“House of the Dead: Overkill” – Bits & Bytes “Late To the Party” Video Game Review

“House of the Dead: Overkill” – Bits & Bytes “Late To the Party” Video Game Review

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.  Sorry, just trying to prepare you for what’s ahead.  You see, the Sega produced House of the Dead: Overkill uses the “f-word” a total of 189 times (which consequently earned the game its place in the Guinness Book of World Records for most swearing in a video game.)  This is not your father’s video game.  By the way, did I mention this game is for the family-friendly Nintendo Wii?
“Keep yo’ mothafuckin’ hands away from my brain!” – Isaac Washington
The House of the Dead series has had a long and storied history.  What started out as an arcade light-gun shooter eventually found its way to home consoles, spun off a few sequels, morphed into the weird-as-hell “Typing of the Dead” (yes, you used a keyboard and had to type to halt the undead masses,) and was even adapted for the screen in the Uwe Boll directed travesty of the same name.  House of the Dead: Overkill marks the first time that the series has produced a direct-to-console game that wasn’t initially an arcade release and the first release not done by the original creators AM1 (fans can rest assured this is a House of the Dead game though with zombies still performing the same over exaggerated drama-queen swipes they always have.)
“Get back in the kitchen, bitch!” – Isaac Washington
You know you are in for something special when Overkill begins.  The Sega logo fades onto the screen and begins to pop and jitter as if being projected from a dirty negative three decades old.  The opening sequence is a direct homage to the “grindhouse” era (presented in “Slater Color!”) Suddenly it becomes clear that the developers, Headstrong Game, are true fans of old-school shlock cinema.  The credits role over a live action stripper pole dancing with a picture presented in blown out red hues and scratches galore…a sexploitation nod at its finest!  Even as the game starts, the menu itself is aged and meant to resemble a film print that has made the rounds of back alley theaters of the ’70’s.
“I know what irony fucking means, muthafucka!” – Isaac Washington
The game (which can be played solo or co-op) follows the characters Agent G; “a rookie agent, his identity a mystery” and Isaac Washington; “a playboy cop…make him mad and he’ll rip your balls off” as they attempt to squash a sudden zombie (or “mutant”…”don’t use the Z-word, muthfucka”) outbreak and chase down the game’s sadistic crime lord villain, Papa Caesar.  “Overkill” spans across a total of seven levels, each with their own name and drive-in B-movie poster.  Each level and subsequent cut-scene is voiced by an over-the-top narrator ripped from movie trailers of the past (think the voice-over work from the “Grind House” trailer, “Machete.”)  Even the music is a nod to blaxploitation/sexplotation cinema, leaving me at times wanting to don my fur coat and show a bitch how strong my pimp hand could be and at other times wanting to take my wife to a key party.  Levels end with a classic boss fight ranging the gamut from huge insect monsters to my favorite, Nygil & Sebastion- a pair of conjoined twins (something that always has a special place in my heart after having my own conjoined twin removed in the spring of ’81…rest in peace Marvin, rest in peace.)
“What does a brotha have to do to pacify a bitch?”- Isaac Washington
During game play, only the Wii-mote is used (and mostly forgoes any Wii-mote “waggle” with a few excusable exceptions.)  The B button of the Wii-mote is used to fire and the A button to reload.  All gun sounds (shots and reload) are heard from the Wii-mote speaker and add a nice touch.  Head-shots are of course the way to dispatch the zombie horde, but shots at legs and arms can be used to dismember as well, with the zombie in turn reacting appropriately to where they have been shot.  Despite being an “on-rails-shooter,”  you do have a bit of freedom to move your point of view, as the camera pans left/right and up/down when the reticule hits the edges of the screen.  The game itself continues the “worn film” effect with scratches, pops, and lines while you play. Between each level, you have a chance to visit the gun shop to purchase new weapons or upgrade your existing ones with cash you have earned.  Rescuing civilians adds bonus points (which you will need to build up as continues use these points.)
“I’m gonna amputate yo’ muthafuckin’ head…guess that makes me a doctor!”- Isaac Washington
Due to the Wii’s hardware limitations, there are instances of slow-down and stutter, even though there are never more than a dozen enemies on the screen at once.  Character models obviously aren’t as impressive as what can be seen on the PS3 and 360 and are limited in number as well.  Get ready to see some of the same zombies over and over and over again (bald, fat, bearded zombie be damned!!)  There are load screens but are presented in movie style (“Presentation Rated XXX- Restricted Access!”) and never got old.  Graphically, what the game lacks due to the system’s shortcomings, it more than makes up for in style.  The game is made by fans of pulp cinema and that goes a long way (there’s a “missing reel” during the final boss battle for Christ’s sake!)  
“I can’t believe we’re getting our fuckin’ asses kicked by this fuckin’ cripple!” – Isaac Washington
The game clocks in at just around four hours and ends with the funniest scene I have ever witnessed in a video-game (Issaac’s constant “muthafucka-ing” during the game makes for comedic gold in the hands of Agent-G at the end.)  Finishing the game then opens the option to play the “Director’s Cut” version from the main menu screen which adds lengthier levels and more zombies.  In addition, there is also an extras menu where you can unlock extra videos, extra music, and extra 3D.  Unlocking these extras require certain conditions to be met during playthroughs and add considerable meat to the game.  There are also mini-games such as Money Shot (carnival shooting stall,) Staying Alive (survive as long as you can,) and Victim Support (save the civilians) all which add even more to the game’s re-playability.
“Fuck, I think I slept with that bitch!”- Isaac Washington
“House of the Dead:Overkill” is a must for any true fan of low brow cinema.  Most (if not all) of the in-jokes and genre-nods will fly right over the heads of the general video-game playing majority…and that’s alright.  This game is made for folks like us in mind and comes highly recommended as an alternative to all of the “me-too” games out there that are flooding the shit out of the market.  Not often does a game come around that oozes with style from every corner such as “Overkill” does.  A MUST BUY!

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