We have all seen what energy drinks can do for you. A short burst of energy followed by a crash, a zombie-like state where you try to keep it together as long as you can. Sunset Overdrive's Overcharge Delerium XT energy drink takes it a step further and REALLY turns people into horrible, energy drinking monsters of all sizes.
Of course, this wouldn't be a taurine-soaked adventure without you, the hero, and all of the spectacular homegrown weapons that are sure to please anyone. But are flashy explosions and crazy Fourth wall breaking antics enough to save you?
WELCOME TO SUNSET CITY
Choose Your Hero - To start this off, I have to say Sunset Overdrive was a lot of fun. I burned through it really quick, but the side missions and replayable story missions kept me going. Didn't like that score or maybe you want to just obliterate hordes of enemies again? Go for it, and with new weapons and upgrades becoming available, it's definitely recommended. In fact, it's almost required if you want all the extra clothing items to be at your disposal. Oh, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of combinations that make your character completely unique. I was running around in a Kangaroo codpiece, a fly mask, and biker boots all just because I could. And to see the cut-scenes in all your strange glory makes it better. And don't think you will be the only eccentric character out in sunset city during this crisis.
Hardcore - The freaks come out at, well, all the time. I met up with some cosplayers stuck in character, some hipster college students who paid more attention to their cell phone than the apocalypse, and a boy/girl scout regiment that seemed to have missed the memo on what was going on. Some great dialogue and terrible scenarios are what make this game truly shine, though. Fighting a dragon or a giant floating Fizzy (Overcharge's Mascot) are just a few of the insane set pieces included that do a great job of using all of your skills to beat. Good luck beating them without laughing too hard as your character and the enemies ALWAYS have something to say.
One-liners are everywhere and generally without too much provocation. Whether it's a comment on dying and respawning or the other characters you meet, your Sunset avatar has plenty to say. It starts to be somewhat reminiscent of a certain “Merc with a Mouth” minus the unnatural love for chimichangas.
Amptastic! - It takes a good weapon to make a game, or in this case, 40 different weapons from guns to melee. I constantly doled out damage with the Flaming Compensator, the TNTeddy, the Acid Sprinkler, the Dirty Harry, and the Roman Candle. Other weapons exist and they will find a way into your rotation either because they are needed to kill certain enemies or because you are just curious on how it will change the way you play. Just when you thought that maybe 40 guns are excessive, there are upgrades for all of them.
Not only do the weapons level with you by using them, but you can perform special tasks that will unlock special items called amps to add special properties to your weapons. Want some knock-back for your Flaming Compensator? There is an amp for that. Would you like to see the Grim Reaper spawn and choose an enemy to kill? There is an amp for that. There are so many amps and amp/weapon combinations that you will spend time thinking of the best way to dish out the pain. Why not beef yourself up, too? There are a plethora of hero amps, melee amps, epic amps, and dive bomb. There is never an absence of customization present here.
THE SIEGE OF WONDERTOWNLAND
Who Needs Story? - By far the weakest element in this game is the story. You start out knowing more or less what you have to do and the game seems to lag behind in revealing of events. It slowly becomes a standard-issue story with fetch quests and defense quests that will only be justified by the dialogue between you and the other characters. There are few quests that offer any kind of break from the monotony. This was really the saddest part as I felt there was such a great presentation with the character creation and personalization. To have all of that just go into the generic story-telling elements that are available leaves a list of opportunities that could have been.
Do You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth? - I don't think I can say this game fails at one particular thing as much as I can say it has a lot of small things. The fact that the game makes references that are dated or obscure isn't a bad thing per se, but some of the humor can be lost. The legendary Scarface "First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women" line is present as is other lines from pop culture, but again, unless you know where these started, it's not as funny.
I had a blast with these, but I watched a friend play it and they were kind of lost on these gems. It seems that it just tries too hard to make you like it so it digs up old one liners from movies. Then there is vulgar language around every corner. F-Bombs are dropped so often you wonder if that is the way everyone will talk in 2027. I am a believer that vulgarity can amplify emotions in some scenes, but when it's thrown around it loses most of its meaning. And it's not even funny! Well, sometimes it's funny. Actually, most of the time it is but I am an adult (unverified). It's not that I mind coarse language or a well-placed innuendo, but it does seem like it could limit the crowd a bit by parents who actually read the ESRB.
Insomniac Games did a spectacular job of making a fun, humor laden, gun-absorbed action platformer. From the creators of Ratchet & Clank, it's not a surprise. They have a formula and it works. It has been too long since I have played a game with such a tight control scheme and a focus on pure pandemonium. The frantic gameplay coupled with the likable character archetypes already makes it a solid contender for Microsoft GOTY. Now add a solid assortment of enemies, a somewhat engaging story, and so many guns that it would make Call of Duty blush and you've got a game worth buying.
*This review was based on the retail version of the game for the Xbox One.