E3 2011: Hands On with House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut

In: Articles by Edie Sellers

10 Jun 2011

During a week where the overarching theme was Xbox 360 and Playstation3 games making their way to the Wii U, it was kind of refreshing to talk about a Nintendo Wii game being ported to the Playstation 3.

And in this case, a damn fine game it is.

Sega confirmed that first-person, zombie-themed rail shooter House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut for the PS3 using the Playstation Move will arrive on October 25 for North America and October 28 for Europe.

Our impressions of it: Damn fine, zombie-killin’ fun. And in 3D, if you prefer. What could go wrong?

During our demo, Headstrong Games’ studio head Steve Pritchard said he wanted to make this latest version of the House of the Dead series a little something special, and it is. The “port to PS3″ is slightly more than a simple port. As the “extended cut,” it has the same story of a mutant outbreak in Bayou County, but its seven stages have been remastered for HD and two additional levels added. In addition, it’s bloodier, louder, more obscene — everthing about it has been “extended.”

This is no easy shooter. Though you do spend a heck of a lot of time shooting down zombies in interesting and explosive ways, the one boss battle we encountered was hard, hard, hard.

And it wasn’t just a move-and-shoot kind of battle, either. It felt more like a series of puzzles you solve by shooting. Sure, some of those puzzles involved pumping enough lead into the boss as fast as possible, but others were about solving deceptions. The boss would throw out a line of look-alikes and you had one shot to nail the real boss, and not the fakes. Fail, and the boss reaches out and gets you.

You spend a lot of time dying, but fortunately resetting is fast, so losing is not punitive.

And if you think of Wii games as kid-friendly, then you seriously haven’t had your ears around Overkill. It’s full of cusssin’ goodness. But it has a lot of fun with it. Set the game to the censored mode, and all the obscenities will be blocked out of the subtitles. However, shoot those blocks and you’ll get to hear the unedited version. So even the nasty language becomes a shooting game.

The entire look and feel of Overkill clearly harkens back to midnight-movie, rubber-mask-and-fake-blood zombie flicks of the 60s and 70s — how apropos for a game you can view in 3D. You’ll see a whole lot of B-movie cliches right along with the gameplay. Headstrong takes that theme far. Sometimes you’ll see a film break — you’ll remember that schtick employed to hilarious ends in Quentin Tarrantino’s Grindhouse movie. And there are also missing reels. It gives the game a nudge-nudge wry wit.

We played it both as a 3D game and without the benefit of 3D, and it’s a pretty compelling game for the 3D technology. While it is still a fun — and funny — game in regular HD viewing, the addition of 3D does kick it up a notch.

Less impressed were we with it as a Playstation Move game. In honesty, it’s always hard to demo PS Move titles, as having the controllers properly “tuned” to the player’s body and size makes a massive amount of difference. While using the Move was fun, its accuracy left a lot to be desired when we played. And when you get one shot to solve some of these boss-battle puzzles, accuracy is key. It left us with a little bit of a gimicky feel and a sense that we’d rather just put our hands on a good ol’ Sixaxis controller than die one more time.

According to Pritchard, it will have two-person local multiplayer and may add online play in the future.

Although Overkill is set as a Playstation 3 exclusive, Pritchard says that he’s not ruling out that it could go to “other platforms in the future.”

From our hands-on, we don’t see this being a game-changer as far as gameplay. It’s pretty much by-the-book rail shooting. However, as far as pure, smart, and funny entertaiment, it’s certainly worth watching as it comes closer to its release date.

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1 Response to E3 2011: Hands On with House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut

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Scuigi

June 10th, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I found that the original House Of The Dead: Overkill was a fantastic and underrated game on the Wii. Targeting with the Wiimote is pretty intuitive and if you use a weapon with a large targeting reticle like the shotgun, it’s pretty easy to climb the high scores list. Easily worth the price.

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