Long-time ISB readers may recall that my love of comics is only slightly greater than my love of video games. In fact, if I’d chosen a slightly different crappy retail job a few years ago, I might be spending my time making jokes about Flashman or The Many Emotions of Navi (well, two emotions: “Hey!” and “Listen!”) instead of the beloved four-color comedy that I’ve ended up with. Point being, I love video games, and lately a lot of that love has been directed at one in particular:
Now, I’ve always been a fan of light-gun games and rail shooters, going back to a childhood of afternoons spent at Aladdin’s Castle in the mall, pumping quarters into Lethal Enforcers, despite the inevitable, poorly modulated end-of-level demotion back to PATROLMAN. By the way, quick Protip for anyone involved in a bank robbery where guys stand up one-by-one and are cut down by a guy moving robotically through the bank, accompanied by a constant voice telling him to reload: Don’t Stand Up. You’ll save us both a lot of trouble.
Anyway, if you really want to get into it, I guess it started–as all things do–with Duck Hunt, although unlike Lethal Enforcers, that was a game that was just as fun if you turned the console off and just pretended you were shooting Televipers or something. But still, there was just something about the tactile experience of holding a gun rather than just a controller, and over the years, it made me a fan of Lucky & Wild, Area 51 (especially after I found out about the Super-Secret Kron Hunter Mode from, I believe, an actual issue of GamePro), Time Crisis, Virtua Cop, Ninja Assault, Police 911 (which, owing to the motion sensor that actually detects how you’re standing or ducking behind objects, is the only game I’ve actually been sore from playing), and of course, House of the Dead.
The latter appealed to me not just because it was a game about blowing away zombies chunk by glowing green chunk, but also because of its hilarious tendency to take itself way too seriously. I mean really, have you played House of the Dead 2? It is trying so hard to be genuinely scary in a game that involves a fifteen foot-tall knight with a battleaxe and a glowing weak point the size of a Volkswagen that it’s just adorable.
Needless to say, this is not a problem in Overkill, which is the only game for the Wii that includes the line “I’m gonna rip your motherfuckin’ balls off!”
So let’s get this out of the way here: Did you guys see Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse: Planet Terror? Because the guys who made Overkill sure as hell did, and they liked it so much that they decided to just go ahead and make the unlicensed video game adaptation of it. Seriously, they put the “aged film” filter on it, the cutscenes are done up like ’70s shlock horror trailers, there’s even a “Missing Reel” gag. Heck, the whole thing starts out with an actual live action stripping sequence. It is downright shameless.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I’m a sucker for a ’70s style aesthetic, and while Overkill wanders off into being a pastiche of a pastiche, it hits the right notes, and the end result is something that’s actually funny because it’s meant to be, bundled in with a game that’s hours of mindless, ultraviolent fun. Or maybe not entirely mindless: The fact that your hits-in-a-row counter goes away at 30 and gets replaced with a waving American Flag? That’s actually pretty clever. And hilarious.
As for the game itself, well, it’s about as deep as a kiddie pool. I mean, it’s a rail shooter. There is literally nothing more to it than pointing and shooting. There’s a nominal attempt at adding depth by letting you unlock and choose between more powerful weapons as the game progresses–and by adding in features like Extra
Zombies Mutants and a harder, extended (tee hee) “Director’s Cut” mode–but I’m pretty sure those are just there to make sure the game lives up to the “Overkill” tag. I had a friend over and we decided to see what would happen if we both chose the Assault Rifle and just held down the buttons so that we were never not shooting.
But again, that’s part of the fun, just tearing through armies of the undead from the comfort of your own living room. And as something to fill the hours between beating The Lost and Damned and the arrival of Chinatown Wars, it definitely did its job. If you’ve got a Wii, check it out.
Otherwise… Well, Detective Washington may have some choice words for you later.