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House Of The Dead: Overkill Review

And we thought the gore would be the controversial bit...

It takes a lot to shock us when it comes to controversial games. Usually when a game tries to be edgy it ends up simply being filled with lots of swearing and gore and not much else. Yes, House Of The Dead: Overkill has insane amounts of bad language and masses of gore, but it's got more. So much more.

When we watched a particular cut-scene at the end of the first level our mouth dropped open in disbelief. "Did they really just say that? That's, ummm, a brave move." These thoughts continued throughout the rest of the game as we got progressively more surprised by what we were seeing and amazed at what they were getting away with, right up to the ending. THAT ending. It'll be pretty clear to you within ten minutes of booting it up, but let us make it clear right now: House Of The Dead: Overkill is certainly NOT for children or those of a sensitive disposition. There's a very good reason it's been given a BBFC 18 rating.

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Guns On The Run

Of course, controversy aside, the important thing here is how enjoyable the game is. Thankfully it doesn't disappoint. Despite being handled by a different developer than the earlier games (Headstrong Games, who previously developed Battalion Wars 2 under the name Kuju), it still retains the classic House Of The Dead formula - loads of zombies, loads of gore and loads of incredibly cheesy voice acting.

As you'd expect, the gameplay consists of the sort of classic on-rails lightgun stuff you'd get in the arcades. You travel along a set path through seven different levels as countless zombies appear and you blow them to bits with your trusty hand cannon of choice. There are several different guns available which you can buy throughout the game, all of which can be upgraded with a faster fire rate, more bullets in each clip, a faster reload time and so on.

Naturally, the problem with arcade-style shooters is that when you're playing at home and aren't limited to the number of £1 coins you have to put into the thing, the challenge is greatly reduced and you'll find yourself completing the game pretty quickly. And yes, when you first play Overkill, this is exactly the feeling you'll get, since whenever you die you simply get to hit continue (albeit with your score halved) and carry on. As a result, if you play from start to finish non-stop, you'll have the game's seven levels beaten and seen the end credits in two or three hours.

Developer Headstrong has done everything in its power to extend the game's lifespan though, and it's succeeded as well as it could have. For starters, once you complete the game you unlock a special Director's Cut mode. This mode is a much harder version with many more zombies and a strictly limited number of lives. The levels are also substantially longer, taking you to newer (and at times grimmer) areas. In all, it's about a third longer than the standard mode. What's more, if you manage to complete the Director's Cut you then unlock another nice feature that makes the action even more enjoyable.

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Combo Number Five

If you finish the Director's Cut and no longer find that a challenge, the game also implements a combo-based scoring system that's much more addictive than we'd expected. It's a similar idea to that in games like Link's Crossbow Training and the shooting mini-game in Wii Play, only spread throughout a proper, full game. The more zombies you shoot without missing or taking damage, the more your combo meter builds up, meaning you can eventually rack up huge points if you manage to play for a long time without missing. Head shots give you much more points, leaving you with a dilemma - do you go for the smaller target (the head) and risk missing and losing the combo, or do you play it safe with body shots and get your multiplier up without the extra bonus of headshots? We're already addicted to trying to better our scores.

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Comments

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  1. thecoop Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 12:05

    Wow. I'm going to town first thing in the morning!

  2. ploiper Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 12:12

    mine just arrived in the post along with the comic book, gunna play it in a min, cant wait.

  3. chino40k Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 12:31

    Yo Mr. Writer, at the top of the page you've got the developer down as 'Hydrogen Games', I don't think Headstrong would be very pleased.

  4. ACRID Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 13:06

    NEED!

  5. phil44 Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 13:30

    best of all for boxset fans cdwow has just confirmed to me that the assie boxset version will play on a uk wii no problem, dilema get it tomorrow sepretly with hand cannon or wait and get the boxset :x :shock:

  6. SALTYB0B Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 14:30

    I didn't read it in detail..

    how does it do with the zapper??

  7. Mr Resettio Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 15:54

    shame im too young to buy it. :cry: :cry:

  8. Tommson Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 16:35

    This game is amazing! I have been playing it for hours.

    The story is realy short, but the game will last me for ages.

    Shame no online leaderboard.

    Great review though ONM, you've said pretty much exactly what I thought of it. :P 90% ;)

    I hope there is more HOTD to come.

  9. chino40k Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 16:43

    oh the mockery of it all, the postman didn't come today unless he's really really late so no HotD for me today.

    really messed my working day up that has, I've kept stopping to check if the postman has stopped outside.

  10. Wario-Man Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 19:37

    Definetly worth a rental! :D

    What annoys me is that this is the main selling point of the mag. Even though I don't but it I didn't read this review. If I bought the mag I would read it though. Oh well...

  11. The Sandbag Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 21:50

    i got it today, and am on the carny level (can't be bothered to complete it quickly). it s really funny, violent, and awesome, but i had probems withthe frame rate, which other sites have also brought up. it;s not a major problem, but it is a tiny bit annoying. it is also a challenging game, i don't think i've done any level without dying lol

  12. Akerjlg Thursday 12th Feb 2009 at 21:53

    Dear SEGA and Headstrong Games,
    That'll do, lads. That'll do nicely.
    Much Love, Ashley J Evans.

