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Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One) Review

Have you ever wondered what Jet Set Radio would be like with zombies, strange (to say the least) guns, and ridiculous amounts of customization? Well if you haven’t you should, because that’s exactly what Sunset Overdrive is… only dare I say it, somehow more insane.

Sunset Overdrive’s loaded with plenty that goes ‘boom’

Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive begins with the launch of a new energy drink called Overcharge Delirium XT. You don’t really have anything to do with that though, and are cast as a lowly street cleaner who’s simply there to clear away the garbage that everyday people tend to toss onto the city streets and forget about. Things quickly go wrong however (obviously), as everyone who drank it (which appears to be most of the city’s population), turns into horrid oozing mutants.

Your character decides that this is the perfect time to go absolutely nuts, as this has been dubbed the “Awesomepocalypse”, and rules are gone with the rest of the world. That’s basically the gist of the story. It’s a little deeper than that, don’t get me wrong, but the general idea is “rules are gone, we don’t have to feel bad for killing these things, let’s have some fun”.

While I wouldn’t say it possesses Saints Row 2 (my favorite game of all time BTW) amounts of customization, it definitely allows for some serious experimentation, primarily in the clothing section (seriously, there’s a lot of clothes). During my time with the game, one of my friends came over and we designed a monstrosity that would make even the most insane Saints Row creation scream… with excitement or terror, we could not decide. The customization section of SO alone was a blast is my point, and I had a ton of fun building my character(s).

You’ll meet a few allies as you purge the city of nasty mutants

And speaking of friends, the multiplayer mode called Chaos Squad is actually really fun and enjoyable. Not feeling like a taacked-on feature at all, it allows you to hop around semi-open world missions, each with different goals.

The one I had the most fun with involved grinding on just about everything in sight, and whichever of us playing hit the strangest places, or did the most grinds, racked up the most points. It reminded me a great deal of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’s Graffiti Mode, if you remember that form the THPS series of skateboarding titles.

I have to get back to the arsenal in SO too. I mentioned earlier the strange guns, and I wasn’t kidding. There are a huge variety of weapons, from the Flaming Compensator (yep), to the TNTeddy, which is a gun that shoots teddy bears with dynamite strapped to them. No seriously, it does and it’s awesome.

It would be no fun just to tell you all the different kinds though, so I’m not going to run through any more of them here. And that’s basically because then it wouldn’t leave any surprise for you while playing, and the discovery of new hardware is a really fun in-game moment pretty much across the boards. But I will say this, there are some… creative ones. And creatively named ones for the more typical weapons… okay I’m done.

Above everything else that I mentioned already, probably my favorite thing about the game (other than the pitch perfect humor, which is never overbearing and wonderfully enjoyable) is the art style. It matches well with the quirky, cartoonish humor of the game. Ironically, while it’s one of my favorite things about Sunset Overdrive, I have very little to actually go into detail on about it, since there’s really nothing to say except that it’s over-the-top, bold, and bright- especially when put up against the army of comparatively dull-palleted action games out there.

I also found that Sunset Overdrive was way more fun to play as a female lead. Though the game isn’t skewed any one way and allows you to play as either a male or female, the customization options (such as clothes, accessories, and etc.), while still the same for both sexes, all look really good on the female models (if you know what I mean… someone out there is gonna kill me for that one). Aside from that, I also actually really love the work of the actress Stephanie Lemelin, who provided the voice work here. In my opinion she should be in more things, as she did a stellar job in SO.

The arsenal and customization choices are inspired

The only real flaw I can find with the game, and unfortunately this kind of brought down the experience for me, is the movement. That’s right, the thing the entire game is based around, is really the only problem I have with it. While it’s a blast to swing on street lights and bounce on cars (it really is awesome), the controls themselves are too loose for me, and I found myself getting frustrated on multiple occasions. It just didn’t have the tight, spot-on level of control that I would have expected, which is something of a shame for  title that does pretty much everything else right.

Final Thoughts

Sunset Overdrive is a riot, plain and simple.

Many things in the game actually made me laugh (something most games as of late fail to do at way too many things… and mostly on purpose). It’s definitely the busiest game I’ve seen in a long time too, with so much stuff going on at once on-screen that I often found it hard to focus on the task at hand, whatever that might have been at the moment.

Other than the story missions there’s a huge amount of stuff to do on the side as well, particularly with those ChaosSquad missions. There’s a lot of positives about Sunset Overdrive, plenty to fill up a review (as you can see), but that one negative sticks out pretty far being that it’s the game’s control mechanics. If you can look past that, and you probably should given how great everything else is, you should definitely give Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive a shot. I

t’s an absolute blast to play and a terrific addition to the Xbox One’s library.

About Jake Callier

Five parts actual review, 2 parts sarcasm, 2 parts bad puns, and one part self loathing = one of my game reviews.

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