The House of the Dead: Overkill

Moby ID: 40939
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Description official description

Overkill is an episode of the zombie rail-shooter House of the Dead series specifically developed for the Wii controls. Players point the Wii Remote to aim, B button to shoot and wiggle the remote to reload. The two main buttons are used to change weapons, and other actions such as throwing a grenade.

The game is set before the events of the first episode and it takes place in the town of Bayou City. The well-known Agent G of the series is on his first mission this time, and he teams up with the Detective Washington to fight the plague of mutants, and who they thought to be at the head of this mess: Papa Caesar.

The game, while still faithful to the spirit of the series, adopts very different tone, with the use of a vintage effect, popularised in the grindhouse movie direction. That way, the game goes over the top in different areas: violence, taunts, the scenario, all deliberately hinting at playing a B-game.

There are three main modes are available: Story Mode, Director's Cut Mode and Mini-Games. Story Mode contains the classic rail-shooter concept, divided in nine levels. Director's Cut features the same levels but enhanced and generally longer. Mini-games are mostly shoot challenges for multiple players. By playing well or unlocking some achievements, the player wins money, which can be spent on upgrading weapons or buying new ones.

The game still supports multiplayer for two players simultaneously. As a novelty, a player can carry up two different weapons.

Spellings

  • ザ ハウス オブ ザ デッド: オーバーキル - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Wii version)

309 People (261 developers, 48 thanks) · View all

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 79% (based on 52 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 22 ratings with 2 reviews)

Overkill, or Overboard?

The Good
House of the Dead: Overkill attempts to continue the tradition of SEGA's gory gun games. Typically, players take on the role of a plainclothes agent in an attempt to stop the mega-lo-maniac intentions of a global corporations CEO. But what makes this title the bastard-child in the series is that unlike every other House' title, there was no arcade machine released to build an audience. A small consolation may be that previously featured on the Wii were the ‘classic' House' games numbers 2 and 3. Released on a single disc with various adjustments, this title had already found a natural home and a somewhat successful reception. Could ‘Overkill add to the series constructively, or was it an unnecessary addition to the now decade old (or more) canon?

With its speckled and dust-scratched appearance and muddy, warbled audio, ‘Overkill – in its entirety – is a complete homage to B or even C grade ‘Grindhouse' films of the seventies and eighties. This has a refreshing and kitsch flavour, and shows that the developer has put some thought into making the title unique where possible. The choice of stylisation gives the game an identity, and artistically it conveys the dirty, underground world of shock cinema well. Obviously, this feature of the game is purely aesthetic, and it's apparent pretty quickly that although the detail is there, it has absolutely no direct effect on the game play itself. In essence, the ‘Grindhouse' flavour is really just a skin to a horror-themed light-gun game.

The Bad
The filmic flavour extends to the presentation of the games levels, as each chapter is presented as a possible movie in itself: “Papa's Palace of Pain” (clever alliteration and the only ‘house' level in the game), “Ballistic Trauma” (a goofy mix of mutants, firepower and a hospital. Here, the reference to Rodriguez's “Planet Terror” is more than subtle). The given scenarios range well, and we're given trains, carnivals, prisons and other video game staples, yet unlike every other entry in the House of the Dead series, the range of enemies in the game is stunningly limited. Mutants (not Zombies, as the game itself stresses through its voice-over dialogue) are overwhelming the most common of enemies. These are represented by a handful of character models and are re-used throughout the entire game. Granted, they are fairly well modelled, but I can't help but think how much more interesting things may have been with some more location-specific mutant creatures.

Game play itself is a mixed experience. Taking out countless mutants is the main task of the game. And how you do this is via a selection of firearms: pistol, shotgun, sub-machine gun etc. The aiming reticule is optional, and re-loading is performed by either the A-button, or by pointing off-screen. The latter method is not as successful as other House of the Dead titles, especially when the motion confuses itself after a compulsory enemy shake-off waggle (unlike Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, an enemy close-encounter is both an annoyance and a guaranteed loss of health).

Unlike other titles in the House of the Dead series, ‘Overkill asks little of the players' dexterity. Enemy after enemy stagger towards the player from the centre of the screen – while this may be more realistic behaviour, it makes little challenge for the player. Ninety percent of enemies are shot at close-to-mid range, and their behaviours vary little. Occasionally, one or two of them get creative and (gasp!) throw a bottle or knife, but these are easily dismissed with a single shot. In other words, the game has a limited variety of action. I find this baffling, as the game is ‘on-rails' (no free-movement), and so particular creativity and care is required to hold interest in what could otherwise be classified as a very repetitive game play premise: (aim, shoot, reload ad infinitum). Titles such as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and even the House of the Dead release mentioned earlier make efforts to challenge aiming, speed, pattern recognition, timing. ‘Overkill only grazes past these concepts, rather going for a higher-body count and bigger calibres together. This approach is fine for the short-term, but modern gamers often require more than this.

