There has been a lot of marketing for this game by Microsoft. Every time I turn on my TV I see a commercial promoting this game. With all the money they are spending on advertising, they would believe you to think this is one amazing game. Let’s take a look and see how well Insomniac Games did here.
You play as a down on his luck punk kid who’s main job is a trash man. As luck would have it, you are working at a release party for a new drink called, OverCharge Delirium XT. The party is going strong when all of a sudden the attendees start turning in mutants (OD as the game calls them) because of the drink. Before you know it, the entire city of Sunset is turning into mutants.
The presence of the game is fairly simple. Go through the city to find clues and evidence that the Fizzco Corporation is deliberately doing this and to try and stop them.
One of the first things you do in the game is to customize your character. With a wealth of options you can make just about anything you want. You can make a copy of yourself, or just go all out and make a total ridiculous looking character. As you move along in the game you get access to even more options, accessories and outfits. By the end, you could literally spend hours customizing your character.
The game isn’t about customizing your character. That would get old and boring after a while. Instead let’s traverse out way through Sunset City and see how everything fairs.
One of the first things you will notice about Sunset Overdrive is the color. It is bright with a lot of orange in it. I mean a ton of orange. It is done well enough that it doesn’t over take everything and annoys you. It is a soft neon type of orange which works in this game very well. There are other colors like reds, whites, blues and so forth. The entire game isn’t just a palette of orange only. All of the colors work good together to bring forth a very vibrant world.
Character design, while looking a little weird, are actually really well done. The animations felt smoothly and quick. It was nice to see the quick little details of the gun expand in your hand as you switch between them. Exploring through the city was quick, if you used the rails, power lines, roof tops and your boost. You could get from one side of the map to the other in a matter of minutes.
The voice acting in the game is actually really good. You can tell the different accents and how each character puts emphasis on words and their feelings in the dialog. I always have the subtitles turned on in games even though I wear a headset. I like to see if the spoken words match with the actual text that is on the screen. In this case, everything did matched perfectly.
A nice little touch that Insomniac added to the game was the ability to turn the gore and language off. This creates a more appropriate game for the younger crowd. Even for those who don’t like things like that in their game. This isn’t a gory game by any means. It does have a lot of language in it though.
Sunset Overdrive has a lot of good things going for it. But it also has some bad things as well. For example the mechanics are not polished enough. You can be grinding on a power line and see a collectible up ahead on the adjunct line. If you try to jump over and land on it, the game will sometimes pull you back to the same line you jumped from, or land you on a nearby roof top. This will cause you to back travel a few feet. Not a big deal but it happens way more than needed.
You can also do wall runs on buildings. You can use these to make your way up taller buildings for missions or more collectables. You can also jump on awnings and roof top fans to help your way. Some of these buildings don’t have those, so you literally have to do a wall run, hop up a few feet, latch onto the building and rinse and repeat. Sounds easy enough. Latching back on to the wall does not always happen though. You can fall several feet before your character catches the wall again, if that even happens. There has been many times when I was close to the top of the building having only one or two more jumps left to have my character fall all the way back down to the street, causing me to start my climb back over again.
One of most obvious graphical glitches happens quite a lot. There are delivery trucks that you can get cases of Overcharge out of them. To get those cases out safely you have to fight off a swarm of OD coming at you. I ran across many of these trucks that would be sitting on two wheels. Once you open up the backed, the truck would pop off screen quickly, once it appears again, it would be laying on its side. This just isn’t a fluke as it would happen numerous times. I’m not quite sure how that got past QA testing. It isn’t game breaking by any means, but it is very noticeable.
One thing in games that always just blows my mind is the way missions are laid out. You pick up a mission in a certain spot then have to travel all the way across the map to get to your objective. Do what you need to do there and then travel back across the map to end the mission. Sunset is no different. The good thing though, like I said previously, you can make it across the map in a matter of minutes. Or you can always take one of the fast travel points and come walking out of a portable toilet. Those are fine. It’s the missions that have you go to three different parts of the city that get old fairly quick. If you are a collectable collector, like myself, grinding across the city, from point A to point B looking out for collectables so you don’t miss any, gets tedious and boring at times.
As I mentioned above the voice acting is suburb. The dialog in the game does get annoying after a while though. At first it was comical and witty. I did let out a few chuckles and laughs. After hearing the same thing over and over again it gets really mundane. The biggest example is how the game reminds you that you are playing a game. It keeps mentioning about respawns and other activities. First couple times it was alright, after the next few dozen, the joke got old, quickly. Plus some of the dialog is just rehashed over and over again saying things in a different way. It felt like the writing for this game took a back seat to other portions, like customizing your character.
The one thing that really annoyed me the most about this game was the lack of a favorite weapon swap. There is a fast weapon swap, but if you like two sets of guns you have to pull up the weapon wheel and manually choose them. For example, if you are fighting a pack of OD and a group of Fizzco robots show up, you can’t just simple switch between the guns that are the most effective against them. You have to pull up your weapon wheel, while the action is still going on in the background, then select the weapon that you want. You can do the quick select but that only goes around the weapon wheel. You will have to know the exact number of clicks to get the weapon you desire. With the amount of enemies you can face in this game that is a huge oversight.
So how can you describe Sunset Overdrive. To me it is a mixture of a few games rolled into one. Being from Insomniac Games, you can feel the Ratchet and Clank presence in it. One of the guns alone reminds me of an original RYNO from the series. Jet Set Radio also comes to mind in the art style and all the grinding on rails and things. It also has a little bit of Saint’s Row thrown in with how over the top it can be. Insomniac has a great product in the hands here. They just needed about another month or two of development and testing to polish it off and make it special.
I would recommend this game, but not at the full price. Parts of it feel slightly rushed while others are polished. If you can find it for $50, or under, then go ahead and pick it up. With the holidays coming up soon, it shouldn’t be too hard to find this on sale somewhere.