House of the Dead: Overkill launched for the Wii back in 2009, with an extended cut of the game later releasing for the Playstation 3. 2013 saw the release of another 2 Overkill games. The Lost Reels launched for mobile, offering the grindhouse goodness on the go, with Typing of the Dead: Overkill seeing a release on PC. Does this nostalgic Overkill variation offer enough to differentiate itself from the others? Let’s take a look…
In 1991, AMS Special Agent G is given his first assignment and sent to a small town in Louisiana called Bayou to investigate a series of disappearances and hunt down a deranged crime lord, Papa Caesar. Due to the presence of mutants, G is forced to team up with Detective Isaac Washington who is out to get revenge on Caesar for apparently killing his father. The game opens with the duo storming a mansion owned by Caesar and so you journey begins. Headstrong games decided to go with a grindhouse theme which fits the game perfectly (more on that later) as it acts like a prequel for the series. The story isn’t too bad. Its overly B-Movie with over the top dialogue that just oozes fun, but hasn’t House of the Dead always been a bit lo-fi?
The story makes its way through 9 levels, with this release being a port of the Ps3’s Extended Cut so there’s extra over the original. A Directors cut version of the game is unlocked upon completion though which features the same levels, but extended with alternate pathways and extra dialogue. What will more than likely keep you coming back though is collectibles. There are Vinyls, Comic pages, Posters and models to collect which builds up within the Memorabilia section on the main menu. When I say theres a lot of this stuff, I mean theres a LOT as some of its only available on the Directors Cut arc too – which means you’re gonna want to play through that too. To mix things up even more there are options you can unlock too like the ability to add more mutants into a level, remove crosshair etc which multiplies your score – the Directors Cut also features challenges to complete. The higher your score at the end of a level, the more money you receive and this helps with purchasing & upgrading weapons. There’s a good amount to buy with each having it’s perks, a fully upgraded pistol makes for the best backup weapon in your arsenal. The entire game can be played through in 2 player co-op as well, which would no doubt be worth doing for a few chuckles.
As alluded to before, the game hits it out of the park with its grindhouse theme. The game looks like its been ripped straight from the seedy cinema’s of old, complete with lo-fi visuals and plenty of popping film grain. There hasn’t been much of an upgrade visually over the Ps3 release with this port, a resolution boost to 1080 & anti aliasing being about the extent of it, so performance was rock solid on my machine (i5 4690/16GB/Fury Nano) The soundtrack fits the style perfectly, definitely one of the best you’ll find in gaming, so you’ll be wanting to fill out the jukebox to sample the music at will. A cheesy narrator sets up the action for each level, with plenty of swearing and innuendos thrown in during the dialogue which will leave you in no doubt of its exploitation cinema leanings. It’s not winning any awards for it’s visuals, but the style & brilliant audio will leave grindhouse fans with a smile on their face.
As is usually the case with PC ports, there are some nuances. The main one comes in the form of mutants occasionally only being partially rendered. You’ll be doing your best Jim Davidson impression as yet another foe stumbles towards you with no head & arms. You can still shoot these invisible parts and score hits though, and luckily it hasn’t happened during a boss battle. There is also a glaring omission. 3D support. Granted, stereoscopic always has been a bit hit and miss on PC, but the implementation on Ps3 was a genuinely good one. Bafflingly, even the anaglyph mode has been removed. Sure it left your eyesight green for a while once finished, but it was good fun & fit the grindhouse theme perfectly.
With Typing of the Dead: Overkill you effectively get 2 games, so we’ll deal with the headline title first. Typing of the Dead follows the same routes as the original, yet now your typing out death to the mutants. If you’ve played the original on Dreamcast or PC then you’ll know what to expect. Word and phrases spring up on the screen over each mutant and you have to type it out to dispatch them before they reach you. Things can get a little difficult at times with this, but there are ways around it. The game offers up custom dictionaries that can be freely added. These can be directly from SEGA or custom ones from the community that feature topics. To be honest though, my interest waned quickly on this mode. Whilst it was a novel idea back on the Dreamcast, it hasn’t aged well and you’ll likely switch over to the other mode sooner rather than later.
The other half of the game is a faithful port of the Ps3 release – it’s an on rails shooter. To be honest this aspect of the game is much better as it offers the full package. Weapons & upgrading etc are only available here, Typing doesn’t have anything else to it, so will likely be where you end up. It’s a more involving version of the game and the leaderboards etc mean you’ll be wanting to maximise your score – more score also means more dollar. Plenty of that is needed for weapons & upgrades. Mouse & X360 controller options are offered, but mouse wins out here as controller sensitivity just seems too high regardless. You’ll be wanting to unplug the controller though as my game would bug out and refuse to shoot, reload etc with the mouse when the controller was connected.
Typing of the dead is a mixed bag, and the two sides of this coin showcase that more than anything. If the package didn’t contain a faithful port of the Ps3’s extended cut, even with the couple of niggles it has, we’d be looking at a forgettable package overall. Once nostalgia for a new Typing of the Dead wears off, your left a little underwhelmed and the custom dictionaries do little to bring one back. The inclusion of HOTD is a masterstroke though and inevitably makes for the best way to enjoy Overkill.
Typing of the Dead: Overkill (PC) - 6/10
- 2 games for the price of one
- Grindhouse theme nailed to a tee
- Possibly the greatest game soundtrack you’ll ever hear
- TOTD feels a bit limited & underwhelming
- Occasional visual bugs
- 3D missing from extended cut
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