Sunset Overdrive
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2014-11-10 Xbox One Action M (Mature) Insomniac Games

Back in September, we had the chance to play a Chaos Squad round of Sunset Overdrive at X14, and oddly enough, I had the highest score out of my group. I had a blast, I tried all of my weapons, I killed a ton of stuff, but didn't get along with the grinding or wall running, let alone shoot while doing those. I wasn't sure how I would react once I had the entire game to play in, but oddly enough, after an initial extremely clumsy hour, I started to get the hang of it. Not so much the wall running, but the shooting and grinding eventually clicked into place.

Sunset Overdrive starts with a bang. You are a disgruntled employee cleaning up the mess at the launch event of the latest FizzCo drink, Overcharge Delirium XT. Everyone seems to be having a blast, except you. The event takes a turn for the worse, since everyone who had even just a sip of the new drink turns into a crazy, violent mutant: the "OD".

In this third-person shooter obviously inspired by Jet Grind Radio, your adventure begins by escaping the party area while learning new tricks and getting acquainted to the controls. The game eases you into it, teaching you the basics: A to jump, X to grind, wall-run and vault. You then get a quick lesson in combat: B for melee, RT for shooting. Advanced little things such as slowing down while grinding on a zip-line to aim better, boosting to go faster, or doing an air dash add more depth to the entire process. There were a few times where I felt overwhelmed swapping weapons while grinding and dodging missiles, especially while watching where I had to jump off to hit platforms at incredibly crazy heights. The learning curve at first seemed too much, but it's like everything else, it takes practice.

Let me tell you, my fear of heights, which is a problem if stuff on the ground below seems to be moving, is still there even if I'm experiencing virtual heights. Climbing these two towers near the beginning of the game had me sweating nervously, and I have never been happier about having checkpoints! Shortly after that, a boss fight atop of a radio tower seemed like the bane of my existence (and not just for coordination purposes) and when I was finally done, everything hurt from how tense I was the entire time. And it was a pretty epic battle for clumsy little me! But after that, I felt like I could do anything.

I got better at chaining moves together, creating comobos which make the Style meter go up. The better the combo, the quicker Style goes up. The higher your Style Level, the more Amps activate. Amps are like power-ups: Hero Amps activate at Level 1, Melee and Weapon Amps at Level 2 and Epic Amps at Level 3. There are several Amps to unlock and equip on your character, so that you can customize the gameplay to your liking. You can purchase them or receive them as rewards.

You also have Overdrives, which are passive upgrades that you "purchase" by using Badges. Badges are obtained by doing just about anything, killing enemies, grinding, wall-running, jumping, vaulting... the more you do it, the quicker you obtain the respective Badge. You can then trade them in for the Overdrives you prefer and really tailor the game to the way you prefer to play it.

Speaking of customization, you are not bound to what you select at the start of the game. There are NPCs that offer clothing items and hairstyles for sale, and you can change your gender too. They will also give you the option to save your outfits so you can easily swap between your favorite get-ups.

As for your arsenal, you are limited to eight equipped weapons, but there are so many more to use. My favorite is probably the TNTeddy, but I'm pretty fond of the Flaming Compensator and the Freeze Bomb! Some work better on certain enemies than others, so there is some strategy to be found there too by playing on their weaknesses. Weapons also level up with use and become more effective when you attach Amps to them.

Another useful aspect of combat are Traps, which are very useful during the chaotic waves of Night Defense. Some require activation, others are just there waiting to be stepped on by the OD. Either way, weapons and traps are fun to use, or maybe I just have too much fun watching their effects.

Everything you can do in the vast world of Sunset Overdrive you can also do in Chaos Squad, the multiplayer aspect of the game. Chaos Squad can be played by 2 to 8 players and you can choose your game by finding one of the photo booths in the city. Players vote on which missions they want to complete and once all are done you move on to Night Squad. Rewards are attributed according to the difficulty, so the higher the risk, the better the reward, but sometimes you might want to play it safe.

Sunset Overdrive is a pretty fun game with lots to do. Story missions aside, there are plenty of side quests to keep you busy and reveal more of the story, challenges and collectibles. Exploring is always exciting, and the game encourages you to keep moving and find new ways to get to where you want to go.

I love the humor, particularly in the dialogs and the little cut-scenes that happen whenever my character dies. So many funny references! And even if crazy and yucky looking, I do like the OD design, and am especially amused by the way they exploded into a "POP" of comic book onomatopoeia proportions.

I could go on about how much I'm enjoying this game and how much I love the little details. Eventually, I hope to find my way out of the colorful, chaotic and violent Sunset City. If you feel like you're ready for the awesomepocalypse, then give Sunset Overdrive a go. You won't regret it.