|System: Xbox One|
|Release: October 28, 2014|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
The world is being destroyed by horrible mutants caused by a defect in a new energy drink and it’s up to you to save it. Well, not really. It’s more up to you to cause rampant havoc and simply have a good time. This is the world of Sunset Overdrive, a new kind of zombie game made by Insomniac, and we got a chance to look at it at this year’s E3.
In the world of Sunset Overdrive, you are a crappy temp worker working a crappy temp job as a janitor for the release of a new energy drink, Overcharge Delirium XT. However, when it turns out that this drink mutates anyone who drinks it, you book it like snap! In only a matter of days, your hometown is completely overrun by mutants. Luckily you, and a bunch of other people who really never conformed to society’s ideals, are thinking outside the box. You’ve retooled everything that is lying around into a potent weapon. Vinyl disc launchers, exploding teddy bears, laser stun batons and more are at your disposal.
Your goal… well we don’t actually know. You could, of course, try to defeat the company that unleashed this horrible mutagen on the world. Or you could just ride the roller coaster for free as much as you want. The world of Sunset Overdrive is kind of a fantasy-pocalypse. Sure the world is overrun by mutants, but at least all the videogames are free.
This sort of carefree punk attitude absolutely saturates all of Sunset Overdrive’s gameplay. Sure you can traverse the world on foot, but who wants to be boring like that (not to mention the mutants will surely prey on you if you slowly plod along the ground). You, as a higher life form who didn’t drink the mutating swill, can parkour with the best of them. You can run off walls, grind on rails… and pretty much everything else, bounce off trampolines and roofs and bushes and everything else that shouldn’t be bouncy.
In fact, you’ll have to do so in order to effectively play the game. Generally being awesome like this charges a “style meter.” Each time your style meter levels up, you activate an “amp” of some sort. Amps are passive abilities that you will find and craft as the game goes on. For example, the amps that we were shown caused your dodge roll to electrify enemies, caused your melee attack to shoot out whirlwinds, and caused random bolts of electricity to shoot out around you. The higher your style level, the more powerful amps that you can activate and they remain active until your style level falls as a result of getting hit by an enemy too often.
The story of Sunset Overdrive is all based in this idea of not conforming to standard culture. You’ll meet a lot of other apocalypse survivors, each with different quirks and methods of behavior. For example, Troop Bushido is a similar but legally distinct from the boy scout troupe that was out when the apocalypse happened. As a result, they took refuge in a Japanese history museum and start studying the way of bushido. Now they all wield samurai swords and follow a code of honor… and fire making… and knitting… and other things you would get merit badges for.
Your own individuality is also important in the world of Sunset Overdrive. Want to play a boy or a girl? Want to play something in between? Someone who dresses in drag? Someone who is actually transgendered? Want to have a Mohawk? A tattoo of a skull on your face? Want to dress in a schoolgirl outfit and wield a chainsaw? Want to wear a suit, football helmet, and robot boots while wielding a freeze gun. Want to run around in nothing but underwear? You can! You get to create the character in Sunset Overdrive, and the story will always revolve around you.
If the single player doesn’t quite appeal to you, Sunset Overdrive also has a range of multiplayer modes. You can drop in and out of these modes any time you see a photo booth in the game. One mode that we were shown at E3 was a “wave defense” style mode, in which you and up to 7 other friends defend against hordes and hordes of mutants. All your progress in this mode transfers over to single-player and vice versa.
You’ll have to use a lot of strategy, utilizing specific weakness of many of the mutants in order to get by. You can freeze big enemies to stop them in their tracks. Light enemies on fire to spread it from one enemy to another. You can even distract mutants with yet more energy drink and mow them down in packs.
I have to say, Sunset Overdrive was a lot of fun. It decides to eschew the era of cover based grey brown shooters for a colorful tongue in cheek experience. It lets you actually have fun for once. It knows it’s a video game and is proud of it, and in a time where every single game we play seems to need to be ultra serious, this is a breath of fresh air.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 12, 2014