House of the Dead: Overkill
Genre: First-person Rail Shooter
Release Date: 2/3
Sega’s arcade light-gun shooter franchise comes to the Wii for the first time in House of the Dead: Overkill. This prequel to the series strips away the complexities of modern shooters and concentrates on one thing: killing zombies. In the end, that’s all we really want out of a survival horror game, right kids?
Bayou City detective Washington thinks that his father’s murder was ordered by local mob boss Papa Caesar, so he goes to Caesar’s isolated mansion to investigate. Meanwhile, an operative known only as Agent G probes the disappearances of a number of citizens. Detective Washington and Agent G join forces to search for the truth, and discover a house filled with murderous zombies in search of their favorite food: human brains.
Graphics-wise, Overkill is nothing special, but it features some of the simplest controls in all of gaming. All you have to do is move the reticule to your target with the Wiimote and blast away. The game moves you from place to place automatically, so you can concentrate solely on bringing the pain to the undead. Also, developer Headstrong Games has managed to eliminate the jumpiness of the pointer that is usually found in Wii games, making moving the target sights smooth and efficient, something that is vital for your survival. Overkill also features a two-player co-op mode and “Slow Mo-Fo” time, which slows down the action to let you line up the messiest shotgun blast possible. What it doesn’t have, unfortunately, is a light-gun peripheral, something that veteran House of the Dead players will find very disappointing. Overkill will probably be available about the time you read this; only fans of no-frills carnage need apply.
Genre: Third-person Brawler
Release Date: 3/10
The Conduit allows Wii gamers to scratch that FPS itch, and House of the Dead: Overkill offers “mayhem lite”, but it’s really Platinum Games’ MadWorld that has set the hearts of adult Wii players all a-quiver. And rightly so; this third-person over-the-shoulder meat grinder offers you a stark, graphic novelish visual style, a level of brutality never seen before on the Wii, and a profanity-soaked voice track reminiscent of Interplay’s infamous 1999 PC shooter Kingpin: Life of Crime.
Terrorists known as the Organizers have released a deadly virus in Varrigan City and have isolated it from the outside world. The survivors of the plague are forced to participate in a game show called “Death Watch,” which promises a prize of $100 million to the last person standing. You control Jack, a mechanic armed with a chainsaw and a taste for ultra-violence. You use the Wiimote and nunchuck to move Jack through the Sin City-inspired black-and-white world, stopping every so often to upgrade your weaponry or play a series of minigames, one of which gives you a baseball bat to swat enemies onto a giant dart board.
Platinum Games swings for the adult-content fences with MadWorld. Jack carves up his enemies with his chainsaw, throws them against walls like they were rag dolls and bisects them with dumpster lids, while copious amounts of plasma spray forth to provide the only color in this otherwise monochromatic game world. I had some hands-on time with MadWorld and found that, despite a somewhat wonky control system that makes camera movement and character orientation tricky, there was considerable fun to be had here. But parents should beware: if there was ever a time when you should heed the warnings of the ESRB, this is it.