The Wii seems like the perfect console for light gun shooters, one of its main functions is the IR sensor, but, with the exception of Resident Evil The Umbrella Chronicles, we have not had a well produced game to test this out. House of the Dead fans should also be wondering if this game is truly worthy of the House of the Dead name. It has long been synonymous with light gun games, so does this Wii exclusive version live up?
House of the Dead Overkill is the first, real, House of the Dead game developed exclusively for the console. I had never been a big fan of the House of the Dead series. Sure they were fun to mess around with when visiting an arcade, but I never bought a home version. To me they were just a way to pretend to shoot stuff, not any better than the other, quality light gun games. So the House of the Dead series never had a special place in my heart. I played a bit of the first, beat the second, tried the third, and have never even seen the fourth. Overkill, however, caught my eye. It seemed different, new, and perfect for the Wii.
The most obvious point to start with is the new style; it cannot be ignored. It is pulled strait from the recent Grindhouse movies, film grain and all. Not that this is bad, on the contrary, this is just what the franchise needed to reinvigorate itself. The new style does make Overkill feel fresh and sets it apart from previous iterations. The narration, cheesy movie titles of each level, corny dialog, and ridiculous plot have a nice feel to them and capture the vibe they were going for.
For the most part, it works great, but there are a few occasions that made me cringe, and not in the good way. An example would be the dialog that is played when you select the level “The Fetid Waters.” It is a little song that is wrong on several levels. While the dialog is bad, in a good way, some of it seems placed there for the sake that it could be there. As it has been noted in many other places, this game has more f**ks than a porn. While it is humorous at the beginning, then again in the last scene, the remaining time it seems arbitrarily thrown in for the sole purpose that they could. Even though it is cringe worthy, it fits the style perfectly.
The plot retains the same House of the Dead campiness. Instead of just accepting it, Overkill sprints into the ridiculous territory, pausing only to throw a mutated cripple or giant bug thing at you. Due to its console nature, Overkill is longer and more plot heavy than the others in the series. There is more plot, dialog, and cut scenes in one of the seven levels, then the entirety of any of the other installments. While the plot is never the draw for a House of the Dead game, its presence is a nice addition (it is also nice to see how Agent G became the ass kicker he is today).
The real meat of this game is, of course, the actual game play. To ensure that I had the optimal experience, I played three different ways: with just the Wii Remote, with the Wii Zapper, and with the Nyko Perfect Shot. Each had a different feel and effected my enjoyment of the game, so I feel that I need to address each of the separately.
When playing with just the Wii Remote it felt a bit off. The IR pointer worked perfectly. I had no trouble mowing down the endless hordes of zomb-I mean mutants. Though it did not feel right. I want to feel like I was actually shooting the mobs that rushed at me, not just clicking them. I also found that when I used only the Wii Remote, I tended to play in the laziest way possible. I would just sit, with my arm resting on something, and just move my wrist to aim. It worked fine, but it was not ideal.
I figured that I should give the Wii Zapper a try, since it is the Nintendo brand peripheral and it is on the instructions screen at the start up. I used the recalibrate option to make it so that When I looked down the “barrel” of the Zapper, it would be what I was aiming at onscreen. At first it worked fine. It felt right, I was playing House of the Dead the way it was meant to be played. Then the problems of the Wii Zapper began to kick in and I found that I would prefer to just use the remote. The Zapper made it hard to reload and kill the enemies who latch on to you both of which are done by shaking the Wii Remote.
I moved onto my last, and most hopeful option, the Nyko Perfect Shot. As as I recalibrated the aim and turned off the assist reticle, everything clicked. I was blasting away hordes of mutants with gusto. Memories of being in the arcade and shooting whatever that particular game wanted me to flooded my brain and I enjoyed every second of it. The Nyko Perfect Shot is the ideal controller to use when playing this game. The only downside of either the Zapper or the Perfect Shot is that changing weapons (the 1 and 2 buttons), using grenades (the – button), pausing (the + button), and the back button (A) are all on the top of the controller, which makes easy access hard. The trade off, however, is worth it.
No matter the play style, House of the Dead Overkill does not dissapoint in the mutant action department. There are enough enemies to make you want to call in Ash Williams. Each level feels different and unique along with each end boss. The bosses are a bit on the easy side, especially with two players. Each level is filled with targets that bring extra points, which get turned into cash to buy and upgrade new weapons. While the game is short, clocking in at about three hours, the weapon upgrading and Director’s Cut, which is unlocked upon completion and adds a few new aread to each level, coupled with the very nature of the game, provide plenty of reasons to continue to revist the House of the Dead.
Of course probably the biggest draw of the House of the Dead games is blasting through the hordes with a friend. Overkill makes playing with a friends easy, all they have to do is pick up a second remote and join in. This can make the game very easy though, it all depends on who you play with. Running through with an experienced player makes the game a cake walk. Playing with anyone else, and there should still be some challenge to the game, though it will still be considerably lessened. Either way, the game is still fun regardless of its difficulty.
House of the Dead Overkill has reassured my faith that the 3rd parties have not abandoned the Wii and will make great games for it. I am glad to welcome it into my stable of Wii games and hope that this game gets the praise and support it deserves. A game has been made using the Wii right, every Wii owner that is of Mature gameplaying age should get Overkill. I hope that a sequel is in the works and cannot wait to go back to blasting mutants with a friend.
The Grindhouse style is great, but the graphics are a bit weak and there are a few framerate dips here and there
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Great Action and the best installment in the series
Everything sound right and fits with both the series and the new style
The high score board, weapon upgrading, Director's Cut mode, and very nature of the game ensure lastability
A great light gun game has finally been delivered to the Wii