The House of the Dead: Overkill is the latest in a long line of zombie-hunting titles that date back to the Saturn. It tells of the series' roots in one of the goriest games to hit the Wii.
In this instalment, you - and a friend, via cooperative play - can take the role of Agent G and foul mouthed cop, Isaac Washington, who swears so much that this title broke the record of most swearing in a videogame. Suffice to say, this isn’t one for the stereotypical Wii player.
The House of the Dead: Overkill provides a fresh take on light gun controls, sitting somewhere between mouse and light gun control due to the sensitivity of the Wii remote; instead of aiming a gun at the screen you’re merely moving a curser to target the incoming zombies. Although it would have been nice to have 1:1 motion control, the advantage of the less convincing controls is that no one will ever get a sore arm playing this, nor will they accidentally break anyone’s jaw.
The initial story mode is tailored toward newbies and continuing after a death will only knock a few points off. There are fewer zombies, and the bosses - while still posing a challenge - go down with minimal effort. It consists of seven levels designed to look like b-grade horror films, and each one has a boss battle at the end and its own theme. The first level is actually the only one that takes place in a ‘house’ - then it’s on to a hospital, train, and other locales.
After you’ve finished the main story mode you can play through the ‘uncut’ version in Overkill mode. It offers up more zombies and limits the amount of continues to three, making it much harder. Although as hard as it gets, just like the previous story mode, you earn money to upgrade guns - even if you don’t make it past the first boss.
Before each level you can take a look at the gun shop which features a selection of shotguns, pistols and automatics. Each one can be upgraded in various areas including their recoil reduction, firing rate, clip size, damage and reload time. Should you need a bit more firepower you can switch between guns on single controller, get a second and dual-wield, or play co-op.
Visually The House of the Dead: Overkill is one of the goriest titles on Wii; the blood comes gushing out in excess and zombies will break up in a bloody mess. The violence is mildly censored by a ‘film’ effect on the camera designed to give you the feeling of playing a 1950’s horror flick. Although it looks great, the visuals are on the blurry side with low resolution textures, and the frame rate dips occasionally.
The inconsistent frame rate can be a problem when collecting pick-ups scattered throughout the levels, such as the brains - necessary to unlock movies and music. Other pick-ups which have a direct impact on gameplay include the health packs, and ‘slow mo-fo’ which turns on a bullet-time effect.
On the multiplayer front The House of the Dead: Overkill packs three mini-games to play with up to three friends. First we have Stayin’ Alive, in which players shoot through waves of enemies and see who survives the longest. Next is Victim Support, in which players have to rescue as many civilians as possible before the time runs out. Last is Money Shot II, a simple target shooting game – shoot targets, avoid hitting bombs.
When the last zombie limbs fall, the additional multiplayer modes are passable in the face of cooperative play in the story mode – dual wielding is great too. The only thing letting this down are the frame rate dips. This is a great single and multiplayer title, worth a rent at the very least.