House Of The Dead Overkill
I’ll be honest, my love of shooting games pretty much ceased when Virtua Cop 2 arcade machines became all but impossible to track down. SEGA’s brilliant sequel was the kind of shooter that actually rewarded skill and accuracy, requiring you to carefully pick your shots for maximum success. Alas, that sadly gave way to a next generation of games that while staggeringly good looking, placed increased emphasis on hammering the trigger as quickly as possible until cramp set in. The House Of The Dead series always struck me as one of the worst offenders, a monotonous string of button bashers that bred tedium in double-quick time.
House of The Dead Overkill was always going to inspire some degree of interest, thanks largely to the Wii-exclusive title utilising the console’s nifty remote (or the Dirty Harry-esque firearm if you’re dedicated enough to pony up for one). And rather surprisingly it exceeds expectations, both aesthetically and in terms of gameplay.
The cover art alone is reminiscent of a ‘70s grindhouse feature poster, a promise that translates perfectly into the in-game action itself. Replete with colourful characters – fast-talking profaner Agent Washington is the perfect counterfoil to the more straight-laced rookie Agent G – and a glorious amount of gore, House Of The Dead Overkill is amongst the Wii’s best looking titles, and certainly one of the most fun. Intentionally overcooked cut scenes play out in the story mode, advancing the narrative and bombarding you with dialogue that belongs firmly in the cult classic section of your local video store.
The undead are suitably unnerving foe – though easily dispatchable – with the end of level bosses intimidating slices of nasty. You’ll occasionally feel compelled to inbed your remote in the TV as you appreciate that some of the latter take considerably more perseverance to best than others, and the red target-specific method of taking them down can admittedly grow a little samey. Thankfully the combo system implemented in the game adds a new layer of interest, dishing out extra points for kill-strings and shot placement, thereby adding a skill factor too often missing from games of a similar ilk.
With a ton of unlockables, seriously addictive two-player co-operative option – a welcome relief, given how many Xbox titles are reserving multiplayer action for Xbox Live – and so much care paid to trying to bring a nightmare to life, it’s probably the closest you’ll get to being inside a Romero movie and surviving with your brains intact.