I have to be honest and say that the whole hype surrounding Sunset Overdrive passed me by. Not because I didn’t know anything about it, but because that damn Fizzie and his promotional campaign just wasn’t for me. From the second I saw the ads, I tried to blank Sunset from my mind.
And so now time has come to review a game that I’m starting off on the back foot with. Can the crazy fast shooter win me round? Can Fizzie be forgiven?
Oh yes, he can. For Sunset Overdrive is bloody good fun.
Taking on the role of you, yes you, Sunset Overdrive is quite easily one of the fastest paced third person shooters you’re ever likely to find. Set in Sunset City shortly after a FizzCo party goes horribly wrong, you’ll need to fight off wave after wave of OD’d human mutants in an attempt to save yourself and your wandering friends from the mutant army. Throughout the hours you’ll get to make new acquaintances, and take in a few enemies all of whom have been created with a sense of madness about them. But most of all, you’ll get to accomplaish everything in style because if you don’t, you won’t last two minutes!
The story is nuts, as is the game in general but you won’t find any standard run and gunning taking centre stage in Sunset. Instead, the main focus is on your agility as a non-mutated being and whether you decide to dish out punishment whilst grinding the numerous rails that can be found, bounce around on anything that comes your way or hang from telephone cables, you’ll be earning kills, points, XP and numerous over things constantly. If you try to play SO as a bog standard third person shooter, running around from point to point and firing off the odd shot, then you won’t last long…and instead will be subjected to one of the games many hilarious respawns. The ground is indeed a dangerous place to be and in Sunset Overdrive that is the last place you want to be!
But it’s not just the respawning that will amuse you. From the very first moment you get to grips with the character customisation, you’ll spy something rather special in the way Insomniac Games have approached Sunset Overdrive. Getting your character to carry off a specific look is nothing new but with a variety of bright, colourful and downright crazy garments, accessories and additions, the sky really is the limit for customisation freaks.
And those specific adjectives can be included when we get to take a look at the weapons on offer. Again, if you’re looking for a standard SMG or Shotgun then you’ll be very much disappointed with what is on offer. With the ability to hold eight weapons at any one time (all of which can be accessed via a simple to use wheel), you’ll no doubt find something for every single occasion. The weapons themselves are just as mad as the clothing on offer and I don’t need to go into too much detail other than throw a few names out there with the TNTeddy, the Acid Sprinkler and Freezer Bomb doing exactly what their names suggest. However, The Dude is something you’ll need to experience and once you have, you’ll fully understand the mad nature of the game in hand.
As mentioned, eight weapons can be allocated a slot at any one time and these are most definitely all needed as the mutants, the Fizzco Bots and indeed the Sunset City terrorists, the Scabs that you come up against will all need slightly differing tactics to fully dispatch, with some weapons seemingly useless against the armoured teams that will attack you. It doesn’t take long for you to realise which weapon is best for the job (with a handy hint available in the character tab) but with a fairly limited ammo cache for each punisher, you may just need to weigh up your options before becoming fully embroiled in a battle. Sometimes it’s just best to grind the hell outta there!
Accompanying each weapon and you’ll find numerous upgrades available for them all but this is where Sunset Overdrive gets a bit too confusing. For every weapon has an upgrade or five and whilst that would be fine, the addition of numerous more Amps (additional chance for your shots to have an extra effect like fire or lightning) and Overdrives is just a bit too much. Indeed, the Overdrives on offer give you the chance to increase the power of your attacks, bring you more ‘style’ points or increase your ammo capacities but sometimes you just want to play the game for what it is without needing to delve deep into the character sub menu assigning, equipping and upgrading all manner of things. Include the Traps (each of which use another source of power) which can be laid out to deal even more damage and you’ll see why things get a little confusing to say the least.
If you’re happy to get involved in all the above, then you’ll find Sunset City is a large sprawling metropolis filled to the rafters with things to do. The whole open world go anywhere nature means that it’s super easy to get distracted from the job at hand and once you’ve purchased a few map additions showing the whereabouts of all the various collectibles on offer (yep, there’s numerous types of those too with shoes, toilet paper and floating Fizzies amongst those to find), you’ll quickly find the minutes turning to hours and that you’ve completely forgotten what and where you were supposed to be going. One touch that I do absolutely love however is the addition of Sunset TV. A weekly show that is running constantly in the background, if you decide to take a little break from shooting, grinding, bouncing and collecting, it’s a good way of taking in more info about the game and learning what makes the devs at Insomniac tick. Although to be honest, I’ve got a feeling they wing a fair bit of it!
Everything to do with Sunset Overdrive is fast, fluid and totally nuts. Whilst the single player is massive and constantly growing, it will take many many hours to fully complete but as the story progresses, you’ll be needed to protect the last remaining vats of Overcharge from the mutants. If you manage to do so, you’ll be rewarded with better weapons, better amps and better traps but whereas the whole of Sunset Overdrive focuses on the freedom the player has, these vat defending missions are an unwelcome distraction and I’d have preferred to see them keep it away from the single player game and instead leave the ‘defence’ mechanics that are associated with them to the cooperative multiplayer.
Because in multiplayer, you’ll find yourself defending those vats like no-ones business. Chaos Squad lets you go into battle with up to seven other players as you first take in a number of mini games (deliver x to y, clear out a certain area etc…) and then get to defend huge vats of Overcharge Delirium from waves of mutant OD’s. It’s all about the cooperative feel that Chaos Squad brings but the better you work together, and the more stylish way you go about killing mutants, the more points you’ll earn in the process. Whilst the cooperative feeling is prevalent, come the end of the mini games and vat defending, it really is all about one thing….who has scored the most points.
If you really can’t find anything else to do in Sunset City, then Chaos Squad is a decent addition but you’ll find much more fun going about things in a solo manner.
There is no debating Sunset Overdrive is a good game. In fact, it’s more than good and very nearly grabs the full 5 stars on offer, but the repetitive nature of some of the missions and the frankly annoying Vat protection that is forced upon you every now and then ruins the whole experience for me. Graphically it’s immense and no matter how many OD are on screen and how many bullets are being fired at once, there is very rarely any lag or stutter and the soundtrack pumping away in the background keeps things fresh and exciting.
Those that absolutely love the frantic over-the-topness of everything that comes with Sunset City will love the game, but for me the pre-release marketing campaign that initially put me off sums it all up perfectly…..Bloody good but slightly annoying!
…but if you like that kind of thing then you really should experience Sunset Overdrive, although there’s no guarantee you’ll come out the other end loving what you’ve been subjected to.