MF, aye.

House of the Dead: Overkill is the sweariest game ever. Seriously. It’s also one of the funniest, and the most stylish titles.

And it’s on the Wii, of all things. Motherfucker!

Like all Sega’s HotD games, it’s an on-rails zombie shooter. The series is known for it’s ridiculous semi-English dialogue (‘Suffer, like G did!’) and cartoony splatter, and developer Headstrong have rather ingeniously taken this cheesy reputation and filtered it through the Tarantino-popularised grindhouse aesthetic. It’s an astonishingly clever move – instantly, stupid dialogue and stupid plotpoints become assets rather than flaws. The ironic humour undercuts any potential offence, allowing the developers the excuse to cut loose even by horror game standards – aside from the liberal swearing and gore there’s some sexist rambling (from the superbly stereotypical blaxploitation cop Issac Washington), references to redneck incest, a disabled kid turning into a big floaty head monster. It’s all so fantastically stupid that it’s hard to respond to with anything less than a grin.

(And bear in mind, I have *no* interest in all this grindhouse bullshit whatsoever. I hated Kill Bill Part 1, and I avoided any of the other nostalgic riffs by Tarantino and co to a B-movie adolescence that isn’t mine.)

While the aesthetic may cover up potential sins of plot stupidity, it’s visual execution is technically impressive and artful, the in-game graphics tinted and blurred like old film, complete with crackles and hairs in the shutter. Slo-mo sequences look under-cranked, while the music mashes old funk with more contemporary sounds.

There’s substance beneath the schlock as well: as on-rails shooters go this is a good one, well balanced and paced, with a steady stream of bad guys, occasional rushes and hectic swinging ’round from one group of nasties to another. The ‘waggle to escape’ dynamic is better executed here than in Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, and in general this feels up there with Link’s Crossbow Training in terms of Wiimote shooting.

On the entry difficulty level there’s infinite continues, but the games hardly a pushover and a few retries will be required here and there. Not capping the continues is probably a good tactic to ensure the Wii’s more mainstream audience gets to see, with a little application, the full game story, while for the more hardcore there’s a large suite of unlockables, including harder game modes, awaiting.

In fact, there’s quite a package of extras here, with a jukebox to play those aforementioned tunes, some simple but well-designed minigames, a movie viewer and so forth. With unlocks and extras, there should be plenty to keep most players going, pepped along by the sheer silly joy of the main game.

This is good stuff. There’s a surprisingly strong showing for horror games on the Wii, albeit mainly of the on-rails kind, including the just announced Dead Space Wii exclusive (although the forthcoming Fatal Frame and Dead Rising titles for the platform should offer more freedom of movement). This is the most original, and distinctive, adult-oriented game on the Wii yet.

And by adult, I mean ‘consciously juvenile’. Bitch!

Mark

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February 23, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized.

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