|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Headstrong Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 11, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Wrapping up the gameplay package are three mini-games that can be played with up to four players. The first one is a timed shooting gallery; then there's a survival mode where you simply try to stay alive for as long as possible, facing wave after wave of mutants; and the last mini-game tasks you with protecting as many civilians as you can before a timer runs out. The mini-games are a nice extra, but they wear thin pretty quickly. We'd much rather have seen some type of online multiplayer, no matter how simple or abbreviated.
The presentation for Overkill, however, packs a real punch, and it's almost as fun to tinker with the menu presentation as it is to play the actual game. You're first greeted by a pole-straddling stripper as the opening credits roll. The menu selections are pop-up stills of various characters and creatures from the story mode, and there's plenty of novelty here for B-movie buffs.
The in-game visuals are a bit of a mixed bag. Most of the character models are really gnarly looking, though some lack detail and animate a bit stiffly. There's a visual noise filter that mimics artifacts from old film, and though it's a neat touch that helps nail the 70s motif the game seems to be going for, it would have been nice to have the option to turn it off. The framerate definitely jumps around a bit, and we missed a golden brain (which gives you extra points) here and there due to occasional bouts of lag. That said, framerate drops never caused any real frustration, and the game has a fun, grimy look overall.
In many respects, Overkill is like a really exciting rollercoaster that hasn't been inspected thoroughly. There were certain areas of the game where mutants got hung up on environmental objects, and some bugs might even cause folks to have to restart chapters from time to time. Additionally, a few areas in the game get so dark that it's almost impossible to see enemies until they're right up on you. But, the game's blemishes - even if unintentional - almost serve to add even cheesier flavor to this ridiculous lampoon fest.
The game's soundtrack stands up a fair bit better. The music is simply perfect alongside the rest of Overkill's presentation, and you can unlock tunes for playback in the game's jukebox. The voicework, though, is truly the aural centerpiece, and though Washington is neither believable nor necessarily likeable, he's always good for a laugh. The "F" word is purposely overused, and the two characters come off as overgrown tweenies letting loose while no grown-ups are around - but it's also part of what makes the game so undeniably endearing.
The House of the Dead: Overkill isn't an epic adventure, and it actually lacks a fair bit of polish - purposely or otherwise. However, it's just the breath of putrid air the Wii needed, and in many ways it speaks to exactly what the system is all about: short bursts of great entertainment. The straight-forward, arcade action offers both a wonderful novelty for old-time gamers and an easy entry for mature newcomers. Though it's a bit light on content, there are plenty of incentives to keep you coming back, not least of all is its subversive charm. Overkill is raunchy, morally comatose, and about as thematically deep as Debbie Does Dallas - almost everything you want from a game like this.
CCC Freelance Writer