Sunset Overdrive (game review)

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The ‘Awesomepocalypse’ is nigh, but does Sunset Overdrive live up to the high standards of Insomniac’s other series like Ratchet & Clank and Resistance? Let’s find out.

sunset overdrive Sunset Overdrive (game review)

As you can quickly tell from the trailers the premise of Sunset Overdrive is that a contaminated energy drink has turned the inhabitants of Sunset City into mutants after an exclusive first look, or taste, of Overcharge Delerium XT, the drink in question, at an exclusive pre-release event. All throughout Sunset Overdrive’s campaign, which took me just over 18 hours with some collectibles and side missions in tow. By the end of it I had met many wonderfully weird characters and the fourth wall was in ruins, after being chipped away at the entire game.

Sunset knows that it’s story isn’t the best or even very original, with many zombie games and films following a similar outbreak story, but the way in which the story is told is a real treat and the witty and consistently comical dialogue will keep you entertained until the last mission.

sunset overdrive box Sunset Overdrive (game review)Part of the comedy comes from constant breaks of the fourth wall, with characters directly addressing you, the player, or acknowledging the fact that they are in a video game. Some lines of dialogue still make me laugh replaying the game a second time and an entire side mission involves you collecting unreturned side-quest icons from the many colourful survivors.

Speaking of missions, there is plenty of variety between the campaign and the 54 optional challenges, which see you reaching the goal the fastest, killing as many enemies as possible with a certain weapon and defending your many bases, just to name a few of them.

The multiplayer mode allows you and up to seven other players to tackle similar challenges co-operatively before fending off hordes of OD, the mutants that inhabit the city, from one of your four bases. In multiplayer you can earn money, which is used to purchase new clothes, Overcharge which can be used to buy ammo, weapons and collectible maps, and even clothes, weapons and amps themselves.

Whilst on the subject of customisation options, there are a wide range of clothes for you to dress your character in, everything from Hawaiian shirts and bear slippers to trench coats and the heads of your enemies are fair game, with some of the wackier items coming after collecting a certain number of collectibles.

As well as your clothes, you can also change your characters physical appearance, and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the faces. There are four faces for each of the four body types and are all available in around eight skin tones, although you won’t find any golds or blues like in the later Saints Row titles. The body types consist of two genders, a skinny and a more busty female and a skinny and an disproportionally large male. None of these choices affect actual play but are visible in cutscenes as well as when travelling around the colourful world.

The world Itself is very colourful, a nice change of pace from the dull and gritty worlds we have gotten used to in the likes of Call of Duty and Gears of War, it’s also pretty big and packed with enemies and over 600 collectible items that you can use to buy Amps, superpower-esc abilities that activate when you play with ‘Style’.

sunset overdrive pic 1024x576 Sunset Overdrive (game review)Style is earned by killing enemies and keeping a traversal combo going, the more style you have the better the Amps you have at your disposal. To keep the game balanced it’s quite difficult to keep a high style rank and the rank resets to zero if you touch the ground, so it’s best to stay in the air.

The gameplay is fun throughout, weapons are creative and have the trademark Insomniac silliness written all over them in the blood of your mutated, human and robotic enemies. Like in all the Ratchet & Clank games from 2 onwards, all your weapons upgrade as you use them, with each of the 22 normal and 4 pre-order DLC weapons all being upgradable to level 5. There are a few weapons more useful than others, like the rather phallic Flaming Compensator and the Charge beam, which sends out a blue beam that annihilates any enemy it touches in a matter of seconds, but all of the weapons have a time and a place to be used as some are more effective against certain types of enemies.

Traversal is the lovechild of Jet Set Radio and the Tony Hawk games, and sees you bouncing on cars and grinding on cables. Running around without using the traversal techniques is a sure-fire way to get yourself killed as you move horribly slow whilst on the ground, which is intentional and is meant to encourage you to bounce and grind your way around the map, which is a lot faster.

 

Overall, Sunset Overdrive is incredibly fun from start to end and the great writing will keep you grinning ear to ear. There are a few small crashing issues, with my game crashing four times in the first playthrough, but because of the regular and very well placed checkpoints I was back into the action right where I left off in less than a minute. Sunset Overdrive is definitely a contender for my Game of The Year and is in my opinion the best exclusive currently on the Xbox One.

4.5 / 5 stars     

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