit! Bitch almost had me!” and you can’t help but wonder, through the absolutely awful voice acting, corny one-liners, catchy music, and gore – how is this so funny?

I think that’s why the game can be considered a success, because it takes something like zombies (my bad, they’re MUTANTS, apparently) and throws in an exploitation film plot and characters, and it’s funny. That’s my favorite part of the game. Through every level, you’re almost waiting to hear dialogue between Washington and G. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. It really works!

The visual style itself isn’t high-class, but that just adds to the atmosphere of the game. It’s not supposed to look fantastic because low-budget exploitation films didn’t look fantastic. The gore is surprisingly good, so those who love those gory graphics won’t be disappointed. And I don’t know if exploitation films usually had catchy music, but damn was the music catchy!

Oh, and playing with a friend is fantastic. That’s how I played it, and I think I would opt for co-op over solo on this one. The game is really short for solo play. My friend and I beat it in what was surely less than 5 hours, so playing by yourself can be a good way to kill 5-6 hours, but it’s definitely something I’d try to run through in one glorious night with a friend!

If you’re looking for a game to really give your head a little spin, old-fashioned House of the Dead gameplay, and some good laughs from your new best friend Detective Washington, I highly recommend House of the Dead: Overkill!

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Presentation: 7/10

From the opening video to the level select screen, this game screams exploitation. It’s all very… sub-par, but understanding it’s supposed to be that way really improves the way it presents itself.

Gameplay: 7/10

Classic House of the Dead feel, and the controls worked flawlessly with the Wiimote (I wish we had the Wii Zapper). The boss fights were a little cumbersome, but nothing ridiculous.

Sound: 8/10

Some very catchy tunes, especially during the levels. Nothing entirely memorable, but definitely good while playing. What IS memorable is the voice acting, which is so bad that I’d say it crosses the line over to being incredibly funny.

Visuals: 7/10

So, the graphics themselves aren’t exactly amazing, but… BUT… I think that’s the point of their concept, so it works wonderfully. Plus, the gore doesn’t look bad at all!

Narrative: 7/10

While there is some (READ: very little) substance to the plot, it’s still enjoyable, and while I’m usually one big for narrative, this one didn’t bother me. Although that ending… really, you need to see the ENDING.

Replay Value: 6/10

It’s really something you can pick up again and again, enjoy some of the humor and style of the game, and then put it away for next time. Plus, for hardcore fans there’s a slew of bonus content such as harder difficulties and fan art! The golden brains in the game help facilitate the drive to collect everything for those who want to.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Exploitation film meets House of the Dead. It works.

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Oh, and there are mini-games you can unlock that up to four people can play. I think they were shoe-horned in, so I wouldn’t rush to play them.

Just sayin’.

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