SUNSET OVERDRIVE [Review]: Punk Rock Jesus.
The latest trend in the video game world these days is the selling of game specific consoles. While you can get your hands on an Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty modeled Xbox One, the only game that seems worthy of glazing itself all over (the now $350) next-gen box is…
Sunset Overdrive is that good. It also, suprisingly, stands as the second highest rated video game of the year among critics. Remember back in June when I said this was my “Best in Show” game at E3? Oh, wait. You were too busy going gah-gah for that (thus far) one trick pony they call Evolve. Got cha.
At the very least, Sunset Overdrive plays like a greatest hits video game– key word there being “video game”. It’s the game you’ll want to escape from the endless onslaught of FPS (first person shooters); the game you will brag to all of your friends about; the game that gives you far more memories and laughter than any of the other current high-strung titles on the market; and the game you’ll want to play, simply because it’s all about the AWESOMEpocalypse.
The AWESOMEpocalypse is exactly that. When the world ends, there’s simply more fun to be had…if you call energy drink-infected — meaning fast-as-fuck — zombies and tenacious killer robots destroying your city…fun. Thankfully for the player, Insomniac Games (Ratchet & Clank, Resistance), deliver every ounce of their punk rock sensibilities to the Overcharge Delirium XT. I’d go so far as to say that Sunset has the best side missions in a third-person shooter since GTA V. The traversal missions are far less frustrating than Arkham‘s, yet just as if not more challenging; and the usual “fetch” quests are actually more humorous than Borderlands 2, too. There’s so much to do in the open world of S.O. and you’ll smile the entire time you’re doing it.
Part of that fun is the game’s wealth of customization. From wardrobe to weapons, to Amps & Overdrives that charge up your guns (if you call weapons that shoot teddy bears, firecrackers, and hologram dragons weapons), melee choices (foam swords, anyone?), and several different augmentations (i.e. health, style) there’s a lot that can change throughout the game for all the better of it. No longer are you stuck playing as the generic rough-and-tumble middle-30s white guy. I went from creating a punk rock Storm looking hottie (um, hott!).. to playing as an intimidating-if-he-wasn’t-wearing-a-pool-floatie white jock (if Bane had a sense of humor).. to a female that resembles my girlfriend (pic above).. to a deranged Dragon Age-obsessed black hipster (sorry, Padre!)
The graphics of Sunset Overdrive certainly won’t have the world shaking, but damn are they pretty. The colors ooze off the screen, LITERALLY, and the cartoon visuals are some of the best on the ‘Box1 to date. Every shooter/action/adventure game that comes out these days is dark. Dark is cool. But the Monsignor is here to tell you that the vivid palettes used by the designers simply rocks. Everything appears so bright and neon, and, for us geeeeeeeeeeks, there’s even comic book references and POW! BLAM! GROAAAAAWW!! styled captions that pop off the “page”.
The presentation is uber slick, as well. Everything pops out at you; even the end credits use that late-70s british punk rock pizzazz. If you love the Mclovin-movie Role Models (as my gf pointed out in comparison), you’re going to a love a certain subplot. Put it this way: During one particular combat sequence, they even riff on the theme from Game of Thrones. There’s a lot of riffing and clowning of other games (“that’s quite a wealth of XP!”) and other pop culture references (“Breaking Booze” — YEAH BITCH!) — all very Deadpoolesque in its breaking the fourth wall — which make Sunset Overdrive sorta the video game version of Aquabats-meets-SNL. Sure, the same punk rock licks being looped over do get boring after some time, but fits all the rage of the tasks at hand.
As you may have already heard, Sunset‘s handrail glide and balloon-dive aesthetics resemble the fuck out of Jet Set Radio and Tony Hawk Pro Skater. But seeing how there’s really no other game for the current-gen/next-gen/now-gen consoles out there like this one, that’s A-OK. The comparisons to inFAMOUS: Second Son and Saints Row IV will come and go, because your hero(ine) can leap, sky fly, and zoom as fast as the “God Mode” of those particulars. Thing is– none of those games deliver the endless grinding and seemless traversal wit and speed of Sunset Overdrive.
If you try, not even too hard, you could play 80% of the game without ever hitting the ground. Just bouncing around, parkouring as lightning speeds and testing yourself to see if you can destroy the infected (Deliri-ous monsters), scabs (rogue soldiers), and Fizzco robots (basically the military) is a shit ton of fun. Of course, the more you combo your billboard and rail grinds with leaps, flips, and destruction, the more you are rewarded and the further your fury can level up. And, running around on the ground is stupid– especially when the game jokes about the fact you can’t run anyway. So rumshaker, bounce-bounce off that exhaust duct!
Combat is fun as fuck, too, as you can set literal mousetraps, constantly equip different melee weapons (A giant electric guitar blessed with candles, Hangover rakes), and, overall, just a doozy of batshit nutty guns at your arsenal. My favorite two guns were, perhaps, semi-cheats: One shoots an Acid Sprinkler, infecting all of the OD who come into contact, and, the other, a gun that pops up a hovering mini robot that will constantly fire shots, giving you the chance to unload on these assholes with, say, a bowling bowl cannon at hand.
There’s also multiplayer, in case you were wondering. But while Chaos Squad sounds like a bright idea, fending off the swarm of monsters in these missions is not nearly as fun if you’re friends aren’t around. The one problem I’ve had with games like Destiny and Titanfall, is that those games are co-dependant on the fact they are way better with friends involved. Unfortunately, a lot of my friends can’t afford an Xbox One, or prefer to own a PS4, often times leaving me in the dust with random online goons or mere single player campaigns. The same goes for SO‘s eight player co-op multiplayer mode, but thankfully that bit is only a fraction of this awesome ass game. Better yet, trying to accomplish those CS mission gives me all the more reason to turn back to the game despite the fact I defeated the prime narrative.
About that prime narrative… A lot of critics loved the game; hell, most of them. Yet, their one single complaint (besides those who weren’t interested in the game’s “absurdly juvenile, vulgar humor”; peebrains!), was that the main story was too short. I disagree. If you’re smart enough to mix in some of the side missions while trying to conquer the main story, the game will definitely feel a full 30-hours. That’s huge for a non RPG. That’s a little less than GTA V, which had a far larger world than that of SO. And like that of GTA V, the voice acting is terrific.
Even if it’s yet to be seen whether there will be any DLC missions on the way, you can bet I’ll be returning for more…just for the fun of it. Sunset Overdrive is indeed a game that never takes itself too seriously, but I promise you should.