There's talk of ‘Overkill having issues with its frame-rate and responsiveness. I want to confirm that these problems certainly do exist. Again, I find this baffling, and can only chalk it up to lack of experience on part of the development team. Of course, it does not ruin the experience, but it certainly undermines it, especially when much simpler and less ambitious titles have perfected frame rate issues. Hell, even a launch title “Rayman Raving Rabbids” had smooth and responsive on-rails first-person-shooter sections. I'm not sure what could have caused this stuttering effect that the game suffers from, but it certainly harms the experience.

Musically, the title is both varied and confusing. A lot of effort has gone into providing a soundtrack to the experience, and for the most part it is suitable. Other times, you find yourself distracted, as if the developers wanted you to feel simultaneously frightened and amused – a near impossibility. Killing mutants in grotesque, half-dark environments could be scary, but doing it to an absurd funk song is confusing. It elevates the experience almost to a parody and seems to land the game somewhere between a nerve-wracking scare-fest and a silly shooting gallery mini-game. Audio effects are good for the most part, with loud shot-gun blasts and mutant screams. Strangely, the voice-overs from the two protagonists are mixed unevenly. Washington (the detective based lazily on characters such as Shaft and Jules Winnfield) spouts his garbage loudly and clearly, whereas Agent G's conversed rational and sensible comments are often mixed under the music, resulting in a poor, mumbled reproduction. On another note, it is never explained why these two are put together, and even more ludicrously, it is never shown or explained which of these two men you play as! I find particularly irritating for some reason.

The Bottom Line
I could go on about the games goofy monetary and reward system, it's depressingly easy level bosses, it's inconsequential rewards, and it's amazingly shallow mini-game set, but I don't think it's that necessary. For those looking for a major body harvest, this is the game for you. Just be warned that the kills are inversely proportioned to the games variety and replay ability.

Wii · by So Hai (261) · 2009

Collect Your Point Blank Prescription!

The Good
House of the Dead: Overkill, is the fifth game in the franchise. Yet, unlike it’s illustrious predecessors, this installment of the long running zombie slaying series has no arcade counter-part. Meaning, for those keeping track at home, that this is the first original game in the series. Will that spell doom for Overkill?

“It’s like a nice Chinese dinner. You know with the sweet and the sour. Expanding on that analogy, I will smile with delight, that’s the sweet, as you scream for your fucking life…of course that’s the sour.”-Papa Caesar, HOD: Overkill-

Overkill, is actually a prequel to the original game in the series. Set some unknown years before the Curien Mansion case. We find Agent G, a rookie fresh from the AMS. His first case is no investigate reports of strange activities in the small town of Bayou City. Somewhere in the deep south of the USA.

This is where he will meet Isaac Washington, a hard-boiled detective with a foul mouth that would make a sailor blush.(Mess with him and he will rip your balls off!) Isaac is looking to put a cap in the ass of Papa Caesar. A sadistic villain who murdered Isaac’s father. And has a flair for ascots and Chinese cuisine.

It seems that Papa Caesar, is creating an army of zombies.(Or is that mutants?-MM-) That have overrun Bayou City. The boys with the aid of Varla Guns.(A howling hellcat humping a hot steel hog!) If they don’t get to the bottom of this in 24 hours the entire world will be overrun with the undead.

“A howling hellcat, leading a pair of pigs!”-Narrator, HOD: Overkill

If you haven’t noticed, the plot in Overkill is very silly. Like the other games in the series. Yet Overkill takes it a step further and models the game after the infamous grind house films of the 1970’s. Recently brought back into pop-culture consciousness courtesy of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The cut scenes are presented like trailers to the chapters of the game. Which in themselves are all over the top, grind house names. Such as: Papa’s Palace Of Pain, and The Fetid Waters. These are all tied together by a narrator voiced in the typical grind house fashion It works wonderfully. And it fit’s the House of The Dead mythos so well it’s almost eerie.

Mr. Megid Warned You!

I have noticed to my dismay, that a lot of reviewers, professional and otherwise. Don’t often succeed in telling the reader about the game’s shortcomings and other things that might bother some gamers. It is as if their massive ego’s cannot understand that there is not such thing as a game that is for everyone. So from here on out I am trying to be more proactive in this. In a segment I call, Mr. Megid Warned You! Back to the subject at hand. I would caution those individuals whom are sensitive to extreme violence, profanity, and strong sexual content, to avoid this game. As it will likely offend you. If you are like me and not easily offended and actually have a sense of humor, you will most likely enjoy this game. As it achieves it’s goal of updating the HOD franchise, and of creating an authentic throwback of B-grade cinema from a bygone era. Just remember I tried to warn you.

Gameplay, in Overkill, will feel very familiar to anyone who has played a light gun or “on-the-rails” shooter before. Only now the gun add-on is optional. As the game can be played with just the Wii Remote. The gun is more precise and fun, but it’s up to you if you want to shell out the extra cash for the gun. Also note that it is no longer a “light” gun. It uses the same more accurate laser of all Wii accessories. In fact the Wii Remote just gets plugged into the gun itself. So if you are on “the fence” about games of this ilk because of the older ones, fear not the new games on this genre are far more accurate and now you can sit almost anywhere and still play the game. Gone are the days of having to be directly in front of the screen.

