I’ve been curious about Sunset Overdrive ever since Microsoft teased it at E3 the other year, it’s a game that looked truly unique, especially when you compare it to every other game hitting retail right now; complete insanity in an unbelievably colourful world. It’s always a massive risk when a developer attempts something completely different but if any studio is able to pull it off, it’s the Ratchet & Clank creators Insomniac Games.
OverCharge Delirium XT is a brand new energy drink on the market created by the masterminds at FizzCo, unfortunately, it doesn’t quite go to plan as it has this small problem of turning everyone who consumes it into a variety of different horrific mutations. The main goal of Sunset Overdrive is to escape the city but it’s not quite as easy as that as FizzCo attempts to control the outbreak by launching an all out robot attack against the city while the few survivors form factions in an attempt to survive.
The majority of the game is spent earning the trust of these four factions that are on each of the four ‘main’ parts of Sunset City. The missions themselves aren’t anything special and can become quite repetitive when you’re reaching the end of the game, just the standard go from point A to point B, kill or collect everything in the area then return back to the base but it’s the way in which you’re able to travel around the city and the dialogue between the characters is what makes this game just so much fun. If you’ve adventured into Borderlands, you can tell that Sunset Overdrive has taken some pointers; just from the way characters have wacky names to the way they’re introduced on screen with giant, colourful letters surrounding them and it works so damn well. The best part about this game is that the character knows he is in a video game by poking fun at the player and current ‘features’ that are in a lot of games today, he’ll constantly make jokes about dying is irrelevant as he’ll just respawn just around the corner.
I love a good character creator and Sunset Overdrive has one of the best to feature in a video game since Saints Row. It’s nice to be able to create a character to exactly how you’d imagine them to be in a situation like this, whether it’s a crazy two-tone hair cut to dressing like a unicorn, it’s all possible in Sunset City. There are literally hundreds of different pieces of clothing, each with several colour schemes and patterns, you can create some true monstrosities. If you’re curious, I created a 1950’s Greaser, it made every cut scene even more hilarious than they already were.
Sunset City is freakin’ enormous and every single inch of it is accessible, it’s just a matter of mastering the players free running abilities. The world is split into four main areas, each of which has a main faction and base; downtown is engulfed by huge skyscrapers, little Tokyo has cute oriental houses, the harbour is filled with abounded boats and the old factory district is completely overrun by mutants. Overall, it’s fairly varied and the best part is just how enjoyable Sunset City is to explore because of the players abilities.
At any time, you’re able to grind, bounce and swing your way across the city, it’s just a matter of avoiding the few dead spots which can end with the player being completely stuck and having to restart the game. You’ll want to master these skills quickly though, as you’ll be obliterated if you attempt to battle on foot, just grind around and the vast majority of the enemies blows will completely miss you.
The one thing that stands out from Sunset Overdrive is just how gorgeous the world is because of all the colours. It can be slightly overwhelming at first just because of how much is on screen but I love it, everything from the fantastic draw distance to the solid frame rate, even when you’re in the middle of being torn apart by dozens of mutants. Everything is just so crisp-looking, it really is a gorgeous game and I really hope more games follow the Sunset-style instead of the typical brown colour palette we’re so used to these days.
As you can tell from this review, Sunset Overdrive is fairly crazy but the weapons are on a completely different level, whoever thought of these is a bloody genius. Imagine everyday items that you have around your house, moulded together and turned into the ultimate killing machine, that is the vast majority of weapons in this game. Vinyl record launcher that shreds enemies? Acid sprinkler? Hairspray bomb? Roman cable auto rifle? Yeah, it covers pretty much every crazy combination imaginable, even managing to outdo the nuts weapons we’ve seen in the Dead Rising titles. If these weapons aren’t enough, the traps that you’re able to deploy at your base during defend missions are equally ridiculous.
There’s plenty of enemies to unleash these mad weapons on too, as you’ll often find your screen filled with mutants just waiting to be exploded with the TNT Teddy. Each ‘type’ of enemy in the game has their own weaknesses such as OD are weak to fire and FizzCo robots are weak to lightning/shock. These can then be taken advantage of using the range of different amps and overdrives in the game, all of which can be changed at any time.
The style metre in Sunset Overdrive is what completely sets it apart from everything else hitting store shelves these days. As you kill, grind and bounce your way across the various districts, you’ll build a combo multiplier which all adds towards your style metre which is broken up into three different levels. At level one, you’ll unlock hero amps, level two unlocks weapon and melee amps and finally, level three releases the ultimate epic amps. If you do manage to hit max level in the style amp, everything becomes even more powerful and you’ll literally melt everything in your path. The games soundtrack is also directly related to the style metre, the bigger combos you string together, the more intense the music becomes. Not hearing any sound? Well, try harder!
That’s how it works but what do they unlock exactly? Bloody everything, each amp unlocks a whole new world of destruction that you’re able to rain down on your foes. Once you rank up your weapons to level two, you’re able to equip weapon amps, the rest can be unlocked by buying them from Floyd at your base. Amps can do everything from have a chance at unleash the grim reaper to spawning explosive teddy bears with each bullet you fire. As you play the game, more become available by defending your base against hordes of OD.
Overdrives add to this craziness, Sunset Overdrive rewards the player with badges depending on how you play, letting you tailor your player to make you even more powerful in the style you like to play. You’re able to equip a maximum at six at any time, which means you can play exactly how you want and be rewarded for it by equipping little buffs like 10% extra style from grinding and extra damage against OD. It’s then down to the player to figure out which combination of amps and overdrives work best for how they play the game.
If you like collectables, you need to go pick up a copy of Sunset Overdrive right now as the game contains over 800 of them in a variety of different forms, roughly 60 collectables are tied to looking at Sunset City in a different way such as reaching sightseeing spots, vandalising billboards and eavesdropping on private conversations.. The vast majority of these are related to purchasing and upgrading amps in the form of toilet roll hanging from poles, rotten trainers hanging from power lines, Overcharge signs planted on buildings, security cameras watching the world and Fizzie dolls hovering throughout the world. These are fairly necessary but thankfully, you’re able to buy maps with in game currency, making upgrading amps even easier, it just takes time but the placement of these items means you’ll often clear a good dozen each time you go from point A to point B.
Sunset City isn’t just collectibles though, it offers roughly 50 challenges covering a range of different categories, each with their own leader boards and medal ranking system. There is everything from traversal races, bomb delivery or simply smashing everything in the area, it’s just a matter of doing it as quick as you can. It’s a neat little way of competing with your friends, trying to beat their highest scores.
It’s always nice to see a multiplayer mode added when it comes to open world games as it tends to be overlooked or half arsed but Insomniac have got this just right. The multiplayer is co-op only and lets groups of players battling against enormous hordes of mutants for valuable rewards which come in the form of in game currency and amps, making it well worth checking out as they are then made available to your single player character. If you find the single player in Sunset Overdrive to easy, you’ll be pleased to know that the tougher multiplayer missions are brutally difficult and involve a lot of strategy.
Sunset Overdrive is without a doubt, one of the best games currently available on the next generation platforms and it’s a game worth remembering. It’s a bat-shit insane and enjoyable game from start to finish and contains mountains of content in a variety of different forms, as well as some truly memorable characters and situations. Sunset Overdrive is without a doubt the best exclusive currently available on the Xbox One.
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