Hands-On Preview: Sunset Overdrive – Monster Energy
The E3 trailers revealed this week for Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive definitely helped to set a tone for the game, and a fun one at that. Bored by the browns and grays of so many first-person shooters and overly serious action games, Sunset Overdrive takes a swig of energy drink and delivers a kick to the nuts of the clichéd action-adventure game.
During a multiplayer demo of the game at E3 2014, we had the chance to check out the recently announced 8-player co-op mode of Sunset Overdrive, where players engage in a survival mode that will certainly be familiar to fans of Gears of Wars’ Horde Mode, but with a little bit more of an objective based-twist.
Filled with crazy action and wilder acrobatics, Sunset Overdrive plays like a hyper-charged mix of Dead Rising and Jet Set Radio: subtlety is not the aim of Sunset Overdrive, and thankfully it gleefully embraces that kinetic action.
As a third-person shooter, Sunset Overdrive heavily focuses on movement and combat, as player characters can hit the movement button to perform a variety of context-sensitive maneuvers based on their position: jumping alongside a wall can transition to a wall-run, where that can then lead into grinding along rails or wires for faster movement. Sunset heavily encourages constant movement, and luckily with the bustling environments present in Sunset City, there are always options to maneuver to a new location, or to escape from some tricky situations.
In the game’s 8-playe co-op mode, players are engaged in a survival mode (“Chaos Squad”) with objectives to protect vats of the hyper-energetic energy drink, Overcharge Delirium XT, from waves of the “infected” enemies, the Scabs. Much like Gears of War or The Last of Us, the Scabs include a number of different enemy types with varying abilities and powers: you’ll encounter waves of simple minion-type enemies, followed shortly after by more powerful Poppers and Herkers, which can explode for powerful damage or brute their way through protective barriers, respectively.
While the enemies are varied and relentless, Sunset Overdrive also gives players plenty of options for disposing of the enemy Scabs that can fit both gun-toting lone rangers and sword-wielding badasses alike. Armed with laser swords for melee attacks and a wealth of weapons that draw much inspiration from Insomniac’s history with Ratchet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive’s weapons include a variety of the typical weapon archetypes one can expect from a third person shooter (pistol, shotgun, rocket launcher, etc.), but with a supercharged twist. The weapons in Sunset Overdrive eschew the typical guns and explosives of shooters and instead provides such eclectic choices as a firecracker gun with Chinese dragon rockets, the High Fidelity gun that shoots deadly vinyl records, and a Blunderbuss-styled shotgun that can easily obliterate enemy Scabs. Although the weapons are familiar styles to what we’ve seen in shooters before, the fun and energy of Sunset Overdrive seeps into the game around every corner, and even to its arsenal.
Like its bursts of color and firecracker energy, the 8-player co-op of Sunset Overdrive provided plenty of laughs, tense fights, and tough situations as the growing numbers of enemy Scabs raised higher and higher in each wave. While the demo shown was showing some signs of frame-rate slowdown during many of the more demanding combat situations alongside some frantic encounters with the sheer number of enemies on-screen, the game’s overall presentation seeps with high production values and design.
In the stable of Xbox One exclusives coming this year and shown so far during this week’s conferences, E3 2014 got a jolt of adrenaline and a kick to the pants with Sunset Overdrive, and the game shows little sign of slowing down on the way to its release this October.
Sunset Overdrive releases exclusively for Xbox One on October 28th, 2014.