The House of the Dead: Overkill review

Prepare to overkill the under-dead

GamesRadar+ Verdict


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    Melon-farming bad language

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    Plucking off heads in slow-mo

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    Stomach-turning finale


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    More of a kill-spree than a challenge

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    Bosses sometimes underwhelming

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    Incestuous hillbillies

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We can only imagine the faces at the ratings boards when they popped their copy of Overkill into the glowing Wii slot. Seeing this kind of gore, language and politically incorrect humor spill from the Wii is like hearing a five-year-old cuss like a sailor – who’d have thought Nintendo’s friendly white box had it in it?

MadWorld may have gained the newspaper wrath, but content-wise, Overkill pushes things further. Aside from the lashings of viscera that spill from each perforated mutant, the game contains censor-baiting eye-openers such as incest and disability gags, not to mention enough naughty words to make Scarface look like Nintendogs. However, the key word is ‘gags’. Everything is done with a cheeky grin, a parody of bad taste that had us collectively guffawing around the TV.

And it’s mostly the packaging that’s shock and awe -the really gross stuff contained in cutscenes that punctuate the levels. Get down to the shooting and you’re on steadier, if jam-smeared, ground. Unlike the arcade House of the Deads, Overkill has grander ambitions. Levels can run up to 20 minutes in length – the time it takes to complete House of the Dead 2 – and feel more like FPS stages played through a light gun perspective.

On one (dismembered) hand, you get more bang for your buck: two hours of mutant slaughter where normally 30 minutes suffice. The extra time lets the level designers show off, taking us through misty swamps, Blair Witch-style houses and a hillbilly camp all in one stage. An even better carnival level sees you popping caps in some clowns before working your way through exploding attractions and a ghost train ride. The action is just varied enough to keep the momentum going.

On the other hand, some of the intensity of the past games has been toned down. Even on its harder Director’s Cut setting (which adds 30% or so to each level’s length), we only needed two of our credits to make our way through. Enemy waves don’t ramp up in difficulty, or at least, not enough to keep ahead of the weapon upgrades you can buy between levels. In effect, the hardest level is the first – get a shotgun and the mutants are history.

This isn’t to say Overkill isn’t a tremendous laugh; it’s just not what light gun fans may have wanted. As a shooting experience it won’t trouble you, but it’ll entertain you. Heads pop perfectly, arms spin off as blood geysers pump icky red all over the walls, chain kills rack up and a gravelly voice bellows the multiplier names with homicidal relish. And if you hit a bullet time pick-up, you can watch it all frame by frame. The adrenaline of arcade survival has been exchanged for the satisfaction of uber-violence. Ghost Squad and House of the Dead 2+3 already have the adrenaline angle covered on Wii, so we can enjoy Overkill for what it is. At last, the Wii comes of age.

Feb 10, 2009

More info

DescriptionThis immature, Mature rated title is just the gore covered dose of arcade-y fun the Wii needed.
US censor rating"Mature"
UK censor rating"18+"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)