This article was originally posted by me on Hittin Crits, which has since been taken offline. The content in this article was either taken from a web archive of the original, or from the most recent copy on my hard drive. As archives do not always contain images it’s probably that the images contained within the original article are not present here.
Increasingly often lately in regard to games, I feel a lot like Tom Hanks’ character in Big. Everyone’s gathered around assuming that something’s great, and I’m just there with my hand up, saying ‘I don’t get it’. My hands-on time with Sunset Overdrive is the latest gaming experience to make me think this. I’d heard good things about it, and everyone playing with me was having a ball, but I found it surprisingly dull. I normally love Insomniac’s games, and what I’d seen of the game looked interesting, and yet all I found when I played it was just another shooter.
On show at the expo was Overdrive’s Chaos Squad multiplayer mode, which is a mix between a shooter and tower defence. Your team has to protect your ‘Overdrive Vats’ from increasingly difficult waves of enemies using your weapons, and placed traps. The game’s enemies are humans mutated by a toxic energy drink, into monstrous forms (with robots and other humans also being present in the full game). They’re nothing special, just your typical videogame enemies- fast ones that rush in, big boss ones that take a lot to kill, that sort of thing. You take them out with ridiculous weapons, the likes of which Insomniac are known for. You’ll have guns that shoot flying vinyl records, firework launchers and teddy bears with explosives tied to them (aptly named T.N.Teddy), which have Insomniac’s signature flair. You’ll also be able to place down traps after some rounds, which include things like spinning blades that damage enemies if they come too close.
The game also has some different traversal mechanics. To get to higher ground you can jump on trampolines, and to get around the map faster you can grind on rails, or hang on underneath them while you slide around. Jumping on trampolines always brings out a sense of child-like glee as you bounce into the air, and grinding around with a bunch of other players looks really cool in action. But the thing is… I just didn’t get what the point of it all was. The PR rep kept going on and on about how we shouldn’t run around because grinding was way faster and it would give us Style points, which would in turn make our weapons better. I never bothered to, grinding made it too hard to aim and shoot compared to going on foot, so most of my shots were missing, and I was moving around just fine on the ground. I obviously didn’t need weapon upgrades, because I came first in my group by a ridiculous margin- I had 15 thousand odd points while the person in second place had about 6000. I wasn’t even doing anything special, just running around shooting enemies and making sure our vats were safe.
So in the end what I played was a perfectly ok game, but one that didn’t interest me in the slightest. It has the personality you’d expect from an Insomniac game, but it feels like it could be so many other games when you’re actually playing it. The traversal mechanics didn’t add anything at all because of how much less efficient they were than just running around on the ground shooting, which meant I was just playing a standard third-person shooter with some cool weapon designs. This might change in the bigger world of the singleplayer, but the demo I played really didn’t give a flattering impression of the game’s systems.
Sunset Overdrive bounces into stores October 28th on Xbox One.