We’re just a few days away now. For me, what has been the most anticipated game of the year, will be out on October 28th. I’ve been hooked on news, previews and updates about this game since it was announced at last years E3. There’s a lot about it that has me excited, so I wanted to talk about it. Hopefully I can build the same excitement for you, that I have for it!
Breaking the Mold
So in order to really have any respect for it, you have to put yourself in the mindset of players of games that have been released over the last… near decade.
Lately games have taken the concept of “Post Apocalyptic” very seriously. And rightfully so. It’s the end of the world! Conceptually, you would expect the game to be dark, grimy and, in a lot of ways, frightening. The first game to capture this look in a fantastic way for me was Gears of War (the Xbox 360 title).
Along that we had Resistance, which was another fantastic title – this time made by Insomniac Games. Resistance was very similar to Gears of War in a lot of ways. The world had been invaded by a group of extra terrestrial monsters, and you were left to piloting the character that was meant to take them all down. There were some technicalities that really separated the two titles (Gears was third person, Resistance was first) but the overall theme remained quite similar between the two.
Beyond these two, there were a plethora of other games that took this concept and ran with it in a very similar way. Always a haunting overtone, serious commentary and dark color palette. And while the first few of this game type were really nice, refreshing and really showed off the power of the new consoles of the time (PS3 and Xbox 360); sadly, this style became almost overused. 30-50% of every game that came out in the last few years took place in this type of world. It was everywhere! If you wanted to play a good game, the chances were you were about to be drowning the same look, same storyline and most of the time the same game type that you’d already beaten many times before.
This is the first part of Sunset Overdrive that sets it’s self apart from other games like it. It is technically speaking a “post-apocalyptic” game. However, it takes this normally recycled narrative, and turns it on it’s head. It’s appearance is bright and colorful, filling the game world with neons and pastels where normally we saw dark and browning colors. It takes the serious undertone and converts it into a fun and exciting plot centered around your character “finally being themselves” as the game puts it. It breaks the fourth wall constantly, challenges social dynamics and references some of our favorite pop culture moments on television, film and video games.
The tongue and cheek personality of the game can be seen in a lot of different ways. For instance: Respawns. When you’re character dies, which it inevitably will, you always respawn in a few unique ways. Some of these include raising from the ground like a zombie, arriving and being dumped by a UFO, and even arriving via teleporting telephone booths!
In the past most shooters we’ve played, be it third person or first person, have been very attached to the typical, duck, cover and shoot gameplay. There’s nothing with this. In fact it’s what made games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Medal of Honor so awesome. Being able to slightly peak around the corner was an amazing innovation. And what about blind cover fire? Thank you Gears of War! But let’s face it… it’s everywhere now. The features that use to be what made a game unique amongst it’s peers have slowly become implemented into every like-title that’s on the market. Even Grand Theft Auto incorporates a lot of this style of gameplay.
Well in Sunset Overdrive, while we still have interesting gunplay it also has a whole new type of traverse that, for me, is one of the most exciting parts of the game. Theres a few games you can liken this type of movement to: One of my favorites “Jet Set/Grind Radio” and also Xbox’s “Jet Set Radio Future”; also extreme sport type titles like “Tony Hawk”, “SSX” and the under appreciated “Aggressive Inline”. Basically, all of these games share the type of fast paced movement gameplay that Sunset Overdrive promises. But there’s even more to it then that! Yes, you can grind rooftops, railing and cables but you can also wall run, grab the corner of the wall, and continue running on the perpendicular wall. Beyond that, cars, vents and tents turn it trampolines as they propel you into the air when you land on them. Add this to the fact that most lamp posts and sign posts also turn into railing that you can gymnastically flip on and use that to propel you up and forward, and you have a traverse style that’s more dynamic than anything we’ve ever seen before in video games.
You Play… YOU!
So when all of these parts of Sunset Overdrive became obvious to me, I was already super excited to play. I mean after all Jet Set Radio is one of my favorite games of all time, and this is almost it’s spiritual successor. Then at E3 this year, they announced another exciting feature: Character Customization!
I was entirely content to play this game using the character on all of their trailers. But then when they announced that we could create our own character, I became almost obsessed. It’s not enough that you can create your character and the way they look, no. But the clothing and accessories are also entirely interchangeable.
So let’s look at how it works:
When you begin the game, you create your basic look. Your ethnicity, gender, hairstyle and color, and facial hair (which can actually be applied to females as well). After the intro cinematic you then get the chance then to pick out your characters clothing and alter any other portions of the character you might not be happy with that you’ve already designed. After this the game officially starts. Throughout the game you will have missions and meet characters that allow you to work for or buy new customization options. Everything from hairstyles, clothes and more.
What’s even more interesting is that you are NEVER locked into ANY choices that you’ve made in regards to your characters design. If you want to be a large muscle man one day and then a petite lady the next, go right ahead. You can change you ethnicity, hair, clothes… everything! This means you never have to make a new character if you get tired of your design. Just go back and change your character, and get right back to playing where you left off.
