Sunset Overdrive / 30th of November 2014
Insomniac Games brings us their new open world third-person shooter set in the city of Sunset, a vibrant and bustling metropolis watched over by the evil FizzCo, a company that are on the verge of releasing a new energy drink; OverCharge Delirium XT. You take on the role of a fully customisable FizzCo janitor who is working a shift at the OverCharge Delirium XT launch party, as the festivities get going, a disaster hits. We all know energy drinks are really bad for us but OverCharge is pure toxic, turning the mass populace of Sunset City into a mutant bloodthirsty army known as the O.D. As a survivor you must solve the FizzCo conspiracy while helping other survivors battle the mutant hordes and the many gangs that control districts around the map.
Navigating the city is almost like a mix between Jet Set Radio, Crackdown and Dead Rising but on copious amounts of acid. You must grind your way along rails, walls and telephone cables while bouncing from umbrellas, air vents, cars and slingshotting yourself around lampposts and signs while running along walls and shooting off your massive surplus of guns. If you don’t like the sound of that, then unfortunately, you’d probably be best to simply stop reading now, as the game kind of forces you to grind and jump your way around its world, for simply running or walking in combat sees the character incur more damage. It probably goes without saying but travelling around in Sunset Overdrive is a very unique and fun experience that also serves another purpose, that of maxing out your combo meter, unlocking different levels of damage that can be used through a players equipped amps.
Amps and weapons amps are upgrades unlocked through completing Vat missions. These amps act as power ups to your character and environmental upgrades to your guns like adding shock, fire or ice to the damage you inflict. Vat missions are reminiscent of Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare in that the player must undertake some tower defence mechanics by setting traps against the OD and diving about protecting your Vat towers from being destroyed. A variation of the Vat mission is what Sunset Overdrive’s multiplayer, Chaos Squad is all about. Chaos Squad puts you and a few friends in a night time Vat mission that never ends. Working together defending against the hordes of O.D as long as possible unlocking amps and items to use in single player.
Other than Vat missions the player can undertake the main story missions, side quests, challenges and aim to gather all the collectibles on offer. Collectibles come in the form of toilet roll, balloons, mobile phones, smelly sneakers, cameras and neon signs. By completing main quests and side missions the player is rewarded with clothing items, money, traps, weapons, amps and cans of OverDrive. Cans of OD can be spent on guns and ammo while cash can be spent purchasing the many ridiculous items of clothing on sale.
The weapons in Sunset Overdrive are definite works of the imagination ranging from an acid watering can, an exploding teddy bear launcher, a firework cannon, the flaming compensator and more bizarre and silly combinations. Some weapons are incredibly powerful while others and quite poor, it’s about finding what works for you and adding complementary amps to increase damage. Included in your wide array of fire power is a comical selection of melee weapons to help you bash the many enemies into mush.
And speaking of enemies, these too come in all shapes and sizes, with different abilities, weakness and strengths. You may find yourself battling against anything from monstrous mutants that tower in size to demonic FizzCo defence robots, or engage in guerrilla warfare against armed gangs of larpers. The mix of enemies presented become the same type of challenge as you progress and unlock more and more powerful weapons and amps, these enemies rarely stand a chance which eventually leads to running and gunning taking its toll.
The main storyline is ridiculous and semi meaningless but that’s not important for this game! The script is witty and humorous and makes fun of the game’s own inconsistencies and isn’t afraid to break the fourth wall, which it does over and over again. It also features a fairly large cast of characters that have big personalities, which lend themselves well to the insanity that is Sunset Overdrive. Most of the oddballs are likeable and humorous at times with a few quoting many famous movie lines when it’s not really appropriate or annoying your character who responds in comical kindness with great animations to emphasis the tone.
The graphics are good and full of textural detail, a subtle mix of a cartoon and comic book style with a colourful palette comparable to the film Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. It’s the small details in this game that really makes it what it is, great graphical details like exploding enemies, known as poppers, that explode into the text ‘PoP’ or freezing enemies with weapons that shoot out the text ‘brrrr’. The music is always constant and changes dependent on the situation and can be used to reinforce comical moments or to sway jokes, it also helps add a layer of punk rebellion. These little touches only help facilitate the crazy, punky and humorous style of the game
There’s no denying that Insomniac’s latest effort will offer players a whole lot of fun at the start but it will eventually begin to drag as you roam around the city repeating similar challenges, objectives and missions. Sometimes it can be difficult to find your objective as the game is never too clear on where the objective will be or what height leading to you spending a short amount of time running in circles. The game seems to lack any real replayability, but with some new DLC on the way, and the ability for the community to vote on what that is we believe could see many players returning to the city, the developer may very well manage to right these inherent wrongs. Now, with that all said and done, Sunset Overdrive offers a wealth of things to do spread across an enormous map, offering hours of endless crazy combo gun play that successfully puts the “laughter” in slaughter. Well, mostly.