Shine on you Crazy Diamonds!
Insomniac Games brings you Sunset Overdrive, an Xbox One exclusive that's ram-jam-packed with awesome gameplay it's hard not to keep grinning whilst you play it. It's unashamedly bright, colourful and over-the-top in every aspect and I love it, I love it so much I would have reviewed the game even though I wasn't sent it for review. Well, apparently it was sent to Games Xtreme, we just got it at a different address, so this review is based on the copy I picked up recently after watching a bunch of adverts, videos and Insomniac Games YT vids.
You play the Player, a custom male or female character from a variety of simple but effective customisation features in a story about a drinks corporation, an energy drink, your minimum wage job and MUTANTS. Yeah, lots of salivating OD (as the game calls them). These Overcharge Drinkers (for that is the name of the beverage) have changed in a variety of ways and present a clear and present danger for the inhabitants of Sunset City.
Never fear though, because you're armed to the teeth with an array of amazing weapons, over the top traversal options and 4th wall breaking humour.
In the days of grey/brown Call of Muddy shooters it's fantastic to see something like Sunset Overdrive, a game that is so pretty it makes your eyes bleed from the colourful palette and uber-cartoon nature of the game (in a good way).
Controlling your avatar is simple and the game plays like a lovingly crafted cross between Jet Set Radio and Crackdown, only for me, it's better than both of those baked in a cake and combined with whipped cream. Once you get the hang of moving around, shooting and switching weapons you can rack up some impressive combos and that's what it's all about... it's all about STYLE! The game plays well, traversal is amazing fun and there's a lot more to the movement system if you dig deep enough.
Missions come thick and fast, story missions have Insomniac's trademark humour layered across the whole arc, constantly breaking the 4th Wall and providing some genuine chuckle-worthy moments where I was left with a big smile on my face. The dialogue is a gemstone that has been polished to a bright glimmer in this game, witty and fun. There's probably about 8-10 hours in the story if you bang your way from A to B, if you spend time with the side missions and various challenges there's a heck of a lot more to see, do, unlock and find in Sunset City.
Pretty soon you'll be grinding, pole swinging, bouncing and blasting your way across the city slaughtering OD and Scabs by the hundreds, racking up combos and levelling your weapons as you use them. Each time a weapon levels it gains more potency and becomes more powerful. You will gain Amps too, and Overdrives... Amps are powerful abilities that you can slot into a variety of slots, with a variety of effects that kick-in at various Style Meter levels.
They also come in weapon flavours, so you can power up those weapons too. It's all about FUN and player choice once again rears its awesome head! Everything you do in Sunset Overdrive, you do at your own pace with friendly checkpointing and intelligent mission design. It all adds up to a great experience that didn't once frustrate or annoy the hell out of me, and I get frustrated and annoyed with mission design in games like this a lot.
These are gained by badge awards, badges come thick and fast as long as you do things in Sunset City. Grinding, bouncing, wall-running, ninja-backflipping and murdering OD at the same time. You get badges that you can trade in for Overdrives... and these are character perks that make you even more awesome. Health Regen, want that, gotta get those badges and pay for it. More ammo in your single-shot guns? SURE, badge away!
The weapons deserve a mention, from TNT Teddy... an explosive teddy bear shooter to the awesome Ahab harpoon gun, Dirty Harry pistol and my favourite the FLAMING COMPENSATOR! Then you have the turret copter, the acid-shooting sprinkler gun and many more wacky weapons waiting to be discovered. You can set up a weapon wheel with your favourites and switching to one is easy (it even slows down the game too, so you don't get too beaten-down when changing guns).
Die however and...
You'll respawn in a variety of animation-driven awesome ways, from the Bill and Ted Phonebooth, UFO, Sarcophagus and the Ring cameo through a TV to a drive-by dump from a van, Mission Impossible arrival and Star Trek beam-down (to name but a few). It is this level of humour and design that permeates Sunset Overdrive and makes the whole experience as entertaining as possible. It really is a fantastic game for that alone.
The missions are all well designed, even the challenges are fun, but it's the clever twist on some old favourites that really delights. At some point you'll climb a bloody huge tower using harpoon guns and traversal, fall? Got you covered via a portal teleport that will drop you back on safe ground so you don't have to climb all the way to a checkpoint again.
Zero frustration, 100% fun!
With its mix of zany humour, well thought-out missions, superb weapons and satisfying melee combat all wrapped up in a big city with lots of stuff to collect/see/do Sunset Overdrive has rapidly blown a huge hole in my jaded game-heart and settled there to nestle as one of my favourite games yet. And that's not all, because there are also great enemies and a good variety to the types too, all of them will keep you on your toes and you'll have to think ahead to plan your traversal route to get those combos and style points rolling in against some of the bigger buggers.
Then there's Chaos Squad, the game's multiplayer, that gives you and some friends a variety of tasks to do in the city. Perhaps you'll defend a point of interest, slaughter a whole bunch of Scabs or OD, perhaps you'll attack a base, or deliver some goods. Or just explore with your team to keep that Chaos rising and rising. It's structured in such a way that you can do what you want, when you want and have a lot of fun with your friends as a team whilst kicking OD ass all the way.
FUN, there's that word again and if I were to encapsulate Sunset Overdrive in one word it would be FUNTABULOUS.
What do you mean, that's not a word? Insomniac would beg to differ!
So would Floyd!
If you want a great blast, superb exclusive and a tongue-in-cheek story that stars your own custom character (that can be updated via a variety of unlockable props and costume parts) look no further than Sunset Overdrive - if you want to see lots of grey/brown/macho-men yelling FIRE IN THE HOLE then you'd probably be better off with a dozen or so Generico MachoMan Shooters.
I've got an OD killing badge to earn, whilst flipping 200 feet in the air launching explosive teddy bears! Teddy bears that leave a glorious BOOM written in animated fire-laden text on screen when they explode, I might add.
Beat that Sgt. ShootyMans.
Disclaimer: the Player would like to note that he has nothing against the Generic Brand of MachoHero Shooters at all, but would also point out that grinding along a rail at breakneck speed whilst firing a giant penis-shaped flaming shotgun kind of makes his point for him.
Disclaimer-to-Disclaimer: If you've read this far, what the hell, go out and buy the damn game!
Oh what the hell, here's a short clip of some ASS KICKING
LOVE the music!