Thursday, 19 February 2009

Review - The House of the Dead: Overkill

A Guest Review by Mr Party Hat

  • Game: The House of the Dead: Overkill
  • Format: Wii
  • Other Formats: None
  • Developer: Headstrong Games
  • Publisher: SEGA
  • Genre: Motherfuckin' Light-Gun Game
There are certain games that feel as though they don't want to be played, games that keep you at a distance lest you see the cracks in the foundation, the precisely oiled wheels that keep everything perfect in its sterility. The House of the Dead: Overkill is not one of those games. Overkill is a motherfucker of a videogame, a fourteen year old hussy that will flash you pink in the detention hall for a fiver and a lollipop.

The premise is simple and almost offensively transparent, riding on the coat-tails of Grindhouse, Tarantino's B-Movie love letter. Much of the over-indulgence of Grindhouse is (thankfully) held back by the limitations of the Wii. Tarantino had a multi-million dollar budget with which to make something appear as though it had been made for ten grand, the developers of Overkill were working with - to borrow a line from the game's protagonist - a 'fucking cripple' of a console. Inevitably this has worked, and as such it stands not as a pastiche of B-Movie 'art' but as an example of it.

It's an ugly, ugly weird-ass game. It's not trying to be anything different.

is an ugly game, both intentionally and technically. The edges aren't so much rough as non-existent, worn away to reveal the poles that were holding the edges up. It not only has the audacity to deal with issues that other videogames simply wouldn't touch, it actively hunts them down and shits in their bed. Early on you're confronted by a paralyzed, wheelchair bound scientist, who is being beaten by his carer. Moments later, on the advice of Agent G, "this motherfucking cripple has got to die". The game begs you to be offended, to throw your hands up and protest, then it shoots your hand and sticks its dick in the hole shouting STIGMATAFUCK!

There are flaws. Rather, there are flaws which hinder the game alongside those that make it wonderful. The unfortunate placement of the SEGA name, whilst perhaps necessary to drive sales, throws up images of executives in suits talking 'gangsta', trying to be down with the kids. In later levels the dialogue begins to sound forced, proving that motherfucker is only funny the first few times it comes from your Nintendobox. The aiming, too, suffers from a lag that I don't remember being present on the arcade HotD games.

But they are small flaws. Overkill is a game that wants you inside it, a game that would wipe its dick on your curtains and never call back. It's filthy heaven to play, and if you can get past the feeling of violation once you turn off your Wii, it's a game that you need to play.