Motherfucker. No single word is uttered in the course of The House of the Dead: Overkill as much as that one. And nearly every one of those utterances comes from the mouth of Detective Isaac Washington, the prototypical Blaxploitation cop who partners up with a young Agent G of earlier House of the Dead fame. This version of Agent G is young because this game is a prequel to Sega’s famed light gun shooter series. It takes place in the past, and it does so for one simple reason; it’s not just a game, it’s a game cribbed in the format of a series of ‘70s grindhouse exploitation films. And it is easily the best game in the series.
We play videogames because they are fun, in most cases. “Fun” can have a myriad of definitions, though, and many videogames are fun because they challenge us and are satisfying when we overcome difficult moments or battles. The House of the Dead: Overkill is fun in a more traditional way. It is fun because it is a wall-to-wall carpet of blood, guts, tits, mutants (don’t call them zombies), mad scientists, evil clowns and motherfuckers. It is fun in the same way Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror or Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Vol. 1. It is a gory, expletive-laden tribute to the low budget films of the ‘70s, and I absolutely love it for it.
Certainly, you can play the game for score, and that adds some replay value, but it isn’t difficult to just make it through. It’s like the game developers at Headstrong Games just wanted to make the most bombastic, out-and-out fun gorefest they could. And they succeeded.
Don’t assume that means this is just a rental, though. Aside from playing for score, there’s a lot of bonus content to make the game worth a second playthough. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t take long to complete, you can also buy and upgrade new weapons, and once you finish the game once, you can double wield, which means two players with four Wii remotes can have a goddamn blast, no pun intended.
There are seven stages, each a different “movie” with a trailer and all. Each movie has a unique setting, and that makes the enemies and setpieces, along with the crazy bosses, totally unique for each area. The visuals even feature film scratches and the soundtrack has dust pops. Headstrong really did their homework here, and made a game that shows their love of those exploitation films.
This game came out this week for the PS3 with Move support, new levels and a 3D mode. I haven’t played it, but I have no doubt that it’s every bit as much fun as the Wii original, which can and should be added to your collection for a pittance.
- Released: 2009
- System: Wii (Later ported to PS3)
- Publisher: SEGA