Tired of all the super serious grimdark games that have been par for the course the last few years? Well, you're in luck as Xbox One finally gets a zany third person shooter thanks to Insomniac Games!
"Sunset Overdrive" is the love-child between "Ratchet and Clank" and "Jet Grind Radio" in that the game blends the fluid traversal of the latter with the wacky shooting of the former. Insomniac pulls out their special brand of over-the-top weapons as you bounce, grind, and blast your way through the soft drink apocalypse.
You'll have a big smile the whole time.
Dawn of the Apocalypse
The plot for "Sunset Overdrive" is just as silly as the gameplay. Fizzco -- an energy drink manufacturer -- has unwittingly released a batch of tainted batch of their latest product which resulted in a nasty side effect turning partakers into roided out mutants. You barely escaped the initial onslaught and have been holed up in your apartment as the city burns. However, leftover pizza doesn't last long enough and you're soon pushed out into a brand new world filled with monsters, gangs of punks and Fizzco security bots. It's up to you and your friends to stop them once and for all.
The city is pretty large and open for exploration. "Sunset Overdrive" takes many cues from other open world games and lets you go about your business wrapping up missions. Or you can just wander around gathering the tons of collectibles that will open new powers and unlock new equipment.
While the main game is strictly single player, there are some multiplayer options. We won't go into all the different types, but Insomniac has smartly added branching objectives after each round is complete. You'll have more than enough incentive to give MP a chance as you gain more experience and money to buy upgrades for single player.
Bumpin' and Grindin'
Movement means survival. Fortunately, you've graduated top in class at the school of parkour and pseudo-skateboarding. Littered throughout the city are rails you can grind as well as cars, vents, and overhangs that you can bounce to higher ground. You'll want to stay off your feet as much as possible because you're pretty slow when you hoof it.
You also have a myriad of guns to take out the hordes of baddies. Insomniac is known for their weird guns and they have a solid representation of their talents with Sunset's arsenal. In fact, the first gun you unlock is a flaming shotgun. Others include pistols and a record launcher that shoots vinyl at the baddies. You'll also level up and modify your weapons as you progress granting even more firepower.
The combination and emphasis on movement is what separates "Sunset Overdrive" from other action games. It's quite exhilarating whizzing around powerlines while popping off shots. You can also build up a style meter as you pull off daring acrobatics which unlock super moves, giving you an edge over your enemies. Basically, as you jump and grind and shoot, the meter builds up granting you new and powerful attacks. Keep performing stylish kills and you'll keep your advantage.
The Jokes On You
"Sunset" does one helluva job trying to make you laugh. The jokes can sometimes fall a bit flat as your character and NPCs quip about the nature of video games. The fourth wall gets shattered over and over again, and at times it can become a bit grating. Still, throw enough jokes out there and a few of them will connect. The game certainly aims for that don't give-a-$#*@ punk attitude. However, if you're into self-referential jokes and need an irreverent main character projecting "edgy" dialogue then you probably will have a grand time with the story.
The good side is that the punk aesthetics give the game a great look and feel. A vibrant, neon palette and cartoony models are a wonderful change to the hyper real graphics that other games try. The designs look really nice and the putrid, juicy mutants are appropriately gag-inducing. As you unlock new outfits -- you can create your avatar -- you can make some pretty messed up looking characters. You want a pixie chick with a handlebar mustache wearing nothing but a bikini? "Sunset Overdrive" lets you do it.
Rounding out the feel is a standard -- if slightly generic -- rock soundtrack. Reminiscent of the myriad dirty garage bands of Suburbia, USA, the punk tracks are serviceable enough to provide a pumping tune as you're pumping lead into the mass of mutants.
Insomniac Games have come out of their slump from their last couple of games -- "Fuse" in particular -- and provide a pretty fun new title for fans of silly, over-the-top gameplay that doesn't take itself too seriously. The graphics go far to work the punk nature that the team at Insomniac is pushing; and even if the jokes and plot can fall a bit on the "try hard" side, the lightheartedness of the whole affair has a quirky charm. The gameplay feels familiar but with a fresh take that makes "Sunset Overdrive" a delight to play.
"Sunset Overdrive" is available now (October 28th) for Xbox One.