Being loud, colourful and way over the top is bound to get you noticed, so perhaps that's what was on Insomniac's mind when dreaming up Sunset Overdrive. It's a game which is so in your face that you'll need to move out the way or be drowned by its Overcharge soaked action and while it will drag you in to the wonders of Sunset City, you may often forget the reason you are there in the first place.
As you'd expect from a game which seems to revel in the ridiculous, the plot in Sunset Overdrive makes little sense. Fizzco, a evil carbonated drink company, has poisoned the citizens of Sunset City, turning them into violent, ugly beasts known as the OD. It's your job to fight your way through them and get out of the city, although that's easier said than done.
Before you kick off the game you'll choose your character using the customisation system. Here you'll choose the sex and look of your character from a wide variety of options. As you play through the game you can customise your character more, adding new clothing, tattoos or even a new hair style. There's some great choices here and the more bizarre your character looks the better.
Once you head into the game escaping is part of the fun as you use an over-the-top selection of powerful and ridiculous weaponry to fight your way through the hordes. As you'd expect, it's not really as simple as just heading to the exit and leaving the city. Instead you'll find yourself head out on all manner of fetch style quests as you do favours for others in order to get what you need to escape. This obviously results in a lot of repetitive gameplay as you head from one area to another, fighting your way through different enemies before returning to find out your next task. Thankfully though there are a few surprises along the way that help mix up the action and with it being as over the top as it is, you're never likely to lose interest too quickly.
The enemies you'll face in Sunset Overdrive are quite varied. There's the OD Monsters, Fizzco robots, and scabs, the latter of which are just humans who seem to shoot at you for the fun of it. In order to take the enemy down you'll use bushes and car hoods to bounce in the air and/or grind around rails and any other obstacles you can find in order to get as best an advantage as you can. Once you are off the ground you can then simply aim with your guns and shoot their brains out. Staying off the ground is imperative really as being on solid land will see you surrounded by all manner of beasts and killed near enough instantly, although you can melee should you find yourself in a sticky situation.
Given that Sunset Overdrive is an open world style game, you'll certainly have plenty of places to explore. The city is large and has plenty of collectables spread around for you to find and make use of. Everywhere you look is bright, almost cartoonish coat that lights up all around it and when fighting the city comes to life, with monsters exploding in a sea of orange and the scenery passing by at speed as you grind your way to victory against the latest wave of enemies.
Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of the game is actually staying off the ground, but doing so will reward you as by grinding, using automatic weapons, and air dashing, you'll earn badges. These can then be swapped out for overdrives, which can boost weapon strength, or grant you health and more. These are similar to Amps, the games way of giving you an extra arm up in battle. Amps can be cooked by one of the NPC's providing you gather the correct ingredients and bring them to him. Often this will see you defending the kitchen vats from hordes of beasts, before being rewarded with the new Amps for your efforts.
If you fancy mixing it up a little then Sunset Overdrive does include a mutliplayer mode known as Chaos Squad. In this mode you and seven other players take on hordes of enemies while defending outposts, and in a way, trying to get to the top yourself. You see individual performances are recorded, so while you'll work as a team, you'll still want to perform the best. All of this comes to a head when you need to collaborate to destroy a base or hack a transmitter and the overall winner is revealed.
One thing which did upset me about Sunset Overdrive is the amount of swearing in the game. As I say, the game is loud and brash, but to me it feels very unnecessary for the game to subject the player to so much cursing what feels like every two seconds. Thankfully, according to Insomniac, there is an option to turn this off.
As you can tell, I'm a bit conflicted when it comes to Sunset Overdrive. I completed the game and at times really enjoyed it, but at other times just wanted to throw my controller at the TV. It's a bit like watching an American teen movie, where the characters are really annoying, but you keep watching anyway because there's nothing else on Netflix. It's colourful, full of action and fun to play in short bursts, but playing for 10 hours straight is probably not recommended. The main problem for me is that the first few hours of the game are very slow and actually quite boring, with many tasks being repeated throughout. Thankfully after the initial grind things start to get a lot better, with a greater variety of enemies to fight and more interesting missions, although it still generally boils down to collecting something or finding someone.
Sunset Overdrive won't be for everyone, you have to admire Microsoft for investing in a new IP that is as action packed as it is over the top.
Words by Joe Anderson.
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: Xbox One)
+ Colourful & Fun
+ Over the top action
+ Combat is fun and a little different
+ Large open world to explore
- Too much swearing
- Main characters are annoying
- Too many fetch quests