Sunset Overdrive Review: A Fun New Take On The Apocalypse

Sunset Overdrive Review
out of 5

The “end of the world” is a video game trope that is overused. How many zombie/mutant games does one have to play before they all start meshing into one great big festering blob of sameness? Hoping to break that mold, Insomniac Games, the creators of the wonderfully enjoyable Ratchet & Clank games for Sony’s various Playstation systems, have come up with their own new take on the end of the world with Sunset Overdrive — exclusively for the Xbox One — and the end results are a fun, fast, hilarious and outright enjoyable romp through a world decimated by an “end time event.”

The catalyst to the apocalypse in Sunset Overdrive is a new energy drink called Overcharge, created by a company called FizzCo. This new drink causes the drinkers to mutate into crazed monsters who will do anything for more and in so doing they destroy Sunset City.

The player’s character happens to be a lowly janitor who just happens to not drink Overcharge, and so he is one of the very few humans left in the city. Insomniac leaves character creation entirely up to the player. It could be a man or woman, big or small, clean cut or alternative. There are thousands of costume combinations and there is no societal judgements if the male character wants to wear a dress and wig and high heels while battling OD (Overcharge Drinkers) and trying to get out of the city.

Sunset Overdrive Review

The weapons and costumes in Sunset Overdrive challenge the players imagination.

Also, this is a Insomniac Games title, so there are some incredibly creative guns and weapons for the player to use. Weapons can be upgraded in levels and augmented with Amps to become more and more powerful. And as the game goes on, and new enemies are introduced, powerful weapons are definitely needed.

Sunset Overdrive is an open world, sandbox game. There are mission givers and allies to help the Janitor, and each character is fully voiced. These characters also act as guides, and they are given some of the best lines. This game is funny. Funny in a way that break the fourth wall often, and even makes fun of itself on occasion, especially in commentary over the abundance of fetch quests and myriad side quests for items used to create new amps for the Janitor and his weapons. As an empale, there as 150 smelly sneakers hanging from power lines that can be collected. Same with roll of toilet paper, CCTV camera batteries, and Fizzy balloons, the FizzCo mascot. The Janitor finds these items as he travels over the three boroughs that makes up Sunset City. And that brings us to the next point: travel.

Sunset Overdrive review

The world of Sunset City is vast, with tons of hidden things to find and collect and tons of OD to kill.

The Janitor grinds as the prefer mode of travel. He (or she, though I created a dude, so I will use the male pronoun going forward) can jump, wall run, and a simple press of the X button causes him to grind over power lines, gutters, roof tresses, light poles; basically anything with an edge. Traversing the city is fun and there is always something new to find, including enemies to take down to earn currency for upgraded weapons, items, and new costumes.

Certain weapons work better against certain enemies and remembering the best way to take down a monster-mutated OD is the key to survival, and the story missions themselves don’t repeat as often as the game makes it seem. In fact, these story missions, which take up about 15 hours of your time to complete, are creative in their design. The Janitor has to team up with a group of academic nerds who are all glued to their smartphones, a wayward troop of scouts in the midst of a mutiny, and even some crazed LARPers waging war in a city already ravaged by an energy drink. Each new group also creates a new “base” that can be used to buy new ammo, costumes, and for the player to take a breather to focus on weapon and character amping and of forth.

Sunset Overdrive Review

The OD monsters in Sunset Overdrive are big and gross and deadly, and their deaths are marked by humorous onomatopoeia.

Sunset Overdrive is also a pretty game to look at. The color palette is bright and vibrant, even at night, and the orange-tinged OD (Overcharge is an orange flavored beverage) never get boring, as is the case in most zombie-type games. One of the highlights of Sunset Overdrive are certain tower defense-type missions that the Janitor must complete to cook more powerful amps. These all happen at night, as the game explains it just “looks cooler,” and tasks our hero with defending vats of Overcharge that are being used to create the new power ups. The Janitor can lay traps (some ingenious) and he must defeat wave after wave of enemies while a timer slowly counts down. This mode is also the basis of the multiplayer component of Sunset Overdrive. Players can team up in Chaos Mode to defend vats while mutants attack. The game adjust the difficulty of the mission based on the number of players, and things can go south very fast. The Chaos Mode is a nice aside to the game, but nothing too memorable for the greater package of the game in its entirety.

If there is one drawback to Sunset Overdrive, its in the fact that this doesn’t feel like a new gen title. This game could have easily been on the Xbox 360 or PS3. The graphics are nice to look at and the framerate is solid throughout, but neither are jaw dropping. Not like, say, InFAMOUS: Second Son on the PS4, which flexed its new gen muscle in terms of graphics and control. As much as I enjoy playing Sunset Overdrive, and I love the writing and the humor, I don’t see it as a system seller by any stretch of the imagination.

Sunset Overdrive is pretty, fast, and fun game to play, and one of the best games on the Xbox One system, as it is an exclusive. There is plenty of content — on disc and paid from the Xbox Store — and additional DLC packs are already rolling out offering players new missions, weapons and costumes. Insomniac Games has delivered a well-written and funny experience and while it may not be a reason to buy an Xbox One, if you already own one, it’s a must have game for your library.

Sunset Overdrive was reviewed on Xbox One and furnished by Microsoft for the purposes of this review. It is available exclusively for Xbox One.

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