Review: Sunset Overdrive

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Sunset Overdrive takes place in the world of Sunset City in the year 2027. Fizzco is releasing their latest energy drink and decides to give their home city the first taste. The world quickly gets infected as they realise that drinking OverCharge Delirium XT means that you’re turned into a mutant. The story sees you trying to escape Sunset City which has been locked down to the infestation of mutants. You’ll meet a ton of people along the way who are facing the same scenario. Little trinkets of extra backstory details are provided by collecting cell phone.

Ultimately I feel that the story ends up being incredibly cliche. In the past, i’ve always gotten really involved in Insomniac’s wonderful character development and pacing but unfortunately Sunset Overdrive seems to fall a bit flat in this regard. Initially, I felt that the premise could’ve been really interesting but bland characters and incredibly shallow humour stopped me caring for the story about half way through the game.

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Sunset Overdrive continues the very colourful and over-stylised nature that Insomniac Games are known for. It’s one of the most vibrant games available on Xbox One and you’ll never get tired of the sharp visuals.

Visually, the game is very consistent across all areas; environments, enemies, weapons and main characters. Everything is incredibly beautiful. Explosions are over the top and impressive to look at. You definitely won’t mistake this as anything other than an Insomniac game from the onset, which is a huge positive for fans of the developers.

The game runs at 900p at 30FPS (standard fare for most Xbox One titles) which some may look down at, however the game remains consistently smooth at all times. A huge number of enemies can often appear on screen at once as well as a number of effects and explosions and I can’t recall a time that the game’s frame rate ever dropped or slowed down at all. Up-beat music is played throughout the entire game which sets the tone for the incredibly fast-paced gameplay

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As soon as I saw the announcement for Sunset Overdrive, I was excited. Insomniac Games have been able to create some of the best action platformers across the gaming generations. Their games are full of character, over stylised with extremely tight controls, crazy weapons and a ton of humour to back it all up.

Sunset Overdrive is all about traversal. Ratchet and Clank has always had various ‘grinding’ sections that break up gameplay but Sunset Overdrive has built on this mechanic and created the whole game around the idea. You’re able to grind on top of railing, grind under raining, bounce on a number of different objects, vault over items and wall-run. There is a steep learning curve to the amount of traversal techniques. Initially the game might feel clunky as you mis-time jumps and fall short of the next rail, but once you get the hang of it, it feels incredibly fluid. The game rewards you for perfect timing. For instance if you hit A at the right time when bouncing, you’ll get an extra speed boost which makes it easier to get to your next grind. When grinding, you’re able to hit RB to initiate a small speed boost or hold LT to slow down, if you want to take out some OD on your way through.

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The game encourages you to keep moving from the very start. Your ability to chain together moves to quickly get around the map will earn you points in your style meter. There are four different levels on your style meter which activate your amps. Level One activates your Hero Amps, level two activates your Weapon and Melee amps and level three activates your Epic Hero Amp Level Four is extremely challenging to get to but makes enemies almost non-existent whilst you can make it last.

Amps are abilities which are purchased by the various collectable that can be found in the game. Hero Amps usually add a special effect to traversal and you’re able to add two amps to this designated slot. Melee amps add a special effect to your melee attack such as a fire attack. Dive Bomb amp obviously effects your dive bomb. Epic Amp is the most powerful which creates extremely effective attacks such as explosions from bouncing. Each amp can be upgraded once to further enhance its effect.

Insomniac Games have always been known for their over-the-top arsenal of weapons, reinventing the wheel across the Ratchet and Clank and Resistance franchises. But whilst the weapons fit the world of Sunset Overdrive well, it’s definitely not their most creative use of weapons. Weapons are unlocked throughout the game and can be purchased using Overcharge cans. Weapons are upgraded as you use them and each one has five different levels. For the most part, upgrades increase ammo and damage capacity. I wish that Insomniac went a step further as they have in previous games and changed the actual characteristics of the weapon as they upgraded. For those that want even more customisation, Weapon Amps can be applied which add a small effect like stunning enemies or giving you the chance of having the enemy explode.

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Eight weapons can be equipped to your weapon-wheel at any given time but these can be easily changed out by visiting the Start menu. You can also cycle through your weapons with the LB button for quick access. Another small gripe with the game is that it can be sometimes hard to switch up weapons in time of great chaos. I wish that you were able to take it even further and assign one of the extremely under-used D-Pad buttons with your favourite four weapons.

Overdrives are the last form of upgrades that can be used in the game. There are a ton of them in the game and are unlocked by using badges. There are 12 badges and are unlocked for doing things like meleeing your enemy, bouncing, grinding or using a particular weapon type. Overdrives are what really customise your character in order to maximise your play style. You’re able to equip 6 and once and further upgrade them using more badges. You’re able to alter things like how much damage your melee attack does or assign a certain weapon-type more ammo.

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Traps are used almost exclusively in Night Defence in both single player and multiplayer and are used in a number of ways to kill swarms of mutants. They can be placed strategically and can ensure that the enemies never enter your base. They’re limited in how many you can place by energy and this energy can be re-gathered by removing the trap. These are extremely novel and it’s cool to watch how they dispose of the mutants.

You’re also able to change your appearance in a magnitude of ways. You can alter your hair-style, melee weapon, clothing, shoes, and tattoos or choose to just wear underwear. Money and missions can unlock new clothing items and I’ll be upfront in telling you that this is all that money can purchase at the moment, which to me seems like a waste for those that don’t enjoy dressing up their character.

You may have already noticed but Sunset Overdrive has a ton of customisation and I’ll be the first to admit that it can be completely overwhelming and confusing at first. Upon pressing Start for the first time, it can be completely confusing with just how many upgrade options there are. Rest assured that throughout the first few hours, each thing will be explained to you and will start to make sense. Once it does, you’ll realise just how much you’re able to customise your play style.

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Enemies have always been my favourite part of Insomniac games. They have the ability to create out of this world enemy types that I couldn’t have imagined. Sunset Overdrive does not disappoint in this department. There are three main groups of enemies that you’ll come across with progressing through the game, The Mutants, Fizzco Bots and Scabs. It doesn’t stop there though as there are many different types of enemies within these three groups. The game is always introducing a new enemy and different enemies are weaker against certain weapons. This keeps you having to rethink your strategy and really keep you on your toes.

There are a number of additional quests and challenges throughout the game to keep you on your toes. Quests are side-missions which usually flesh out characters. Completing them usually gives you overcharge, cash and other special items. Challenges are optional missions that test how quickly you can traverse through a certain environment or destroy a number of enemies. Gold medals are your aim and will net you in the largest number of cash. Leaderboards are also featured for just about everything in the game so you can see how you can compare to your friends.

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Since the game was announced, the developers have been focusing heavily on the multiplayer aspects of the game. Chaos Squad is the multiplayer mode and can be played by 2-8 people. Gamers will take part in a number of challenges that can be anything from delivering supplies or defeating a certain number of enemies. At the end of the series of missions, players will take face in Night Defence in order to defeat waves of enemies. You’re then rewarded with a range of Cash, clothing and overcharge.

Sunset Overdrive as a whole is a fun experience but ultimately feels like it’s lacking a certain something. It’s direction feels a bit lost and I’m not quite sure who the game is for. The game feels quite easy for the majority and dying has almost no consequence. Story missions are by far the worst part of the game. When they have you killing enemies, they are extremely satisfying but when you’re delivering things from one side of the map to the other, the game feels like nothing but a chore.

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