First Impressions: House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut
Posted by Mike Mason
It's no surprise to see House of the Dead: Overkill making the leap to PlayStation Move. Originally developed for Nintendo Wii, Headstrong Games' title seemed like an ideal candidate for a port from the second that PlayStation Move was announced, following similar arcade shooter efforts such as EA's Dead Space: Extraction. What is still shocking – in the best way possible – is quite how Headstrong managed to get SEGA to agree to such a drastic change to the series' style.
Traditionally a bit of a cheese-fest, the House of the Dead series took an unexpected diversion with Overkill, incorporating the feeling of a grindhouse Z-movie. A hilarious mix of depravity, over the top gore, impromptu explosions and political incorrectness, all packed in with enough swears to make a sailor slightly uneasy, the game follows Agent G and Detective Washington as they dismantle the horror that has formed around them. In fact, if anything, Move's House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is likely to take things even further than the Wii version, with two new scenarios set in a strip club and a meat factory lined up for inclusion. Considering the content that they somehow got away with in the standard cut, we dread to think what else they've shoved in. Dread and anticipate.
Gameplay-wise, Overkill does little different to the rest of the series. It's an on-rails arcade shooter featuring plenty of zombies, and it's an incredibly good example of the genre – perhaps even the best of the House of the Dead games. A few little touches that work well with the grindhouse theme, such as a slow-motion power-up and a combo system that awards more points with sustained accuracy are new to the franchise, however.
The hospital-set second level of the game, Ballistic Trauma, was available for play at Eurogamer Expo. The PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter made blasting through the hordes of rotting fiends a cinch, controlling every bit as accurately as the Wii version. The side buttons of the gun shell switch between your weapons – a magnum and a body-exploding shotgun as standard, though these can be changed later – while the Move button beneath the trigger allows you to lob a grenade when you run into a particularly hideous situation. If you've been looking for an excuse to pick up a Sharp Shooter, look no further: pulling the barrel to reload is especially satisfying when unloading lead into the undead.
The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut looks fantastic in high definition, and it already looked pretty good on Wii. Headstrong built the game as if it was creating it for a HD console in the first place, downgrading the visuals bit by bit until it ran smoothly on Nintendo's system. For the most part this worked well, but when too much was going on it was susceptible to the odd framerate issue. Though these never affected the game significantly, it's refreshing to see Overkill as it was meant to be, without any slowdown. 3DTV support has also been added to Extended Cut, demonstrated well by the creepy boss of the demo stage swiping out of the screen if you let it get too close. You won't do that if you've got any sense.
The House of the Dead: Overkill was a delight on Nintendo Wii, and it loses nothing in the transition to PlayStation 3. With the gameplay apparently intact, combined with improved graphics, extra scenarios and weapons, plus online leaderboards, The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is looking like a game you're going to want to devour when it's released at the end of October.