Review: The House of the Dead: Overkill: Extended Cut Yields Bad Language and Bullets Galore
At a Glance
2009's The House of the Dead: Overkill provided light gun shooter fans with a refreshingly irreverent take on the series' classic formula of slaying the undead. It's undoubtedly one of the most unique romps available on Wii, and certainly one of the most gleefully profane, thanks to Detective Isaac Washington's potty mouth. Sega has seen fit to re-release it in a reglossed HD package. The House of the Dead: Overkill: Extended Cut incorporates the bells and whistles of PS3 gaming --Move wand, HD assets, 3D gameplay-- into an entertaining and sanguine package.
Overkill is a prequel to the classic HotD titles. Series protagonist Agent G is in the Louisiana bayous chasing down mad scientist Papa Caesar, whose genetic experiments have created widespread zomb-- er, mutations amidst the general populace. He's reluctantly paired with Detective Washington --who never misses an opportunity to plant an f-bomb into a sentence-- to splatter gray matter (and black, and dark red, and...) on the pavement. They team up with out-for-vengeance Varla Guns to take down Caesar.
Overkill's charm truly comes from its presentation, which toes the line between homage and full-on aping of the Planet Terror chapter of the film Grindhouse. From the 70s-style faux-trailers that introduce each level to the funky porn-chic soundtrack, it's unapologetic about its B-movie aesthetic, and that drives its charm home. It's also a clever method to dress up a genre that hit a glass ceiling some years ago.
Extended Cut addresses the visual performance issues seen on the Wii version, such as framerate troubles. It adds more collectibles, though they occasionally blend a bit too well into the HD backgrounds compared to the shining golden skulls in the prior incarnation. Extended Cut also supplements the experience with 3D gameplay. It supports both stereoscopic and anaglyphic 3D, so whether you own an expensive new set or an LCD TV, you'll be able to put on glasses and watch as a variety of necrotic fluids spatter your screen. While I wish Headstrong had enabled real-time onscreen 3D testing and the ability to reverse lens colors for anaglyphic glasses (I had to wear my TriOviz specs upside down to play), the 3D adds another layer of gimmicky fun to a game that bathes in gimmicks.
Although Extended Cut allows you to play with a Dual Shock, you'll absolutely want to use the Move wand to aim and shoot at the hordes of enemies. There are some quirks to the Move that sometimes left me wanting for the less-complex Wii setup. I found that reloads required some extra effort to wave the Move wand, or slapping it in a "load a fresh clip" motion. I expected more sensitivity. Also, my shooting partner, with whom I cleared the Wii game in one sitting, had problems with responsiveness while shooting the default pistol. At times, my calibration felt out of whack, and as a result, I had to overcompensate my aim.
Additionally, it features online leaderboards and two bonus levels featuring Candy Striper, a stripper with a connection to Varla, such as "Naked Terror," a stage in a gentleman's club that allows you the twofer of smiting undead bikers and strippers. Both levels add a little more content to stretch the game out, as well as some truly disgusting bosses.
The House of the Dead: Overkill: Extended Cut adds more content to a raunchy, entertaining romp. If you got tired of Detective Washington's non-stop cursing while playing it before, you'll find no reprieve here. But if you've never experienced it, or you're hankering to test drive it in HD, it's well worth your while. Although it has some motion control quirks and some questionable design decisions, it's the definitive version of Overkill. Gaming doesn't get guilty pleasures like these very often. Take advantage.