Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunset Overdrive review


    Underwhelming.

    Which is annoying because this video game goes out of its way to try to whelm its audience. However, it is basically a Mountain Dew commercial with about as much punk and rebel spirit as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Michangelo. The characters dress, act, and listen to music straight out of the Nineties but are ostensibly living in the 21st century. Likewise, there's some vague anti-corporate jingoist spirit but this is a video game which was obviously made by a committee.

    It's very...safe. Which is bizarre because it appears to be radical on the surface.

The city's color pallette is a nice contrast to others' games. So there's that.
    A janitor in the employment of the FizzCo corporation is one of only a handful of survivors after the launch party for a dangerously unsafe energy drink. Said energy drink turns the majority of the citizenry into gigantic mutants called "OD" (because they overdosed and the title of the game is overdrive) and our hero tries to survive in the colorful wonderland which has emerged. At one point, one of the NPCs says, "In order to cope with the apocalypse, you might as well have fun in it!" Which, to me, said, "Yes, the game is telling me I should have fun. That is never a good sign."

    I respect what they were trying to do, I do, and I see the effort. However, the gameplay just isn't all that fun. The monsters don't have any real personality versus their closest equivalent in zombies. Yes, I just said zombies have more personality. The OD drink orange cola and hate the living but they don't have the creepy fun factor, say, Dead Rising's dead possess.

Travel around the city is supposed to be fun but is a mixture of fun and grinding bore.
    The game's characters are supposed to be zany but aren't, really, and more often than not come off as annoying rather than endearing. All of the weapons are utterly ridiculous so there's no sense of "crazy" to the fact there's an explosive teddy bear gun. Yes, you read that correctly. They somehow made that boring.

    I think a key feature of this game is it aspires to the wackiness of Saint's Row but lacks the entertaining characters, the engagingly bizarre plot (versus just bizarre), the incredibly good music, and sense of exploration. Sunset Overdrive gives its protagonist the ability to jump incredible distances like Super Mario for no reason and move around power-lines the same way Cole MacGrath could in Infamous. Again, for no reason.

    The game is meant to be played with you jumping around shooting at stuff, which is fine, but the enemies become almost impossible to be hit by when you do this so it's not all that much fun to actually fight them. Then there's the fact death automatically deposits you just a short area away with almost no lost progress, essentially making the game feel like you can't lose. There's no challenge.

The OD are, at least, unwholesome looking. There's a nice bit of satire, if it is satire, about how damn DISGUSTING the energy drink looks.
    The game tries very hard to establish how wacky and over-the-top it is without actually being wacky or over-the-top. This is exemplified by one of the mission zones being the protagonist meeting with a bunch of bored preppies called 'The Oxfords." The protagonist must get their shallow needs filled like their robot dogs, bottled water, and backpacks full of body spray. Because, you see, they're shallow and that's the joke. Repeated five or six times.  

     The gameplay which is trying to sell itself on pure fun, has an overly complex enhancement and leveling system for weapons. If any game cried out for something simple like leveling up with experience points and buying upgrades it is this game but, instead, there is a system of amps and cards which seemed more like a hassle than a boon.

    Sunset Overdrive can be fun but is so at about an hour at a time. I couldn't bring myself to play the game for much longer and, instead, completed it on a series of runs over a long period of time. Honestly, it's this niche I recommend people pick the game up. It's fun as something to play when in-between playing games.

6/10

2 comments:

  1. The next generation exclusive games so far have been less than stellar. Its no wonder people are hanging on to their PS3's and 360's rather than making the jump. There hasn't been a non-disappointing triple A title yet. Lets hope Witcher 3 and Arkham Knight break the mold.

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  2. No kidding. It seems to be a mixture of games which aren't that long (The Order), tech demos (Ryse), adaptations (GTA 5, Tombraider), and a few standouts (Inquisition).

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