House of the Dead: Overkill is an on-rails shooter for the Wii which takes the franchise, adds a massive injection of Quentin Tarantino-inspired movie kitch, a large dose of profanities and some genuinely funny moments as you shoot the heads, arms and legs off hundreds of mutants intent on eating your brains.
It’s a massively well-known game which has an army of fans, so it could have all gone wrong when Sega asked Headstrong games to develop it and make it new and fresh for Nintendo’s kiddy console.
Luckily, they’ve succeeded in almost every way and this game goes a long way to make you forget you’re playing on the family-friendly console. The game begins as the cool-as-a-cucumber Agent G and Samuel L Jackson-inspired Isaac Washington investigate a house full of mutants. There they discover an evil plot hatched by the super-corny Papa Caesar and from there, the adventure only ramps up as you visit a circus, a bayou, a prison, a hospital, ride a train and eventually raid an underground base to try to put an end to all this mutant zombie madness.
Before you even get to fire one shot you’ll have a massive smile on your face, even when going into the menus. The music is fantastic, has very funny dialogue over it and sounds like it’s come straight out of Pulp Fiction. We then get introduced to the characters in B-movie style and it all flows with fun and a large dose of campness.
You’ll also notice that Agent Washington says the F word a lot in this game – in-fact this game must hold the record for the number of swear words. Somehow, it’s all very funny and only gets a bit tired towards the end. And it’s a good job the gameplay is just as fun as the dialogue. Shooting is very accurate and the mutants behave accordingly to where you shoot them. Get a head shot and they’ll go down in one, shoot their arms off and they’ll hold the stump and keep coming towards you. Shoot them in the legs and you’ll slow them down, making them crawl.
There are also plenty of pickups to shoot including grenades and health, and glowing brains to collect. You’ll also be able to save civilians in the game and thankfully, it’s easier to save them than in previous games. One thing that does disappoint though is the easy boss battles. They’re very easy to kill and don’t really pose much threat. It’s even easier to kill them when you’ve powered up your weapons which you can buy with cash converted from points. You can get machine guns, shot guns and the like and upgrade with cash you get from repeat plays.
Playing through the seven stages won’t take you long but it’s very replayable and once you’ve played through once, a director’s cut is unlocked which lets you play longer versions of the levels with tougher monsters to pop caps into. Bizarrely, I mostly used the pistol you get at the start of the game with all the upgrades. With this you can be accurate and build up the best combos by not missing enemies when spraying bullets about with a machine gun.
This is the best on-rails shooter I’ve played. It’s very tongue in cheek, full of fun, very funny and incredibly stylish. It’s just a shame those bosses aren’t a little tougher. House of the Dead: Overkill gets an almost-perfect 9 out of 10.