Sunset Overdrive Review (Xbox One)
“That just looks mental!” Those were the words that were uttered when we first heard about Sunset Overdrive. And with every new titbit of gameplay footage or trailer we received our thoughts went to “this could be something special”. And once we found out that inspirations for the game originally included the novel I am Legend, a documentary about the Hyena men of Kenya, Tank Girl comics and The Young Ones our thoughts became a chant of “please don’t suck, please don’t suck”.
For those I have just confused with my waffle, Sunset Overdrive is the much anticipated new open world game from Insomniac Games. Set in the year 2027, it tells the story of mega bad Fizzco, who are in the process of having a party to pre-launch their new energy drink OverCharge Delirium XT in Sunset City. Fizzco have been rather naughty though and haven’t tested their new product properly, because if they did they would have discovered it turns those who drink it into horrible orange beasties called OD. Fortunately you were working the event and never got a chance to try the new drink so you become one of the few humans left in Sunset city. Also, because of years spent playing videogames, you are more than prepared for this type of situation and are able to turn the apocalypse into the Awesomeocalypse. Along the way you will meet others who will either help or hinder you as you try to sort this mess out and escape Sunset City.
Insomniac games have created a solid but standard open world game as a base and proceeded to add a whole bunch of crazy to create one of the funniest games ever. One of the tweaks added concerns mobility. In Sunset Overdrive you cannot drive cars, neither can you run around (well, you can run but you cannot sprint). So the question then becomes how does one get about in Sunset City? You parkour of course! Sunset City is covered in rails, telephone lines and such which allow you to grind everywhere. In addition to grinding, you are equipped the ability to wall run, dash in mid-air, grind on water and jump super high by bouncing on cars and umbrellas. There is also no cover button when fighting off the OD. Instead, you need to keep mobile whilst you rid the city of the OD menace. And because shooting an enemy in the face whilst bouncing on a car is stylish, you can earn extra perks for being continually stylish that can power up your weapons; these become very useful and almost essential later on in the game.
Speaking of weapons, these are something else that are completely nuts in Sunset Overdrive. Guns, grenades and rifles have been replaced with weapons that have been scraped together with things found in the city (much to comic effect as well). These not only do amazing damage but are also crazily named, such as the TNTeddy, a weapon that launches teddy bears with dynamite strapped to them or the weapon that launches bowling balls at enemies that is simply named The Dude. The weapons are also upgradable by adding amps. These amps add various attributes to the attached weapon once you have reached a certain level of style.
Sunset Overdrive’s gameplay contains all the usual suspects found in an open world game. The main story of the game is fantastic. The humour overtakes everything and the anarchic style freshens up the types of missions we’re used to in open world games. An example of this is an escort mission where you need to find someone’s dog that went missing. At one point during the mission after you have cleared waves of enemies to protect the dog, you discover that it is actually a robot dog who will instantly slaughter anyone it sees as a threat. Cue the mission changing to an opportunity where you get to kill hundreds of OD by commanding a killer robot dog. Sunset Overdrive also seems content to constantly challenge the fourth wall. The main character is asked at one point what his name is. His response is “My name? it appears above me in multiplayer but I can’t quite read it”. There is also an amp that when activated praises you for being a brilliant game player. The game also pokes fun at itself and the type of gameplay that it is made up of; the main character often guesses what is coming up in the game and tells NPCs how to behave so he can start the mission. There is a side mission where you are charged by one of the NPCs to defeat Fizzco robots and collect parts they leave behind. His reasons why? “Hey, I don’t know what it does either but it’s f*&%king cool looking, right?” Another part of the game where the humour has taken over is with the respawn animations. After you die you come back in a novel way (normally with a knowing nod to something geeky). You may appear out of Telephone box a la Bill and Ted, warp in like a T-1000 or crawl out of a television like the creepy girl from The Ring. I don’t think I can remember laughing as much at a game as I have with this.
The side missions available in Sunset Overdrive are a varied bunch. There are the missions that develop back story for you and the NPCs you interact with as well as the usual time trials, survival runs, and fetch and carry missions. The time trials and speed runs are pretty standard fare but will add hours to your play through should you like that type of thing. My play through of the game where I completed the main story and story side missions took just under twenty one hours so there is plenty to keep you going.
The multiplayer in Sunset Overdrive is a modified version of one of the single player missions where you need to protect an area from waves of OD. Players play semi cooperatively to defeat all the invading OD as the person with the highest score at the end wins. Although fun with anyone, this multiplayer works best with a group of friends as its easier to stave off an invasion when everyone is on the same page.
Our time playing Sunset Overdrive can only be described as thoroughly enjoyable. Insomniac Games have just given a masterclass in taking a tried and tested game genre and making it feel fresh and fun. It was the first time that upon finishing the final mission of an open world game I have been met with a wave of disappointment. Not because the ending is bad (spoiler warning: it is awesome) but rather that I was not ready to let the characters and their story go. So not only has Sunset Overdrive renewed my faith in open world games (and also not sucked), it could also possibly be the best game I have played this year.
4.5 OD’d beasties out of 5Sunset Overdrive Review (Xbox One),