Review by horror_spooky
And I didn't even have to check GameFAQs!
The day that Sunset Overdrive was announced was a day that the Internet was filled with outrage. People were extremely upset that Sunset Overdrive was an Xbox One exclusive since it was being developed by Insomniac Games, a studio most known for their work on major franchises associated with Sony, such as the original Spyro the Dragon trilogy and the Ratchet & Clank games. I was personally not all that impressed with what I saw of the game pre-release, and I honestly expected it to flop as Insomniac hasn't had a great track record as of late. Imagine my surprise when I came away from the game thinking that not only is it a fantastic game, but it might be the best game I've played all year long.
The main gameplay mechanics is like someone took Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Titanfall, and Ratchet & Clank, threw it all into a blender, and then the resulting smoothie is Sunset Overdrive. Allow me to explain. The game is all about constantly keeping your character moving throughout the city to avoid being killed by the various enemies, and part of the way this is accomplished is by grinding. The grinding in the game feels exactly like it did back in the day in the Tony Hawk games, which is to say that it makes getting around the city fun as hell.
Sunset Overdrive also reminds me of Titanfall with the rest of the traversal system and platforming mechanics. Players can wall run, boost into the air with insane jumps, and zip around at great speeds, which honestly didn't make me feel all that different from when I play Titanfall.
Finally, the Ratchet & Clank part of the equation comes into play when considering Sunset Overdrive's combat. The weapons are all crazy and odd, which is reminiscent of the design philosophy that Insomniac has employed in the past with the Ratchet & Clank titles. By using the weapons, players upgrade them to become more powerful, just like in the Ratchet & Clank series.
So yes, combining the mechanics of three of the greatest gaming experiences that can be had into one game was a great idea on the part of Insomniac, and the result is a fantastic experience that, despite obviously being influenced by other games, still feels very unique. Sunset Overdrive offers its own spin on these ideas, and thanks to the game world and story, there really doesn't feel like that there's anything quite like Sunset Overdrive.
First and foremost, Sunset Overdrive is a comedy. It's one of the few games out there that I would consider a straight-up comedy game. It never diverts from trying to get laughs to explore serious undertones. The humor is pretty hit and miss, but it hits much more than it misses, and I consider it one of the most hilarious games I've played. The humor is firmly rooted in the gaming industry with some rather obscure references to other games and gaming culture (including a reference to GameFAQs!), but it also diverges to joke about popular television shows such as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Arrested Development. Unlike a lot of other comedies that feature a heavy amount of pop culture references, Sunset Overdrive doesn't use the pop culture references as a crutch or a substitute for crafting quality jokes, but rather it uses them to augment it's well-crafted laughs. The meta humor is sometimes a bit too distracting and undermines the importance of some of the events in the game, though the game is really never trying to be serious so it is hard to fault it for that.
Players create their character, then use that character to explore Sunset City, the fictional world of the game. The character creation process is at first pretty disappointing; pretty much, your only option is to make your character look like an idiot. However, there's hundreds of clothing items that can be unlocked and purchased later on, and so by the end of the game you will look pretty cool. There's four different body types available, two for each of the two genders, and you can swap between them at will if you want. The amount of freedom that this game provides in terms of character creation is almost startling. I was very impressed.
The primary missions are the driving force behind the game's story. They are pretty repetitive at first, but a couple of hours in, they get extremely creative and memorable. Some of the best open world game missions I have experienced can only be found in Sunset Overdrive. I don't even want to get into specifics about them because I want anyone that plays this game to experience them blindly so they have no idea what to expect. Just trust me that the missions are awesome, weird, and you've never seen anything like them before.
There's also a bunch of side quests to complete. They aren't as imaginative as the main missions, but they are still pretty funny and unpredictable. There's over 50 challenges for players to master as well, plus a ton of collectibles and an eight-player co-op mode that is online only. The latter is pretty vanilla and probably won't hold your attention long, but the single player experience is where Sunset Overdrive truly shines.
I will say that horde-like missions that were a part of the primary missions were all pretty weak. They just felt like filler to artificially lengthen the game. They weren't really challenging and they weren't really fun. I just wanted to get back to the main story.
The reason to do these particular missions are to get amps. Amps are special abilities that you can equip on your character and guns, but they are more trouble than they are worth. Bothering with the amp system is a bit cumbersome due to the somewhat cluttered menus, and they hardly have that much of an effect on the gameplay, so they are barely even worth the headache. Once I had all my slots filled, I never bothered with them again.
Thankfully the combat remains fun regardless of the lackluster amp system thanks to the great variety of enemies in the game. There are three main factions of enemies, but these three factions have numerous classes within themselves. Most games would just copy the enemy types between the three factions, but Sunset Overdrive doesn't do this, with each faction requiring different weapons and strategy to deal with, and with each faction having their own interesting cast of baddies.
The first faction is the Scabs, humans that are essentially murderers and looters. Then there's the OD, these mutants that come in the form of giant creatures that can smack you into oblivion or rush you in large, zombie-like mobs. Finally, there's the Fizzco robots that prove to be some of the most deadly enemies in the game. They come in different flavors as well; some will shoot bombs at you, otherwise will shoot laser rifles, and others still will chase you down while dual-wielding laser swords. Yes, you read that right.
I can't believe I've gotten this far into the review without having even mentioned the game's story yet. I can't really do the hilarious plot justice, but I can at least give you some background on what the game is about. The evil corporation in the game, Fizzco, has developed an energy drink that has turned everyone who has drank it into horrible mutants. This causes an apocalypse and the city to be quarantined. The survivors in the city have to fight off the mutants, Fizzco robots, and each other to survive. The results? Absolute hilarity.
I was extremely impressed with how the game never slowed down despite the extreme speeds that the main character moves at and the ridiculous amount of crazy crap that can go on in the game all at once. Hell, there's barely even any pop-in of any kind, texture or otherwise, which is practically unheard of for the open world genre. Sunset Overdrive's cartoony visuals make it seem not quite as technically and visually impressive as it is, but this is one of the first eighth gen games that I have played that makes me truly feel like it couldn't have been done on last gen consoles. Sunset Overdrive is one of the first games that truly feels like a next-gen experience. This kind of gameplay at the level that it's at was just not possible before.
Voice acting in the game is fantastic. Couple that with a great soundtrack filled with catchy, original tunes and awesome dialogue and you've got yourself a game that has great sound design. Couple this with the already impressive visuals of the game and Sunset Overdrive definitely has one of the better, more polished presentations out of the games releasing this year.
The game is stuffed with content, plus there's a lot of interesting achievements to go after. The co-op mode is not my cup of tea, but it's still there nonetheless, adding even more replayability to the game. One thing's for sure, with Sunset Overdrive, there is definitely enough content to get your money's worth and then some.
Sunset Overdrive is one of the first games that truly feels "next-gen". The game doesn't seem like it would be possible on older consoles, despite the fact that a lot of it feels inspired by some of the all-time greats in the industry. The game is hilarious, definitely one of the funniest games I've ever played, and the story is filled with amusing characters and laugh out loud moments. The core gameplay is tight and an absolute blast. There's hardly any negative things I can say about Sunset Overdrive. This game validates the Xbox One, as it can only be played on that console right now, and I highly recommend it to anyone that has an Xbox One system. Insomniac Games has returned to their former glory with this awesome, unique, one of a kind open world adventure. In fact, they may have just made the game of the year.
Product Release: Sunset Overdrive (Day One Edition) (US, 10/28/14)
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