Sunday, 4 January 2015

Don't drink energy drinks in the apocalypse!

Sunset Overdrive

Platform tested: Xbox One

This year has seen the Xbox One really pushing out quality exclusive titles, and has such narrowed the gap to the PlayStation 4's hardware sales. Well deserved, as I review yet another one of these amazing Xbox one exclusives of the year; Sunset Overdrive.

Sure, it's a post-apocalyptic game again. However, Sunset Overdrive takes a far less serious and very humorous approach to the genre. The story setting is funny as hell; there's a new energy drink launched by a company called Fizzco at a concert, you are the janitor at the event. The energy drink, called Overcharge, ends up turning everybody to nasty orange coloured mutants, and you need to help the other survivors get hold of the world outside the city! Frizzco has of course shut the city down and lets no-one escape.

The game introduces you fairly fast to the elements that make it stand out from other games. SO is as much about platforming and grinding to traverse the city as it is to actually shooting down hundreds of mutants. The platforming is clearly a result of Insomniac making the game; the guys behind the famous Ratchet & Clank series on the PlayStation consoles. Something further more proved by the large amounts of weird, stupid and funny weapons!

Simply walking on ground level through the streets will kill you really fast. SO is about shooting stuff with style, constantly moving. If you're not grinding or bouncing away from rooftops, car hoods or fence railings; you simply aren't playing the game right. This constant approach to keeping momentum is tricky to learn at the beginning, but really rewards itself when you get into the controls. A rather steep learning curve, but ultimately rewarding, so new players should give it a couple of hours before it sticks.

Your character, which you can design yourself with lots of wacky clothes, easily snaps on to railings and stuff to jump or bounce on. However, the game balances this with a lot of manual input, requiring fast reflexes from you to actually keep moving around the city. The movement will after some time become second nature, and as such you can concentrate on killing enemies far better. After a while you will look absolutely amazing as you are killing mutants, while performing amazing moves. People overlooking you playing the game will probably enjoy it at as much as the player! 

In many ways Sunset Overdrive is what Dead Rising should have been back in the day; free to approach things, in any crazy way you want, without time limits and horrible escort missions. I really love the crazy amount of enemies they throw at you, the ease you have at jumping around, avoiding them and just the over-the-top weapons that cause incredible amounts of mayhem. All this with a cool punk rock soundtrack on top! It's all about fun and although it tries hard to give the player this message, it doesn't really need to; the core gameplay is incredibly entertaining, even without the wacky cutscenes and funny dialogue. That's what makes a great game after all.

SO may not be a technically stunning game, it's 900p with a framerate at 30fps, but what it doesn't deliver in raw graphics output, it more than compensates with insane amounts of enemies on-screen, beautiful colours (I haven't seen such a colourful game in a long time!) and really stylish visuals that have this cartoonish quality! The game really pops on your screen pushing the colour scales of your tv set to it's limits, and will probably turn more heads than some gritty, realistic looking shooter. The colour palette and character designs suit it's platforming well, as it gives me a sort of vibe that older 3D platformers have. Think Ratchet & Clank's world, with human characters and a hi-tech cityscape.

It's probably one of my favourite games this year, alongside Infamous Second Son it's a free roaming game about traversal of buildings and multiple enemies to take down in your own cool way. It's definitely yet another great reason to pick up a Xbox One for Christmas (throw in Forza Horizon 2 to really seal an awesome gaming holiday) and you are in for hours of fun. It took me about 30 hours to complete and collect everything, so there's plenty of value too! I really hope Insomniac makes this a franchise with more titles futher along the line.

Actually, when thinking about it, this is my game of the year! It's so damn entertaining and colourful!



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