February 22, 2009
House of the Dead: Overkill is an lightgun shooter set firmly on the rails – but then, I’m not sure that there’s any other kind of lightgun shooter. It doesn’t do anything inventive with the genre, but that’s okay; it’s been so long since a decent lightgun game came out I’m willing to forgive the retread.
One of the most interesting parts of this game is how they dealt with the lack of substance. Most games try to tack on a super-serious story to motivate players to progress, but not House of the Dead. They decided to embrace the mindless violence and plastered the game with drive-in horror tropes. As such, the game’s dialogue and humor are firmly in the not-safe-for-children area. One character drops the F-bomb with every line.
When I was a kid, my favorite way to waste money was to visit the local video store’s clearance bin and find the cheesiest, cheapest movie and watch it until the tape imploded. Movies like Blood Feast and The Brain that Wouldn’t Die seem like obvious sources of inspiration for this campy story.
If you’ve played a lightgun shooter befor,e you know what you’re getting into. There are only three complaints I can level at this title:
- One of the zombies carries and effectively uses a riot shield. Killing him is annoying enough for me to wish they would have figured out some other way to add variety to the monsters.
- The later level bosses feel a little tedious. You’re forced to follow a pattern of two or three scenarios that loop. In the latter levels the bosses take too many shots to kill, so you end up seeing the same few scenes five or six times in a row.
- The game does not come with a lightgun cradle for the Wiimote. It really should have, but to be honest I think I had enough fun with the Nerf peripherals to be willing to forgive this flaw.
So, shooting zombies with a lightgun? Check. Campy story with a few good laughs? Check. An excuse to turn on the Wii again? Check. I like this game.
Skip it: If you want something meaningful to happen in your game you will be disappointed. Also, if you’re under 16, you shouldn’t even try to play this game.
Rent it: House of the Dead: Overkill is a solid rental for all Wii owners. You’ll want to have a lightgun cradle for the full effect.
Buy it: Zombie-haters of the world unite! I’m willing to bet this is the most fun you’ll have hunting zombies on the Wii for a while.
February 20, 2009
If five American dollars was too much for you Canadians to pay for a pretty kick-ass game, you can now pay five loonies and walk away with said game AND some cheese. I’ve seen sales on Cheese Heads brand string cheese for as little as 99 Canadian pennies. That’s $.80 American! I’m heading north in a few weeks anyway, I’m going to stock up on Beyond Good and Evil cheese.
Oh! Apparently the game comes right in the bag, not mail-in 5 proofs of purchase or anything. There’s no reason for my Canadian friends to not own this game.
Update: Oops, source.
February 19, 2009
There was a bit of a stink about the pricing yesterday, when Stardock said they wanted twenty bones, American. I understand that perspective. This was an Xbox Live, and by definition it should run on any .NET enabled machine with minimal tinkering. Thankfully Stardock is a pretty responsive company, and they’ve adjusted the price accordingly.
February 18, 2009
It’s just me this week. I’m talking about EVE and my plans for the Left 4 Dead SDK. Enjoy.
February 17, 2009
I thought they specifically said they were not going to discuss Mass Effect 2 at GDC? Liars.
February 16, 2009
I picked up House of the Dead: Overkill for the Wii yesterday. On my way back it occurred to me I didn’t have the plastic-shell that passes for a light gun these days, so I stopped by my local Target. They didn’t have any of the Nintendo branded shells, but there were a stack of Nerf guns that break apart into Wii-peripherals for $15-$20. There was also a bundled version that comes with a game for $40. I nabbed two of the stand-alone guns and made my way home.
I called my wife to let her know about my purchases. She was skeptical of the Nerf guns, to say the least. Three steps into the apartment building and one foam dart to the butt changed her tone immediately. We had a Nerf battle all the way to our apartment, ducking into stairwells and laundry rooms for cover. Neighbors shook their heads in amazement as orange missiles whistled past their heads.
Once we got into our apartment Nietzsche the IT kitty got in on the action. Any bullet that hit the floor wound up in his mouth, which he proudly dropped at our feet, expecting another volley to chase.
Maybe I should have a kid so I don’t feel so weird buying tons of Nerf guns.
February 15, 2009
The Maw is an Xbox Live Arcade title that feels a lot like the mascot-driven 3D platformers of the late ’90s. You play as an adorable alien locked in an E.T. zoo aboard a UFO. The UFO crashes on a strange planet where you befriend a fellow prisoner, the purple-jello-looking Maw.
Between the story, character design, and gameplay, I’m a bit confused about just who this game is for. For the hardcore, the game is too cute and easy. For children, the story is a little too cruel (the Maw eats fuzzy big-eyed animals). Maybe casual gamers who aren’t scared off by overly precious art design will find the game enjoyable.
Progressing through the levels is pretty straightforward. The only real challenge is consuming 100% of the maw-chow scattered throughout the level, and I doubt that will be much of a hurdle for most gamers. The puzzles never require more than a few moments thought, and are mostly solved by “eat x creature to perform y action.”
It should be mentioned that this game has no concept of death or damage, even though the enemies do attack you. While this consequence-free design works for a game like Kingdom for Keflings, the inclusion of conflict in The Maw implies a winner and a loser, but you simply cannot lose.
One thing to look out for is the camera. When the Maw eats he grows. Near the end of the game he’ll take up the center third of the screen. By that point he’s an unstoppable juggernaut and they more-or-less do away with jumping puzzles, so it’s not a huge issue.
The biggest issue is the play time. I completed the game in a single sitting, which I’d estimate at maybe three hours. For the price I’m not complaining too loudly, but it is something to be aware of when those Microsoft Space Bucks could be put toward Braid or even a couple of movie rentals.
Skip it: The game doesn’t feel like it is meant to be played by any particular demographic. If you’re old enough to read this site you’re probably too old for this game.
Demo it: The Maw might be a good time waster. This isn’t a bad game by any means.
Buy it: It might make for an alright “Family Game Night” game as long as your children are comfortable with the circle of life.
February 13, 2009
I imagine this will completely convert my friends list to the game. It’s a weekend deal, so if you’ve been putting it off maybe now is the time to stop.
February 13, 2009
I would be a poor friend not to expose you to this awesomeness.
February 13, 2009
Reuters had a story confirming Microsoft will be opening retail stores, though the exact location(s) has yet to be disclosed. Kotaku toured a mock-up store a few weeks ago and it was decked out with Xbox and Games for Windows stuff.
My PC software comes almost exclusively from Steam, but I would like a pre-vetted source of PC hardware. Ya’know, maybe a “Will work with Windows 7 out of the box” section. Hopefully Microsoft will think to inform the games press when they start opening these stores.