Sunset Overdrive Review

Gaming

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Sunset Overdrive
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox One
Install Size: 22.98 GB
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Price: $59.99 US – Available Here $89.95 AUS – Available Here

Overview
In a world where most video games come in different shades of gray and brown, only certain titles try and stand out from the rest by taking advantage of a varied color palette. While most of these titles happen to be developed by Japanese studios, occasionally a Western developer will try something different. In the case of Insomniac Games, they have a bit of history when it comes to making unique games and now that Sunset Overdrive has been released, is it worth picking up?

Story
When a game begins with saying that the player is “Totally Screwed” you know you are in for a different experience. In the world of Sunset Overdrive a megacorporation with enough power to silence an entire city has created a brand new energy drink called OverCharge Delirium XT and the player happens to be working as a member of the clean-up crew during the early launch of the drink in Sunset City.

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The rave party seems to be a big hit but quickly turns into a riot as those who started to drink the new OverCharge have mutated into strange creatures that are dubbed the OD. These mutants are out for blood and will kill anyone they come across, including the player who must run, grind, and bounce all the way back to their apartment to hide before joining a group of survivors who are trying to escape the city.

While the base storyline may have a few serious sounding tones to it, Sunset Overdrive is about as far from serious as you can get. Instead what players will find is a game that offers a crazy over the top experience with numerous jokes, references, self-aware ribbing, and fourth wall shattering moments. The humor may be a bit hit and miss for those who don’t like zany games but for those who do you will be in for quite a treat as this game is about as rapid fire as it comes with its comedy.

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Everything in Sunset Overdrive is a joke of some kind, including the design and names of weaponry, the collectibles you gather throughout the city, almost every sidequest you go on and, and even the respawn animations make for a great time at almost every moment. However there is just so much going on at times that it can be a bit off-putting, as too much of a good thing is also a bad thing and there are moments that the writers feel like they are trying too hard to make something funny only to fail.

Gameplay
The “awesomepocalypse” that occurs in Sunset Overdrive is all about making sure that the player has the time of their life, as emphasized by the fact that almost every survivor you come across is enjoying the new freedom the OD outbreak has caused. This means that Insomniac Games has created a number of fun systems to take advantage of and numerous ways to dispatch not only the OD enemies that appear, but humans and robots as well.

While players can obtain simpler weapons such as a revolver and assault rifle, most of what Sunset Overdrive has to offer comes in the form of weapons that shoot exploding teddy bears (or kitties at one point), guns that fire ricocheting records, flaming bowling balls and more, all giving players a chance to take out opponents however they wish. To top that off these weapons all have various effectiveness levels against types of enemies and players can continue to add abilities to their weaponry by leveling it up (by killing enemies) and equipping “Amps.”

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These Amps are various combat abilities that can be equipped to weapons to add various status effects to weapons and much zanier options and even enhance their other abilities. These Amps are activated whenever the player plays with “style.” By performing various acts such as grinding rails, bouncing on cars, or generally making use of the game’s impressive free roam parkour you will raise your Style gauge which unlocks the power of your Amps.

This system is designed to make sure that players are always on the move, which is essential and quite easy to pull off in Sunset Overdrive as the city is lousy with rails and cables to grind and hang on and various objects that can be bounced on. Killing enemies while performing these acts also increases your Style gauge and considering a number of enemies can easily pick off slow moving players. This creates a chaotic atmosphere that is as intense as you can imagine, with the player running on the side of a wall to leap off and grind on a rail before jumping to a lamp post to swing onto a cable to hang from using a crowbar, all while shooting enemies.

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The chaotic atmosphere does do a number on how easy it is for players to grasp the navigation system though. Since there are so many objects in any given area and numerous actions are performed with the same button, there will be many times where your character will perform the wrong action which can be frustrating during challenges and whenever you are trying to collect an item. That being said, the game does reward the player with little tokens whenever they perform certain actions such as wall running, bouncing, killing certain types of enemies, etc. which can then be used to unlock “Overdrive” upgrades that help boost the effectiveness of the player’s equipment and parkour moves.

Although this makes it sound like aiming would be a major problem, thankfully Insomniac has included a very simple lock on system that allows the player to hit enemies by simply pointing the camera at them and allowing the targeting reticle to pull up. This may be a bit simple for some but it is honestly the best way this system could have been handled considering how fast things unfold.

Being an open world game, Sunset Overdrive offers collectibles to gather as well as side-quests and challenges to complete. The fun thing is that these missions all have their own style added in and actually have a purpose. Gathering toilet paper from a lamp post or stinky sneakers from cables may seem useless, but they can then be used to turn into Amps for ridiculous reasons and make gathering these items something worthwhile rather than simply gathering trash.

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When you want to try out the online mode, players can access the “Chaos Squad” mode at various locations in the city. This mode puts the player with a number of other players as they take part in various co-op missions throughout the city, voting on which missions they wish to do next and building up a Chaos meter which determines how many enemies they will have to face off against in the Night Defense mission that are as fun as they are chaotic as the OD enemies put up quite a fight, requiring intelligent use of traps and player communication. As an added touch, everything unlocked online can be taken into the single player mode and vice versa.

Visuals & Audio
Rarely do larger titles take advantage of colors that aren’t shades of gray and brown and Sunset Overdrive benefits greatly thanks to its vivid color scheme. Sunset City is designed using vibrant colors and polished to such an extent that everything looks cartoonish but believable. As for the player, customization is everything in Sunset Overdrive and at any time players can change the gender, body type, face, and clothing of their character with a wide range of outlandish looking clothing available in the game letting players be whoever they want to be.

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As for the voice acting, thanks to the comedic over the top nature of the game most of the voice acting comes in the form of yelling but it never really becomes too much. When the characters aren’t yelling at the screen, they are voiced suitably well with the player character making numerous comedic quips throughout the game.

Overall
Sunset Overdrive is the type of action game we rarely see nowadays. With its vibrant color palette, an in your face sense of humor, and mostly fantastic gameplay there is much to love in this game that allows players to run rampant throughout a city infested with energy drink filled mutants. There are still a few flaws here and there and the attempts to stretch the comedic aspect do fall flat at times, but they do little to hamper the fun you will have in Sunset City.

9-0-capsules-out-of-10
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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