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The House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii) artwork

The House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii) review


"Headstrong Games definitely receives points for giving players a different presentation with The House of the Dead: Overkill, instead of playing it safe by following in the footsteps of its predecessors. That's not to say the previous titles had a bad style, but change is sometimes a good thing. You'll immediately pick up on it when the disc plays, starting up as if an old movie is beginning. This is complete with film scratch effects (that stay for the game's entirety), "Feature Presenta..."



Headstrong Games definitely receives points for giving players a different presentation with The House of the Dead: Overkill, instead of playing it safe by following in the footsteps of its predecessors. That's not to say the previous titles had a bad style, but change is sometimes a good thing. You'll immediately pick up on it when the disc plays, starting up as if an old movie is beginning. This is complete with film scratch effects (that stay for the game's entirety), "Feature Presentation" and "Slater Color" cards, and opening credits. Not just ordinary credits, too, but credits with a pole dance that ends with the dancer pointing a Wii Remote at the screen! Yeah! From there, the whole game is shown as a B-horror movie from the 1970s, complete with mock trailers at the start of every stage, cheesy plot progression, mountains of violence and shock, and a scantily clad woman with giant bazooka missiles going by the name of Varla Guns. And there's cursing. Tons and tons of cursing.

So, Zombies + Gore + Shock + Boobs + Potty Mouth = Automatic Awesomeness, right?

Well, while the story of Agent G's first assignment is in no way a bad game, it does feel like it goes out of the way to be a bit forgiving. That's not to say Overkill is light on action, as you'll always be greeted by zombies desperately trying to claw you to death, at such locations like a hospital, prison, and carnival. Building up on combo kills is tough, as well, since you can't miss while shooting all the zombies with erratic movements. There are flaws, though, that are responsible for the somewhat lax difficulty, the most noticeable of which is your health. In previous installments, you only had about three hits before dying. In this title, you get ten, with the ability to replenish some of it within stages. This knocks the challenge down from what it originally could have been, as you really won't fail a stage. I guess the developers tried to counter this by lending players a crappy gun, but you do get to upgrade or buy better weapons as you progress. I would've been fine with this if I could fiddle with the settings, but the only real options available are sound adjusting and gun calibrating.

Also, even though you'll constantly be assaulted by hordes of zombies, they don't have much bite like the ones in past games. I mean, take for example the dual-wielding axe zombies that rush you in The House of the Dead 2; they come quick, and if you're not careful with your shots, they could easily bounce off the axes blocking their faces. In Overkill, you spot similar dual-wielders, except half the time they don't rush, and they're really not using the weapons as shields. Shoot, I don't believe the weapons were programmed to deflect bullets at all, as I've yet to witness it. And while I'm on the subject of zombies, there's really not much variety in attack patterns. They either walk, run, or throw, and usually require two to three hits (if you're not going for head shots) to defeat them. It's a far cry from the likes of hard to hit worms that lunge, and monkey-like assassins that run on walls.

The most bizarre aspect of Overkill, however, is the Director's Cut mode that's unlocked when you complete the game once. Now, I had my assumptions to what this mode could possibly be, the main guess being that it's the main game with enemy and items switched around. I was kinda right. In Director's Cut mode, the game is so much better, because you have more zombies rushing in large groups, and there's actually brand new locations, both extending the game's length.

My question is this: How come this wasn't the main mode to begin with?!

For me, this is the most unusual thing about Overkill, and trust me, there's some unusual things about the game (like those large... flailing... "objects" at the end). Director's Cut mode is something you would do if you were planning to release a special edition of the title, like Capcom shamelessly does for their money makers. You don't put a better version of a game in the same product, then force players to beat a lesser version of it first. If this was Headstrong Games' attempt to prolong Overkill's life-span, then it's a pretty lame way of going about it. However, despite what sounds like endless nagging from me, Overkill is still a nice, mindless light gun title, though not the series' best effort. If you can find it cheap, go for it, but I'd suggest picking up The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return as your first choice. Overkill may have a cool new presentation, but it needed more than that to rival the likes of THotD2.

Rating: 7/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (June 27, 2010)

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JANUS2 posted June 27, 2010:

Good review. Actually, I was just about to review this one, but you said pretty much everything I was going to say. Overkill has everything going for it, but it's just so easy - even the director's cut. The only thing that saves it is the Official Hand Cannons, which must be the coolest peripheral ever. I think I might just write a review of them.

One line that confused me a bit was this one:
"Shoot, I don't believe the weapons weren't programmed to deflect bullets, as I've yet to witness it"
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pickhut posted June 27, 2010:

Thanks for the comments, Janus. I wanted to mention more, but it would have just been nitpicking. As for the sentence, that is a clusterfu... confusing. I actually meant to say:

"Shoot, I don't believe the weapons were programmed to deflect bullets at all, as I've yet to witness it."
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Ben posted July 09, 2010:

I kinda wished you mentioned that House of the Dead was a light gun shooter instead of waiting until right at the end. I'm dumb like that. The only other issue I had on my first readthrough was that I was a bit surprised you sort of recommended it when the changes made were received quite negatively. I mean, I definitely see where you're coming from -- it does seem like a worse version of the game, and your points are clear even to someone who's never played a single House of the Dead game -- but there aren't many positive comments. Maybe I'm seeing it like this because I'm totally new to the series.

Anyway, I did enjoy reading the review. It didn't bore me, despite it being clearly targetted at House of the Dead players unlike myself, and I thought the light-hearted opening worked well.
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pickhut posted July 09, 2010:

Yeah, the negative comments does seem kind of odd when you're seeing it as a stand-alone action game. I was viewing it as kinda like the Die Hard 2 of the series... it doesn't stand up well to the others, but as a stand-alone action game, it's still nice.

Thanks for replying and commenting on the review!

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