|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Headstrong Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 11, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
December 12, 2008 - It's no secret that the Wii has very few shooting-style games. Because of the Wii-mote's lack of thumbsticks, shooters have been confined to arcade-style rail-shooters, which have proved in the past to be a little on the shallow side. Games like Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return showed that arcade-style rail shooters could work well on the Wii, but felt somewhat empty. However, House of the Dead: Overkill is looking to bring a little extra something to the Wii rail-shooter. But what exactly is that extra something?
If you are unfamiliar with House of the Dead, it is pulp B-movie-style action. With the success of cult hits like the Evil Dead series, the B-movie style of horror has proved to be quite popular, and House of the Dead looks to tap into some of that popularity with its newest entry. Although the House of the Dead series has always had a certain cheesy aesthetic, Overkill looks like it will play up this understated characteristic with a whole new visual style and plenty of kitsch effects, but with the same classic gameplay that we've all grown to know and appreciate.
Like it's predecessors, House of the Dead: Overkill will feature an on-rails system where your character moves through different rooms automatically, and your only task will be to clear each room of zombies. The gunplay in House of the Dead games has generally been very simplistic, and this new entry in the series looks to stick with conventions in this regard.
Although Overkill will definitely take gameplay elements from its predecessors; the story this time around is actually a prequel to the original House of the Dead. You play as a fresh-faced Agent G, who has just graduated from the academy. Joining you is a new character, Agent Washington, who definitely plays up the "bad cop" role, with crass language and a take-no-prisoners attitude. These two characters get themselves into some pretty harrowing situations, including infiltrating a zombie hospital, complete with talking zombie nurses and doctors. It's obvious from these situations that Overkill definitely won't take itself too seriously, and it will play up the most ludicrous of zombie shooter stereotypes, with plenty of chuckles along the way.
In addition to the new story, there are several new mechanics that will be at work in Overkill. Chief among these will be a "bullet time" mode, which is triggered by picking up a green DNA icon. When triggered, this item will slow down time for a few seconds and allow you to take careful aim at nearly-paralyzed enemies. Like previous entries, House of the dead will feature destructible enemies who can still pursue you despite having a few of their limbs blown off, or stop dead in their tracks after a precisely-aimed headshot. Zombies will also come in different species, including over-the-top boss-level zombies with exaggerated character designs that include multiple heads and deformed extremities.
As far as weapons are concerned, House of the Dead: Overkill looks like it will have plenty in its arsenal to choose from. Each character can carry a primary and a secondary weapon and can choose from shotguns, pistols, automatic rifles, and long-range weapons like grenades. The weapons can be used interchangeably, and strategic use of weapons and ammo is sure to be an integral part of Overkill's gameplay.
The visuals in Overkill look like they will emphasize the series' trademark zombie destruction, with plenty of gore to spare. Moldy flesh and blood spurts permeate almost every frame of the game, much like previous titles in the series. Early screenshots also show that Overkill will use some new visual elements including various filters and effects such as wash-out, grain, and overexposure to achieve the game's B-movie aesthetic. However, despite these cool effects, the way the visuals look at this point do seem a little simplistic, which may be due to the Wii's technical limitations. Even so, this title is still deep in development, so hopefully the visuals will be improved as time goes on.
Overkill's control scheme will work largely the same way that House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return did. You play by pointing your Wii-mote at your television and moving an onscreen cursor over a foe's body parts. Then with a quick mash of the B button, your current weapon will fire; mission accomplished. Because the House of The Dead series is on-rails, you won't have to worry too much about wandering through stages, as the game moves you through different rooms automatically. However, you will be able to "look around" different rooms by pointing your Wii-mote towards the edge of your screen to find hidden power-ups and items. The Nunchuk attachment will be optional, but it is not known precisely what it will do, other than providing a quick shake-based reload mechanism. House of the Dead: Overkill also takes after its arcade predecessors by allowing for two players to go through the story mode simultaneously.
House of the Dead: Overkill is definitely a game to watch for. The rail-style shooter has not been the most popular or inventive genre, especially on the Wii, but Overkill definitely looks promising as an enjoyable title that doesn't take itself too seriously. With an old-school style and some humorous elements, this title stands out from its predecessors, but it will keep with the series' tradition of arcade-style shooting. Although there is no firm release date for Overkill at this point, we do know that this title should be crawling on the Wii in sometime in 2009.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor