Review | 10/31/2011 at 12:39 PM

The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut Co-Op Review


The House of the Dead series is near and dear to my heart.  I’ve been a big fan of the franchise ever since I played the first light gun arcade game, enjoying the two player local co-op (no online, sorry), branching paths, over-the-top gore, and crazy bosses.  I remember picking up two light guns for my Dreamcast so that I could dual wield when I played The House the Dead 2 in college.  I was delighted when my roommate or girlfriend would join me for a couch co-op game.  I was more than a little excited, (and perplexed) when I heard the gory series was being released on the Wii a few years ago.

The House of the Dead: Overkill first appeared on the Wii in 2009, and was a re-imaging of the franchise.  While HotD Three and Four took the game into a sci-fi future, Overkill was a prequel.  It was heavily inspired by exploitation films of the 70’s, and developer Headstrong Games reveled in grindhouse nostalgia.  Not only was Overkill full of violence, it was overflowing with profanity and lewd themes.  There were even doses of incest and necrophilia, all wielded with the subtly of a sledgehammer.  You can check out our favorable review of the Wii version here.

The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut is the latest PS3 port featuring HD graphics, a new character, and new levels.  If you loved Overkill, you’ll love this.  If you’re new to Overkill, or new to the series, I’ll let this video break it down for you:

Warning!  This video is offensive to everyone.  I said EVERYONE, dammit!

That pretty much sums it up.

You’ll play as AMS Special Agent G.  I don’t know what "AMS" stands for, or even "G," for that matter.  I’d like to think "AMS" stands for "Awesome Mad Skills," and that the "G" stands for "Gilgamesh," but that’s just me.  The second player will be given the pleasure of playing as Detective Isaac Washington, who doesn’t speak English, he speaks F***, with random words tossed in for inflection.  (Yes, Overkill did at one time hold the world record for most profane game, ever.)  Our two heroes are on the trail of vile madman Papa Caesar, whose wicked experiments have caused an outbreak of zombies, or mutants, or mutant zombies, or zombie mutants.  It doesn’t really matter what they are.  All you need to know is that you have to shoot those m************ before they f****** kill you first.  

Overkill - Extended Cut is a rail shooter/light gun game that can be played with the PS3 controller or Move.  I cannot recommend the normal controller; it just doesn’t work well.   Awkwardly moving a site reticule around a screen with an analog stick is a punishment best left to one of the lower circles of hell.  I didn't see any way to enable Sixaxis motion control, either. 

My wife and I used two PlayStation Move motion controllers to great effect.  We weren’t using any other peripherals, such as the Sharp Shooter or other faux-gun plastic devices.  The normal “wand” worked fine for us.  Each time we started up a game we quickly calibrated our Moves, and soon we were  scoring headshots effortlessly.  When we knocked out several combination kills we were rewarded with the guttural exclamation of "Goregasm!," which jacked up our score multiplier to god-like levels.


We battled through levels called “Papa’s Palace of Pain,” “Fetid Waters,” and “Scream Train.”  Each one was presented as a grainy feature film, complete with mega-intense, gravely-voiced narration.  The two new levels, “Naked Terror” and “Creeping Flesh,” let us play as the sultry Varla Guns and the vacant Candi Stryper.  Varla returns from Overkill, but Candi is a new character, and boy, is she awful.  She does provide some mindless T&A, so that’s something, right?  The new stages offer extra story chunks for Varla’s character, not that we need them.  The new levels are on the short side compared with the other missions, but their bosses are heinously awesome.  The boss from “Creeping Flesh” is particularly perverse.

We blew through the entire game in a few hours, which is to be expected in a light gun game.  The initial run is very easy, since we were given infinite lives.  Each time we had to continue our score was halved, so players looking for a spot on the online leaderboards will have to be on top of their game.  At the end of each level we compared stats like headshots, kills, and overall scores.  I was constantly reminded that my wife schools me in light gun shooters.  Yet another reason why I married her.  We were then awarded some cash for use in the Gun Shop.  Ah, the Gun Shop!

Between missions you can buy and upgrade guns at Ye Olde Gun Shoppe.  There’s only one bank for the signed-in player, but Player Two can use anything that the main player has unlocked.  We saved up for the auto shotgun, because it’s a f****** auto shotgun.  You can also get weapons like an assault rifle, the hand cannon, and the new crossbow.  Each weapon can then have its attributes upgraded with things like increased damage, faster rate of fire, and faster reload speed.

I like my crossbows like I like my women...

There’s a lot of replay incentive in Overkill - Extended Cut.  There are numerous collectibles to shoot.   Many are on screen for only a second, requiring some degree of level memorization.  Having a co-op partner really helps when you're trying to shoot a barely visible comic book.   After you defeat the main campaign you’ll unlock the Director’s Cut, which adds a few minutes and alternate paths to each level.  Your extra lives will be limited in the Director’s Cut, so make sure your weapons are upgraded to the max.  

The game has plenty of extra features.  There are some mini games that support four player local co-op, but they’re little more than a distraction.  The soundtrack is ridiculously awesome.  The game supports 3D, both the newfangled-expensive-TV-kind, as well as the anaglyph-red-and-cyan-colored-glasses-kind.  I whipped up my own 3D glasses, and I have to say, I think I may have permanently impaired my vision, but that was probably my own fault and not the game’s.  The 3D looked very cool until my head started hurting so bad that I thought my temples were touching.

The elusive fire mutant in its native habitat: a strip club alley.

The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut is just as good as it was on the Wii, with some minor improvements.  The game looks better, and overall there's more satisfying mutant-shooting content.  At only $40 bucks, this is a great Move title.  If you haven't played it yet, and you have a couch co-op buddy, and you're both into the whole f****** ultra violent grindhouse thing, I highly recommend it.  There isn't enough new content here to merit another purchase if you already own it on the Wii, but it may be worth revisiting for fans of the series.  The game as a whole is better with a friend, if only for the ability to look at you partner and say to each other: "Did I just see/hear..." whatever offensive thing the game just spewed at you.

Hey, it's Halloween, and the world population just hit 7,000,000,000 people.  Some type of apocalypse, be it zombie, mutant, or other, is surely heading our way.  Might as well keep prepping for it!