House of the Dead Overkill goes overkill with profanity and crude humor

I understand that House of the Dead Overkill developers Headstrong Games were going for that “grindhouse” feel when creating their new on-rails zombie shooter.

I understand the exploitation films that served as reference materials for the developers often, if not always, contained copious amounts of gratuitous profanity and adult themes.

I can appreciate a development team choosing a theme and using that theme to tie the game together. (Valve did the same with excellent results in Team Fortress 2.) The adult themes are part of the game; I get that.

But knowing all that, I still can’t stand House of the Dead Overkill. I stopped playing the game after the first level and won’t pick it back up. I can not, in good conscience, recommend this game to anyone.

Now I love on-rails zombie shooters. My wife and I bought a copy of Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles at full retail price (something we very rarely do) because we enjoyed the game so much when we rented it. I understand that you can’t have a proper zombie shooting game without blood and gore. RE: UC isn’t for the kids, nor is any House of the Dead title preceding Overkill.

But the key difference–for me–between Overkill and every zombie shooter that came before is the abundance of f-bombs and crude humor, both during cutscenes and during gameplay.

The game offers no way to filter profanity, which is a shame as a filter could have provided a different brand of humor. Consider the sanitized versions of movies like Lethal Weapon and Pulp Fiction that air on network television where any profanity from the original script is replaced with unintentionally hilarious phrases like “son of a pig” or “melon farmer.”

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), House of the Dead Overkill pales in comparison to Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles in terms of gameplay. Overkill adds nothing significant to the genre, where RE: UC featured a multitude of destructable objects (even incorporating the destruction of objects into the player’s score at the end of each level), limited shifting of perspective (i.e. look slightly to the right, look slightly to the left) via the analog stick on the Wii Nuncuk, and the ability to quickly switch between weapons. Ignoring the objectionable content in Overkill, RE: UC is still far and away the better on-rails zombie shooter.

Overkill paints a new coat of paint on the on-rails shooter experience, one that may attract a few “hardcore” gamers in their 20s, but will alienate far more consumers than they attract. RE: UC improved on what had come before and moved the sub-genre forward.

Bottom line: If you like to shoot virtual zombies (and who doesn’t?), skip Overkill and pick up Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles.

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