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The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut
Score: 74%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Headstrong Games
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Shooter/ Arcade

Graphics & Sound:
The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut is a revamped re-release of a game that previously appeared on the Wii, and unfortunately, it looks it, but let me give props where they are due: the developers were going for an over-the-top Grindhouse style with HOD: Overkill and they absolutely nailed it. Whether it's the trippy Intermission message that plays before levels, the 70's funk background music, the torrent of profanity throughout the game, or the gory and graphic violence depicted, you know you are in for a Grindhouse experience from the moment you boot the game. Seriously, The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut is like Quentin Tarentino and Robert Rodriguez sexually assaulted your PS3 and this is the unholy progeny of that event... and HOD: Overkill is completely unapologetic about it. That being said, if you are looking for a rail shooter with gobs of gore, foul language, gun-toting strippers and bad-assed cops, you've come to the right place.

The downside that I mentioned earlier is the fact that this was a Wii game and it still looks like it. The hair, especially, is just horrible looking and there are jaggies aplenty. It's simply not a pretty game, so don't expect super smooth graphics, even though it has been revamped for HD. The game is also 3D compatible, although I don't have a 3D rig, so I can't speak to how it looks. Levels will have you visiting Papa Caesar's creepy mansion, Varla and Candi's strip club, the local hospital, a carnival, and a stinky swamp, among others.


Gameplay:
The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut is a rail shooter, plain and simple. At different times, you'll play as either Agent G or Isaac Washington, sent to investigate the evil doings of Papa Caesar when a zombie outbreak occurs in Bayou City. At other times, you'll play as either Varla Guns or Candi Stryper, two strippers both connected to Jasper Guns, the wheelchair-bound brainchild behind Caesar's dastardly activities. ...Or is he?

As one of these folks (depending on the level), you'll be tasked with shooting the many zombies that block your way as you attempt to track down and kill Papa Caesar. Some zombies are slow, some are fast and some hurl projectiles at you. You'll need to be fast and somewhat accurate if you are to survive the game. On the upside, if you die, you simply come back again right where you left off, only it will cost you some of your hard-earned points. Between levels, you'll have a chance to turn some of the cash you collect during the levels into better guns and upgrades for those guns. Since your reload on your pistol is mighty slow, any upgrade is appreciated.

Once you have beaten the game, you can unlock tweaks to make things more lively, things like having additional zombies in your path, the ability to wield dual guns (if you have 2 PS Moves/Sharp Shooters), Hardcore Mode (headshots only) and a little game called Shoot the Sh*t. Here, the curse words during cut scenes are colored red and if you can shoot them before they are spoken, they'll be bleeped out and covered up. It's an amusing side game. There are also three mini-games based on accomplishments within the main Story Mode. Here, you'll either save the civilian in Victim Support, try and survive in Stayin' Alive or shoot the targets in Money Shot II. These are basically just practice levels.


Difficulty:
Control in The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut is not exceptionally tight, so that makes things that much harder, but I'll talk more about that in Game Mechanics. Control aside, the game is not super easy, but it is doable, especially since you have nearly unlimited continues, as long as you are able to shoot enough zombies to make the points required to keep on going. The really frustrating and difficult parts of the game are the boss battles. Some are so tedious - especially if you are playing the game alone. It can get to the point that you don't want to continue, even if you have enough points to do so. This is a game best played with two players.

Game Mechanics:
The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut allows you to play with either the PS Move or the controller, but the PS Move works considerably better than a standard controller. Even better, yet, is the Sharp Shooter, if you have one. If not, however, you can make do without.

When you have more than one player, both reticules will appear on the screen, so it works to have one person cover the left and one the right. If you are playing with a controller, you'll control your reticule with the Left Analog Stick and shoot by pressing (X), while reload is done with the (Square) button. If you are using the Move, you'll shoot with the Trigger and waggle the Move to move about, while you'll reload with the squiggle button in the center of the Move. If you are using the Sharp Shooter with the Move, you can place your hand under the gun to steady it, making your shots line up a little bit better.

As you go through the various levels, there will be objects scattered about that you can shoot, such as the red molecule looking object that turns on Slo-Mo-Fo, which makes everything slow down to a crawl to help with head shots, etc. You can also unlock concept art, 3D models, audio tracks and more by shooting the appropriate model in-game. Lastly, you can shoot money and ammo to add to your stockpile of each. You can carry two guns at a time and, since reloading can take some time, it helps to be able to hit the (Triangle) button to jump to another weapon if you are bombarded.

Upon completion of the game, you can unlock the Director's Cut which, from what I can tell, has some different angles and a bit of extra stuff to do in each level; things like dropping to the floor and having to shoot zombies as they crawl towards you. Just like in the Director's Cut of a film, it's all about the camera angles.

If you like rail shooters and are looking for a completely wrong and unapologetically rude game done in Grindhouse style, The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut would be a perfect rental for you. I can't see anyone going back to this game over and over, simply because the gameplay gets old, but it would be a fun weekend romp for two people who like rail shooters and aren't easily offended.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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