  13. G_R7 Friday 13th Feb 2009 at 08:47

    I'm getting it tonight anyway but now I really want to know what THAT ending is all about! I have my mates coming round over the weekend to play it as well.

  14. chino40k Friday 13th Feb 2009 at 10:52

    oh the mockery of it all, the postman didn't come today unless he's really really late so no HotD for me today.

    really messed my working day up that has, I've kept stopping to check if the postman has stopped outside.

    Postman turned up at a new record late at 4.55 yesterday afternoon with my collectors edition in tow, I've got as far as the swamp level last night and its really rather good. I like the extra mutants button on the level select screen.

  15. tim453 Friday 13th Feb 2009 at 11:15

    Overkill has insane amounts of bad language

    The review avoids saying if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

    My guess is that bad language is there to impress the younger player; they will somehow see this as cool.

  16. phil44 Friday 13th Feb 2009 at 19:29

    i got it today, and am on the carny level (can't be bothered to complete it quickly). it s really funny, violent, and awesome, but i had probems withthe frame rate, which other sites have also brought up. it;s not a major problem, but it is a tiny bit annoying. it is also a challenging game, i don't think i've done any level without dying lol

    yeah i got the collectors edition today and a hand cannon :oops: ... i just couldn't resist :P
    Anyway im also having major frame rate problems especially in the first chapter.
    The game itself is awsome and some really funny clechaes(i know i have mis-spealed that :lol: ) but for me hotd 2&3 and ghost squad run far more smoothly but still worth getting non the less, heres hoping this will tempt sega into releasing hotd 1 and also virtua cop 3 as in the hands of the right developer these will be awsome.

  17. Smash-bros fan Friday 13th Feb 2009 at 19:58

    YAY!!! A HARDCORE GAME!!! Take that Mario and Sonic at winter Olympics

  18. phil44 Friday 13th Feb 2009 at 23:06

    Just finished the game and you can call me sick but..... got to say that is the best most sickest ending of a game i have played, absolutley class. Glad i got the game now 8)
    Just one thing though i have not seen the hand cannon in the game what-so-ever nothing ditto nothing that resembles the piece of plastic they have sold with the game :shock:

  19. Ryu5 Friday 13th Feb 2009 at 23:10

    I REALLY HOPE TO GET THIS SOON!!!!!!

    ABSOLUTELY CANNOT WAIT TO PLAY THIS WITH MA BIG BRO (HE LOVE HOTD)!!!!!

  20. bazmeistergen Friday 13th Feb 2009 at 23:26

    This game is light-gun heaven. It's really great fun. Can't wait to play with a mate!

  21. Super_Sonic96 Saturday 14th Feb 2009 at 10:15

    lol, i started reading the review at the "crappy movie" paragraph and thought you were mad giving it 90%, but anyway, it looks awsome, and it's good to have a red gory light on the sunset of wii!

  22. The Timesplitter Saturday 14th Feb 2009 at 11:21

    Songs about necrophillia? Eesh.

  23. wariorulez Saturday 14th Feb 2009 at 15:47

    TOO. MANY. GAMES...

    Where will i find the time and money to play them all?

    HOTD, Madworld, GTA: CW, Punch-Out!!, S&P2... GAHHH!!!

  24. thecoop Sunday 15th Feb 2009 at 11:37

    I've finished Carney so far - wow. this game is something else! I'm really pleased about the length of the stages as I thought the ones in HOTD 2&3 R were a bit short at times, and the script is so funny! Washington's comeback after being asked if he is OK after the lift incident had me laughing out loud. I gotta say I haven't had many issues with the frame rate - just once in Carney, and that was on 2 player mode. I'm amzed with what they've gotten away with so far - and I have to see what THAT ending is.

    Support SEGA and Headstrong in this one - it really needs buying. Deadly Creatures too - another ace game

  25. window Sunday 15th Feb 2009 at 13:45

    Got this yesterday and have got to the end of Carny. Very good game, just what the Wii needs.

    Had to say I was disappointed at the end of the first stage. You see the guy in the wheelchair get his glasses slapped across the floor. The camera pans and follows his glasses, then in the next shot he's wearing them again................ Poor!

  26. Mama Luigi Sunday 15th Feb 2009 at 21:54

    What are you talking about? Postal 2 on PC was the most outrageous and offensive game ever.

  27. gils Monday 16th Feb 2009 at 11:53

    Thank you sega and headstrong for this hardcore gore fest.

    I love the crappy zombie movie feel it has, the only down side though is its too short and sometimes the game lags when theres loads of zombies being shot up on the screen all at once.

    But Headstrong have done a brilliant job and taken this franchise into a positive direction, i even have to stop my girlfriend wanted to play this as she loves it :-(

  28. chino40k Monday 16th Feb 2009 at 14:23

    Just finished the game and you can call me sick but..... got to say that is the best most sickest ending of a game i have played, absolutley class. Glad i got the game now 8)
    Just one thing though i have not seen the hand cannon in the game what-so-ever nothing ditto nothing that resembles the piece of plastic they have sold with the game :shock:

    The hand cannon is in the gun shop after you've completed the normal game.

