Total Overdose puts you in the shoes of Ramiro Cruz, an over-the-top macho undercover agent, working for the DEA to crack a huge drug deal in South America. And since these drug lords slaughtered his father, Ramiro is very willing to ‘help out'. It’s all an incredibly exaggerated story that plays out, all the while keeping a stereotypical Mexican setting.
The game plays like a classic Robert Rodriguez film, with less talk and more action. Full of Mexican clichés and cheesy voice acting, you’ll be laughing all the way through each of the missions, till the relatively abrupt end (takes about 7-8 hours). The game does have its ups and downs, but unfortunately it seems to suffer from lack of polish in some of the gameplay mechanisms.
To say the driving physics are less than perfect would be an understatement. Driving into a wall will do one of two things; it will either make you stop suddenly (as expected), or it’ll send you flying off on some random angle. Driving over bumps in the dirt will cause you to go up onto two wheels, which isn’t so bad, but when you realize that your car isn’t coming back down then you have to start to wonder. Your vehicle also often goes hood-first into the ground at times, and decides to get stuck there. This novelty of being able to drive to your destination instead of walking wears off after a short time, and you’re left wondering how such a promising mode could go so wrong. It appears to be ‘borrowed’ gameplay which just doesn’t fit in properly.
On foot is slightly better, but can feel ‘clunky’ at times. The controls are more similar to Driv3r than they are GTA, as the left analog stick is used for movement in straight lines, and the right analog stick is used for the direction you want to face (and in turn, move in). It’s a little hard to get used to for the first hour or so, but after that you’ll be spinning about with dual shotguns blasting enemies from east to west.
Original gameplay does manage to shine through, in the form of ‘loco moves’. These over-the-top Mexican cliché and stereotypical attacks are a treat when you perform them. From carrying dual guitar cases which literally spray thousands of bullets all over the show, to becoming a rampaging bull; if it’s Mexican, it’ll be there. The loco moves are earned by either completing the missions throughout the game, or awarded when you rake up an impressive kill combo.
Aside from these loco moves, the classic gun slinging abilities are out in force. From pistols, to shotguns, to assault rifles, there is a wide variety of weapons to choose from. You can even use machetes, baseball bats, and rakes if you’re all out of ammo. Using the guns is fairly simple, with just an aim and shoot mechanism. However, it’s once you learn how to do all the special tricks that it gets a bit more fun. You are able to dive in any direction in slow motion, dubbed in the game as ‘Shootdodge’. You are also able to run up and jump off walls, in order to dodge the enemies’ bullets, and perform some pretty cool kills on them.
One part of the gameplay which seems out of place is the ‘rewind’ ability. After collecting the rewind icon pickups, you are able to press the down arrow on the d-pad at any time and you can literally rewind events about 10 seconds. While it is a cool feature, it seems to be an odd addition.
While progressing through the game, you’ll be able to visit other areas of the game world. Each time you go from one part of the city, to another (marked with a blue haze, and icon) you’ll be greeted with a nice long load. It’s incredibly frustrating to be driving along, accidentally go into one of these icons, and have to wait for it to load to only turn around and go back and have it load once again. Perhaps more irritating is the non-existent ability to be able to exit the menu to choose which part of the city you would like to visit if you accidentally run into one of these aforementioned icons.
The graphics are on the lower end of some of the latest PS2 games, but can hold their own with games of the same genre. You will encounter some graphical glitches, especially when driving or walking in close areas. The camera will sometimes zoom in and out when it decides it wants to, and occasionally zooms into the inside of your character. Not to mention that the character models look blocky.
The sound is a mixed bag. On one hand you’ve got the over-the-top voice acting, creating a very stereotypical sounding Mexican atmosphere. On the other hand you’ve got a good selection of music which will keep you in the mood to kill. The music will pipe-up when enemies are close, and it accompanies the sound of bullets tearing through the air perfectly.
Total Overdose doesn’t seem to be the game that it could have been. It’s too short, it’s extremely cheesy and aside from the gun-slinging combat, you’ll be left wondering if there is anything fun to do. Fans of shoot-em up games who are looking for a short, fun, gun fighting game could take a look at this, but it would be recommended that you simply hire out the game.