You proceed through each level on a predetermined path. Taking out zombies and other creatures. You save innocents cornered by the undead. And while the multiple paths from previous installments are gone, there are now two modes: story mode and director’s cut. Playing directors cut mode is the only way to see other paths, it is also a bit harder to complete, yet not impossible.

Also new to the franchise are combos. These are gained by getting critical hits on the zombies. When your reticule turns red fire to score a critical hit. These not only will often kill a foe in one shot, they also count towards a combo. Five criticals gain “extreme” violence. There are several of these levels. All of which add to your overall score for the level. The final level, colorfully called “goregasm” adds and extra 1000 points to your score per kill. While these can be hard to get it is not impossible. It will take some time to master them however.

I know what you are thinking. What is the point of the combos? Glad you asked. You see the higher your score the better guns and gun upgrades you can get. There are about six guns, and you can carry two plus grenades during each chapter of the game. Like real guns they all have there own strengths and weaknesses. But I find that the shotgun/machinegun is a good combination. Of course the hand cannon/submachine is also good.

Each level ends with a boss. And each boss as in previous games has there own weak spot, taking advantage of this spot is the key to victory. The bosses themselves look great and all fight a little differently.

Interestingly enough Overkill seems somewhat less violent that the earlier games in the series. At least the silly green blood is gone. And perhaps less violence was a trade off for the increase in sexual content and foul language?

“I’m gonna rip your balls off!”-Isaac Washington-

The graphics in HOD: Overkill, are very good. Easily one of the best looking games on the Wii. It’s no secret the Wii is by far the weakest console of the current three. Yet this, and other key titles show it is capable of good graphics.

The characters and monsters all look good, and as realistic as the Wii gets. The attention to detail is very nice also. A good example is the authentic grind house look. Including cigarette burns, and film grain. One funny scene towards the end is particularly well done. I won’t spoil it, but I will say it’s a play on the poor quality of these types of films.

I really enjoyed the music in HOD: Overkill. There are several tracks and they all sound great and have a unique style. Like the funky, “What the Funk”. The jazzy, “Suffer like G Did”. Which is also a reference to House of The Dead 2. There is also a song with a Johnny Cash sound, and silly lyrics.

The Bad
Sometimes in two-player mode, there is noticeable lag. However this is more due to the shortcomings of the Wii than those of the game. Still it can be quite annoying when you lose a combo because of lag.

The game is a bit too easy in my opinion. Anyone who has played a game like this before will have little trouble finishing it. The game itself is very short, but I find that it has a high replay value. Furthermore I only paid about 20 American dollars for it, I could see being angry if you paid full price and finished the game in a few days.

While directors cut mode is more of a challenge it is still not all that difficult to complete.

More modes would have been nice. Seeing as this was an original game, not just a port of an older arcade hit.

While I found the game to be very funny, humor is a difficult thing to get right in videogames. So some may not find it as amusing. Yet I can’t remember any other game from this current era of games to make me laugh this much.

The Bottom Line
I found House of The Dead: Overkill to be a great addition to the franchise. The grind house element fit’s the game very well. I would like to see more HOD game on the Wii. Or perhaps Virtua Cop?

Overkill as helps show all the haters out there that the Wii is not just a kid’s console. But is also capable of fun and violent shooters and other arcade style games, and if Nintendo is smart they will keep the arcade style games coming. After all when is the last time you saw one of those? Unless you live is Asia.

Wii · by MasterMegid (723) · 2010

Discussion

Subject By Date
Overthinking it... BurningStickMan (17918) Feb 21, 2011

Trivia

1001 Video Games

House of the Dead: Overkill appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Profanity

Only a month after its release, The House of the Dead: Overkill received a Guinness World Record for being the most profane game ever released, featuring 189 uses of "the f word". When hearing about the award, game writer Jonathan Burroughs went to say the following:

"It is a dubious honor to receive such an accolade working in an industry where so often the fruits of your labours are derided and dismissed for being puerile or irresponsible, but in the case of The House of the Dead: Overkill a little puerility was the order of business. Parodying the profane excess of grindhouse cinema was Headstrong Games’ objective and I am flattered that this record acknowledges that we not only rose to that challenge, but entirely exceeded it."

References

The song Suffer Like G Did is a nod to The House of the Dead 2, in which one of the bosses proclaims: "Turn back now or suffer like G did!"

Awards

  • Gamespot
    • 2009 - Funniest Game
  • IGN
    • 2009 - Wii Game of the Year
    • 2009 - Best Soundtrack
    • 2009 - Most Underhyped Game

Information also contributed by Big John WV and MasterMegid

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Alaedrain.

Additional contributors: monkeyislandgirl, LordAndrew, bobthewookiee, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added June 19, 2009. Last modified December 4, 2023.