  29. DBZFan355 Monday 16th Feb 2009 at 18:54

    Ummm, what exactly is it that makes it so outrageous?

  30. phil44 Monday 16th Feb 2009 at 23:38

    Ummm, what exactly is it that makes it so outrageous?

    for me its what clement does

    chino40k thanks for clearing that up for me ive completed the game just not been in the gun shop since yet. :)

  31. GuyWhoLikesBlue2 Tuesday 17th Feb 2009 at 09:19

    The advert makes me laugh. Few shots of gameplay and then "Absolutely amazing (or something like that) said official nintendo magazine!" in a big booming voice.

    Cheer up staff of ONM, you're on TV! :lol:

  32. ChrisONM Tuesday 17th Feb 2009 at 19:14

    Had to say I was disappointed at the end of the first stage. You see the guy in the wheelchair get his glasses slapped across the floor. The camera pans and follows his glasses, then in the next shot he's wearing them again................ Poor!


    Um... that was intentional. The developers actually pointed it out to me.

    It's meant to be a joke about how rubbish the continuity is on cheap, old films.

  33. chino40k Wednesday 18th Feb 2009 at 10:18

    Ummm, what exactly is it that makes it so outrageous?

    for me its what clement does

    chino40k thanks for clearing that up for me ive completed the game just not been in the gun shop since yet. :)

    have you seen what's in the gun shop when you finish the directors cut?

  34. lordofthepies Wednesday 18th Feb 2009 at 13:52

    I Just got my wii and burning cash on new games (poor Ds has hit the bottom of the wardrobe!) so to the point...

    Now i am going to get this but do i buy the hand cannon, can get them for Ł10, seems cheap enough, but is it worth it :?:

  35. Mendes Wednesday 18th Feb 2009 at 16:16

    I've finished Carney so far

    Might have to buy a Wii having read this review... that and the fact that on the Carny loading screen I'm the knife wielding clown.

    My mate did all the loading screen 'film posters' and he came round my house one night, got me to dress up as a clown, hold a knife and pretend to be a mutant zombie.

    Fantastic!

  36. hulkbuster Wednesday 18th Feb 2009 at 20:45

    I have to say that i'v played videogames for some time now but i never thought that a game such as this disgusting,filthy,depraved,sickening,vile videogame would ever have been released on the Wii.....BUT THANK GOD IT DID :D ....best HOTD ever :!: .

  37. The Sandbag Thursday 19th Feb 2009 at 16:56

    the ending is seriously dodgy, and am surprised that it wasn't banned just for that!

  38. DragonLordZ Friday 20th Feb 2009 at 11:09

    TOO. MANY. GAMES...

    Where will i find the time and money to play them all?

    HOTD, Madworld, GTA: CW, Punch-Out!!, S&P2... GAHHH!!!

    I feel your pain... and you left out dead rising.

    FAR TOO MANY GAMES!!! And new wiiware must haves sneak up on us like ninjas! NINJAS I SAY!! :shock: :!:

  39. O_Diddy_David_O Friday 20th Feb 2009 at 11:47

    The ending well you will have to wait and see.....It is pretty digusting though....A bit unexpected.....! i went over my mates to play it and it took us no more than 2 hours to complete i love the gaem but way too short......! But i am gonna buy it still...:D

  40. ToadsWorthKing Friday 20th Feb 2009 at 21:35

    Got this on Monday. It was completed by Tuesday evening. Loved the game, best game i've played this year but it could deffinitley do with 3 or 4 more levels but the gun works really smoothly and well for the game.

    The ending is pretty sick though, wasn't expecting that all all. Brilliant game though. :lol: :lol:

  41. Mcpilch Sunday 22nd Feb 2009 at 15:25

    DIS IS GONNA BE TE AWESOME! that is, if i am allowed it! *prays to God to let me get HOTD:O*

  42. TMCOFFEY Saturday 28th Feb 2009 at 12:39

    Does someone know how long it takes to finish :? :?

  43. starfox1994 Wednesday 22nd Apr 2009 at 20:20

    I just read the ending on Wikipedia. It says Clement clims into his mother's womb. Ok. Does that mean he went into her - ? Seriously? Why?

  44. maloweuk Thursday 7th May 2009 at 09:43

    Wow love this game, I brought it over the weekend and it's fantastic!! The graphics and lighting are superb and it's a lot better than another HOTD port. The whole concept of the game is great since it's based on B-movie horror films and previous HOTD games, with cheesy acting, dodgy plotlines (loving the cutscenes) and lots of humour. Even though the game is short it drags you back for more with loads of unlockables and irresistible combo system.

    The factor I really like in this game is the shaky camera effects(taken from the bad movie genre) and the gun reloading graphics which adds in element of realism and makes you think before you start blazing mutants (not zombies) with loads of bullets!

    All I can say now is thank my parents I was born in the early 80's and can play this game!! :D

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