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The House of the Dead: Overkill


11:3123/02/2009Posted by David ScammellNo Comments

As gamers, there are many things in life that we’ve given up all hope on. A decent Sonic game, for starters, or a stunningly attractive girl who loves Halo Wars as much as we do (you’re not fooling anyone, Microsoft). Or perhaps, as is more relevant to this review, the light gun shooter genre.

hotd31For years the light gun shooter has been stuck in limbo, daring not to venture from its arcade roots without a significant series fanbase already behind it (we need only look at the abundance of arcade ports and Wii-makes that make up the genre’s console catalogue for evidence of that). Even then, the line-up has been less than stellar, with Capcom’s Resident Evil Gun Survivor series proving that even the pros should stick to what they know best.

Which brings us to The House of the Dead: Overkill, a title that falls into an unusual middle-ground. Neither an arcade conversion nor an abysmal spin-off, it is instead a console-exclusive rendition of the revered House of the Dead series, but with a western twist. The cheese-ridden, decidedly eastern zombie-fest has been overthrown by blaxpoitation, sex, swearing and gratuitous violence – and it works. House of the Dead finally feels relevant, brought guns blazing into the testosterone-fuelled world of Grindhouse-inspired exploitation.

hotd11We’d be lying, however, if we implied that Overkill wasn’t still a light gun shooter by numbers. The genre staples are all in place; bonus items like the point-soaring golden brains and the ingeniously titled slow motion bonus, ‘Slow MoFo’, regularly jump into view for alert players to target, while each of the game’s seven levels are made up of nothing but set-piece after set-piece, ultimately steering the player toward the compulsory end of level boss. Outside of its contemporary sheen, Overkill is anything but a reimagining of the genre.

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