What's the difference between a genre riff and a rip-off? Total Overdose, that's what. Take the gameplay from a few other action games, add some blood and spices, then wrap it up in a flour tortilla, and you've got a burrito of unashamedly derivative gameplay.
Mind you, just because it looks, feels, and plays like an inferior cousin of the Grand Theft Auto series is no reason to dislike it. No, the reasons to dislike it stem from an overall lack of polish. The developers got the basics down - the whole go-on-a-mission, blow-bad-guys-away, watch-the-cutscene, go-on-another-mission structure is firmly intact.
But everything looks like a cut corner - uninteresting textures, overuse of lens flare, graphical bugs, and sloppy sound editing stand out particularly. The plot is bad enough: You play a black-sheep twin brother who swaps places with your DEA-employed sibling on a mission to rescue your father. But with sample dialogue like "Hey, pig face, it's time to go to pig heaven," you know the proceedings are pure queso.
The game smuggles in several elements GTA very obviously - for instance, pick up a skull icon to start a Rampage-like temporary bloodbath, or enter and drive any car in town, then collect special point bonuses by driving over ramps. On the way, you'll pick up a ton of weapons, including a baseball bat or dual shotguns.
Once the GTA thing has been worn out, Total Overdose starts to steal elements from Max Payne – they don't even bother to change the name of the slow-motion leaping attack from "Shoot Dodge." And that's to say nothing of the dual-guitar-case machine-gun attack named El Mariachi, lifted straight out of the Robert Rodriguez film of the same name.
If Total Overdose was a budget title, some of these sins could be forgiven, but any of the GTA games will give you a better experience for less money. Granted, the game knows how over-the-top it is, so blasting banditos while flipping off the walls makes for a silly cathartic release on any given afternoon. Any longer than that, and you’ll need mucho tequila.