Sunset Overdrive: Review - Games Weekly

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Sunset Overdrive: Review

Sunset Overdrive has one of the weirdest plots for any game so far. Steering away from the usual ‘world is taken over by baddies and you need to save it’ story, it revolves around a soft drink. Yes, you read that right: a soft drink.To boil the plot down a little bit, the fictional FizzCo released a soft drink to the public. But the problem is that the drink is powerful that it has turned the population of Sunset into strange mutated monsters. It is naturally your job to figure out a way to stop the
spread and restore order.

It is definitely inventive and slightly off-centre, just like the entire game is.
Dropped into the middle of the action straight from the title screen, it becomes very clear that Sunset Overdrive shouldn't be taken too seriously, yet there is a sense of frantic urgency when dealing with crazy freaks that explode into a massive ball of soft drink. Starting the game, you will be asked to create a character for yourself. Here you can really let your imagination take hold, but don’t worry if you put a beard on a pretty lady you will be able to change your character’s appearance whenever you want to, and there are plenty of crazy options to choose from.

While it’s not the biggest selling point of the game, there is a huge degree of fun that goes into creating a character, and then dressing them up the way that you want or at least with the clothes and accessories that you have unlocked.

The title sets up the action by allowing you to join four different factions to fight off the hordes of overdosed former-humans. The factions are unlocked as you progress through the game, and getting to them is where Sunset Overdrive really wanted to make a statement. See, plain old running isn’t good enough for this title. Oh no, you have to make use of the traversing element that can become hugely annoying at the best of times you have you grind, dash, swing and bounce your way around
the map.

It’s fun at first, but once you realise that there is no ‘run faster’ button for when you just want to travel by foot, the jumping and grinding begins to seem like a bit of a chore. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly satisfying to string 100+ grind combos together (and it does get you from point A to point B a lot faster), but it feels forced. And in a game that allows for player freedom, being forced into particular activities that aren't necessarily demanded by missions is a bit of a push in the wrong direction.

I would have like the grinding to be secondary, in a ‘you can use it, but it’s not a necessity’ kind of way, instead of being punted as the only way that you should make your way across roof tops. But with that said, almost everything can be used in the world, probably with the exception of the trucks because face it, those are just too big to realistically provide any sort of elasticity to propel you 20 to 30 meters into the air.

Oddly enough, while the swing-grind-jump-bounce manoeuvre is the recommend mode of transportation, you can fast travel back to your base or selected other areas. Granted, you don’t get all the special stuff and kills you would have if you’d “legged” it, but it’s a little bit faster.

And with any game that requires a set of incredibly fast fingers to juggle the grinding speed, the direction, when to jump and what else to grab on while possibly changing direction yet again, there will be some conflicts in command which nine times out of 10 will result in your carefully crafted character face planting. Well, not really, as there is no fall damage, but you get the idea.

There is a multiplayer element to the game as well, which is accessed by going to Chaos Squad stations placed throughout the game’s world. Setting it up, you and your friends will be placed in a lobby, where you can select which map you want to play on.

Chaos Squad is, as the name implies, chaotic at the best of times. There are different modes in the one-world setting that you can compete in, such as destroying a certain amount of boxes of killing one kind of monster.

The more players you have in your team the better, but there needs to be a great deal of communication to make sense of it all. Once the soda blood starts flowing and you have scary monsters chomping at your heels, you can get disorientated very quickly.

While it makes for some great fun with a bunch of friends, it’s definitely not the biggest selling point of the game. It does feel a bit tacked on, and it would have been better if it was a bit… less chaotic. Trying to figure who started the great soft drink infestation and how to stop it with the help of your new friends can be a daunting task, but luckily you have some mechanical help.

During the course of the game you develop different skills and upgrades that you can use to fight of the hordes. These skills are upgraded by spending Overcharge the in-game currency that is picked up by killing enemies. Upgrades include better health, bigger ammunition capacity and doing more damage to a certain type of enemy.

The quirky and often-hilarious weapons can be upgraded in the same manner, which will increase their damage or other factors that will aide you in restoring order to the world.

But while all of that sounds pretty cool, I’m starting to wonder that maybe I’m the only person that didn't find Sunset Overdrive has great as everybody else has been making it out to be. Sure, the action it fast-paced and very forthcoming, but is that all to the game?

The extensive upgrading system took some wind out of my sails, as I found it to be more cumbersome to actually invest the time to tweak them all. I really just filled them up with what I had, and left them like that for the rest of the game.

Getting around can be fun, but once in a while you really just want to put boots on the ground and go for a good old fashion run and gun, but because there is no sprint option, you become a throbbing target very quickly. Then there are the challenges. These can be completed to get more customisation options, like leg tattoos, jacket and hats. But the problem with them is that they are so difficult, that the effort far outweighs the reward.

All in all, it’s not a bad game, but it is by no means a title that will be shifting consoles for Microsoft. The graphics are pretty good and the humour is hilarious, but drilling it down to the bare bones, it does get a bit monotonous after a while.

8/10

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