by Brian Robbins
One would be hard pressed to find a more colorful game on the console market than Sunset Overdrive. In fact, it would be tough to find a title that’s so over-the-top, silly, stylish and downright fun as well. With Sunset Overdrive, originality is it’s forte, and it does it with flair.
Even the premise of the game’s campaign is ridiculous at face value: the citizens of a crazy town called Sunset City ingest a new energy drink called OverCharge Delirium XT that turns the citizens into orange-tinged monsters. Fizzco, the company who created the beverage now has the whole city of Sunset in quarantine. As the main character, your primary goal is to save the infested city and the few survivors that remain.
After you’re introduced to the wacky storyline, you’ll then be allowed to create your own custom character. Being a game that’s as wild as Sunset Overdrive, you have plenty of insane but reasonable choices; want to make a girl with a lime green mountain man beard? Go for it. Insomniac Games almost demands players to get crazy with their avatar, and it’s hysterically awesome.
Speaking of awesome, the game’s adrenaline filled shooting mechanics can feel extremely satisfying. Sunset Overdrive wants the player to keep moving otherwise he/she will be overwhelmed by the numerous mutants on the ground. To that end, you’ll find yourself grinding on rails, jumping out of trees and slamming into the mutants from above. The frenetic action emphasis is great if you like to run & gun. People that like to sit still and line up those headshots though, will find the need to change their style of play quickly if they want to survive.
As in Insomniac Games’ flagship franchise Ratchet & Clank, there are wholly original and fantastical weapons like the Teddy Bear Launcher, a Firework Assault Rifle and an Acid Spewing Fountain gun, just to name a few. Players definitely won’t find themselves lacking in the armament department. You can also upgrade these weapons with Amps that activate when the player reaches a certain combo level. This allows the weapon to be infused with different attributes such as a freezing effect or mind control.
As well as a variety of guns, as you progress through the game’s storyline you’ll have access to different outfits that you can buy from the vendor too. Just like the custom player creation choices, your options are numerous ranging from the insanely expensive Pimp Hat, or the more understated Kangaroo Codpiece; the choice is yours.
The game’s sense of fashion isn’t the only thing to look at. With the technical power of the Xbox One, Sunset Overdrive’s bright use of colors and wet aesthetic make this title one of the most visually impressive games on the system. Even with hundreds of OD, Robots and Human adversaries the framerate stayed constant. The game just runs remarkably smooth considering how much action takes place on the screen.
Sunset Overdrive isn’t without its faults either though. The matchmaking Co-Op mode, Chaos Squad is quite hard to find a match in. I’ve found myself waiting around for 10-15 minutes before I eventually logged into a game, and once I did it wasn’t very fun. The only positive thing I got out of the experience was seeing the eight different heroes with their own unique equipment; the missions were just bland otherwise.
Also, the game’s main protagonist can be unbearably annoying at times. With constant whining, bitching and tongue-and-cheek jokes, you’ll wish you were playing a silent protagonist such as Master Chief or Link. Beyond the terrible and unending puns your character will spew out, you’ll also have to deal with a few headaches revolving around the game design. Actual gameplay, especially when tasked to defend a particular objective, can quickly become overwhelming, making it difficult to decide on what to attack first. When hundreds of enemies swarm what you’re protecting it’s hard to keep pace, even with your defensive trap allies.
Still, there’s not a whole lot that Sunset Overdrive does wrong. The campaign lasted a little less than 10 hours, which some may see as light, but is pretty standard for an action/shooter. Unfortunately, after I finished Sunset Overdrive, I just didn’t feel like I’ll play it again. Even though I had a good time with it, I found myself ready to move onto the next game.
If Insomniac Games releases a sequel to Sunset Overdrive, hopefully they can find a way to engage the players a little more. The game has a cooperative mode, and there are a seemingly endless number of collectibles to find in the open world environment. After completing the campaign though, neither of those options had any real appeal. There’s DLC on the way in the very near future but if you’re like me, it likely won’t be enough to entice you back into Sunset City.