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Sunset Overdrive Review: Insomniac Games Does It Again

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Sunset Overdrive is from Ratchet and Clank superstar developer, Insomniac Games. The company has been branching out of the videogame comfort zone for a few years now. First it was the Resistance trilogy, then they gave us a Co-Op shooter known as FUSE, and now, exclusively on the Xbox One, an Open World Frenetic Shooter. I must say that I am a massive fan of everything Insomniac creates. Ratchet and Clank is my favorite gaming franchise and while I was a bit disappointed with FUSE I thought it was still pretty enjoyable. When it was announced that Sunset Overdrive was going to be exclusive to the Xbox One (I hope it stays that way), I had a justifiable reason to be as excited for the Xbox One as the Ratchet and Clank reboot makes me for the for the PS4.

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You play as a janitor who is thrown into a world of mutants in an instant. He joins a group of survivors and uses his knack for killing mutants to get shit done. Fizzco released an energy drink called OverCharge Delirium XT and it was rushed to production with no FDA approval. As such, it cased the endocrine system of people that drank it to go haywire and transform them into mutants. Finally, an enemy that is not zombies. Since the outbreak, Fizzco has been keeping everything underwraps and no one outside of the Sunset City knows what is going on or why the city is quarantined. Your character must work with a group of survivors to expose the truth about the energy drink and Fizzco.

The story is pretty good with nice pacing. One of my favorite aspects of the story is that you only experience what directly involves your character. So you learn everything about Fizzco or the energy drink when he does, it creates a nice atmosphere. The characters are very diverse as well. Insomniac Games is known for creative, fun, and enjoyable stories, and Sunset Overdrive is no exception. The humor is also on point. Everything is incredibly sarcastic and there is consistent breaking of the 4th Wall. What makes Sunset Overdrive funny, though, is the atmosphere when the humor is delivered. The city in Sunset Overdrive isn’t a happy one. People are dying and at their wit’s end. They just want everything to stop and go back to the way it was. Juxtaposing that dark setting, you have your character run around in a mask scaring the bandits that are occupying the pier to hilarious effect. Sunset Overdrive‘s delivery on the humor is what makes it funny, not the jokes themselves. This juxtaposition is why I don’t find games like Saints Row 4 funny: the world of Saints Row 4 itself is trying too hard to be crazy and out of the box.

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Gameplay is really where Sunset Overdrive shines. The game is fast and challenging. There are plenty of mechanics and small aspects to the combat of Sunset Overdrive I will try to explain it the best I can. You will grind, jump, roll, and bounce to continue to build a style meter. This meter dictates when your skills, known as amps, will come into play. At certain style levels you will turn cars into flaming deathtraps or your melee attacks will fire a wave of electricity at your enemies. The key is to keep moving while staying off the ground. Grinding is the best way to build style but you can’t just keep grinding in a circle killing mutants. The game encourages you to change it up in terms of how you traverse your environment and fight enemies.

There are three types of enemies you will fight, Scabs, OD, and Fizzco Robots. Scabs are the human bandits that loot the city and are your typical bad guys. OD are the mutants that have been changed by OverCharge. Fizzco Robots are…well…Robots owned by Fizzco, your weapons all have an affinity to take into account and they will be useful against certain enemies. The “Flaming Compensator” is great vs OD and not so much against Robots. There are a lot of weapons to use in this game and they all serve a purpose, it is up to you how to use them. My favorite weapon is one you get fairly early and it is useful at all stages of the game, the TNT Teddy.

The game starts off a bit slow and challenging because you are dropped into the middle of the firefight with little practice on how to move about the city. After a few story missions and in game challenges, you get the hang of grinding, bouncing, and wall running easily. The game is surprisingly simple to pick up and it doesn’t rush you into completing the story, you can stop doing the story and goof around if you want. Practice makes perfect in this game and learning to use your environment correctly is quite a challenge, but a fun one.

Sunset Overdrive does have multiplayer. It is a mix of Co-Op and PvP. It is called Chaos Squad and you will do a series of matches and depending on your success, you will have to fight of large hordes of OD in a final mission that will complete the Chaos Squad session and give you massive awards. There are different modes to play ranging from gathering materials to killing a certain number of OD before a timer runs out. The better everyone does, the more challenging the final fight is, but it is also much more rewarding. Chaos Squad is incredibly rewarding and is a nice break from the standard flow of the story mode.

sunset_overdrive_review_las_catrinasWhat I don’t like about Sunset Overdrive are the lack of body customization options, and the excessive item collection side quests. First, the customization. Clothing wise, there is so much to choose form, and you can look ridiculous, or totally badass, and everything in between. What is really disappointing is the lack of body types to choose from. Fit Male 1 and 2, Fit Female 1 and 2. What if I wanted to play as a fat guy in short shorts with a pink mowhawk, crocs, and a tanktop? I understand it is somewhat of a personal preference to want more customization options, but the game kind of campaigned on this sort of thing, and it was disappointing to see such a limited pool of choices. The next issue is the collection missions. You know how you had those feathers and flags to collect in the first Assassin’s Creed game? Yeah imagine that, but with even more things to collect. Except now you NEED them for upgrades. This is something I always found a problem with. It is collecting something, just for the sake of filler. Collecting stuff like toilet paper, stinky shoes, and neon signs kind of sticks out in a game like this, and it comes off as “fake” content.

The final product of Sunset Overdrive is still a very satisfying one. It is by far the best game on the Xbox One. It controls well, the multiplayer is fun, it has rather nice replay value (if you like collecting everything). The comical art style and humor is fantastic despite being incredibly dry and sometimes cringey. Sunset Overdrive shows you can still be unique and original in the gaming industry. If you have a Xbox One. You need to purchase this game.

About Zach Martinez

Freelancer here at Armed Gamer, North American Video Game Correspondent for Following the Nerd, and a regular on Examiner.com, Zach has made somewhat of a name for himself at the age of 23. He has been writing professionally for just over 5 years now. He doesn't care about resolution or frames per second, he cares about what matters most, the games. You can reach reach him directly at zach.martinez09395@yahoo.com.

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