Weapons and Character Progression
Now if none of the rest of this has you sold yet, there’s still even more to look forward to. As you progress through the game you will collect a plethora of different weapon types. Everything from a grenade launcher that shoots cute little teddybears filled with TNT, to a hand drill that has been modified to fire vinyl records that ricochet. So far I have seen around 10 weapons, but they’ve stated that there’s a much larger amount. It’s obvious, no matter the weapon count, that they’ve brought back to their crazy weapon types like Insomniac was known for back in the Ratchet and Clank days.
Your character can also acquire traps. These traps have a range of different applications. What makes them interesting is that you can combo them together. For instance if you have a lightning trap (which sends lightning in four perpendicular directions) lined up with another lightning trap, they will send lightning arcs between each other allowing for you to set up an electric fence of sorts. There are many different traps with many different combos. So it’ll be fun to experiment with this.
The great thing here is that that’s not the end of it. Much like RPG’s there are many different ways to alter your weapons and character, both actively and passively. Firstly, your weapons do have levels that increase as you use that weapon (think Elder Scrolls). Once your weapons reach certain levels, there are two types of general upgrade options: Amps and Overdrives.
Amps alter either the type of damage a weapon does or add effects to that damage. They can also be added to your character to add variation to movement options. For instance, one amp charges each shot with electricity so that each target hit by the projectile is electrocuted. While another launches rockets from a hit target in an area around the target, doing extra damage to surrounding enemies. Amps can also come in “epic” variations (though it’s not entirely clear how this works) and from what I’ve seen the epic Amps are absolutely crazy. One that I saw that was attachable to the character instead of a weapon made it to where every step you took had delayed volcanic eruption underneath the step. Making it to where any enemy moving through your previously taken path was caught in the eruption and ignited in flames. What’s important to keep in mind about your Amps is that they all have a gate that must be achieved first. You’re character has a meter in the top right corner that builds as you do crazier and crazier combos (Combos can be accomplished by chaining together movement types and killing enemies). As you level up the meter from 1-3, to even fully charged, you gain access to the different Amps that have the respective requirement.
Overdrives are passives that are attached to the character (and possibly weapons as well, yet this is still unclear). These allow for damage boosts, defense boosts, etc. These do not require any leveling of the aforementioned meter, and are always active.
What I find most interesting about the Amp and Overdrive features is that they can be mixed and matched as you go on throughout the game, and there is a crazy amount of combinations. This essentially means that on top of the visual customization that you’re allowed, you’re character is already unique just by virtue of how you’ve decided to play the game. Meaning the chances are you and your friends will always have different combinations. Which leads me to the next part…
Not too much has been talked about in this regard. But there’s enough to talk about so that you have a general idea of how it will work. The first thing you wanna know is how to get into Multiplayer. This can be accessed by photo booths that are spread throughout the city. You will enter it, select the multiplayer options that apply, and enter the co-op multiplayer.
We’ve been told that there are few different ways to enjoy this function but the one that’s been talked about most is the “Chaos Squad” which is a mission chain that ends up in a “night defense”. The way this will work is that you will get into a party (either pre designated based off of those in your party or parties the game sets you up with through matchmaking), then your party will choose a mission, complete the mission, vote on another, complete the new one, and rinse and repeat. Each mission will have a range of different difficulties that the team must take into account when deciding which to play. These affect how awesome the rewards you get from the said missions are. After a certain amount of missions, your team will then end up in a “night defense”, for which the details were determined based on the missions your party chose to complete. Night defense is a combination of the gameplay you experience in single player and tower defense type style gameplay.
Insomniac Games has also stated that there will be open world options to explore with your friends, but not too much information has been provided here.
Something I think a lot of people will like though is that Single player and Multiplayer share everything. So all of your weapons, amps, design choices, overdrives; they all follow you into both game modes. Everything is always consistent. You will always have access to everything you’ve acquired up to that point.
And then theres enemies. In most games, you’re focusing on one or two different groups of enemies. Not much here is changed, though there are three different enemy groups you will face. The zombie like creatures created by the energy drink (OD’s), the humans that are using the apocalypse as an excuse to take advantage of people, and the robot army created by FizzCo (the corporation responsible for the energy drink).
As we understand it, each group will consist of a handful of different enemy types within. For instance, the OD’s have a few different enemy types. There’s the basic type which is what we’ve seen in most trailers. There’s the Herker which is a hulking, huge guy infused with construction equipment. And then a few others that are hard to explain here. Point is there should be plenty of enemies to keep us busy.
Something else worth noting is that certain enemies will have weaknesses to certain elements. The OD’s for instance mostly are weak to fire, while the FizzCo robots are mostly weak to energy type weapons. There is some variation within each group, but you get the gist.
All of this comes together to create what is, in my opinion, the most unique, interesting and intriguing game in years. It takes the old philosophy of the apocalypse and turns it one it’s head. It brings back bright, colorful and fun gameplay in a new an imaginative way. It’s like they took Dead Rising, Jet Set Radio, Gears of War and Tony Hawk and fused um all together! For me, this is one of the best reasons to own an Xbox One.
I’ll be including a lot of videos and screen shots so definitely take a look at them to get all the information you need to get excited for this new IP.
Gameplay Footage (SPOILERS) (First 30min – 1hr of gameplay):