Sunset Overdrive was a game that I think required something special to get all the ingredients just right to succeed, the art style, humour, open-world and the gameplay when put together makes it a bit different and you could argue that perhaps its trying to do too much, but I’m surprised at just how well Insomniac have been able to fit all the pieces together into one perfect puzzle.
The humour is very subjective more-so than the other parts I think, its not that I necessarily find it funny – I don’t often find games (or even TV shows) “hilarious”, there are moments where I might get a small chuckle but other than that I don’t want to make it sound like I think is a laugh a minute, I appreciate the subtlety of some jokes and the more obviousness of others, it all ties in well together and I like how it breaks the 4th wall and knows it’s a video game, I think it’s just superbly executed and I’m glad I didn’t find it cringeworthy.
The open-world Sunset City is the core part of the experience, without a fun city to roam and play around in a giant sandbox, the game was unlikely to get off the ground and this is where Sunset Overdrive shines. Once you get used to the game; the controls (more on that later), unlock all the traversal moves and really start to understand how to play it and how it should be played it just flows through so smoothly with the well designed layout of the city it makes for a seamless transition from surface-to-surface whether it’s grinding, bouncing, or sliding across water. As you can glide through Sunset City in moments with speed, style and momentum, the slightly goofy/cartoony art style looks awesome, it’s not some graphical revolution but its colourful, bright and consistent, everything just pops out, the draw distance is good when you’re high up in the city and when you’re up close everything looks detailed and most importantly run smooth.
It takes a little while to unlock all the moves that make the traversal so fluid and easy which they need to improve in the sequel I think, they need to find a balance between helping the player understand how the game should be played with also getting you to that point quicker, I don’t think they did a bad job of that at all but perhaps they could do a bit quicker in the sequel (at least I hope there’s a sequel!) or even just give players who played the first one the chance to skip a tutorial completely.
You need to unlock the grinding speed boost, the divebomb extra jump and the air dash but as I unlocked each one I felt like each one improved it a lot until I got the next one, when I was then wondering how I survived without it, the air dash is really the most important one because it gives you more control over where you land, so you can bounce on something or make that extra grind rail that was just too far away. The switching from each surface to the next is fun and each surface offers you something to keep you moving, you can speed the player up too if you’re just working your way to the next point on the map or you can press the left trigger to aim your weapons and slow things down just a touch to make it easier to control when shooting, I did think when I was swinging from an undergrind to a high jump onto the side of a building that it reminded me of swinging like Spiderman.
As I’ve got all the achievements I have gotten 20 weapons to level 5 so I’ve had a good chance to work out my favourites and I think there’s certainly some fun ones whilst a couple I thought were a bit lame (the hi-fidelity where you shoot records), others like the TNTeddy, Acid sprinkler, Roman Candle, Hair Spray Gun, Dirty Harry and Flaming Compensator, Murderang are all pretty awesome and urge you to use them together to get great style points and more kills. For example you can use the acid sprinkler to attract and spray the OD or Fizzco Bots with acid before blowing them up in a large group with the TNTeddy (perhaps its a lot better in the game than it sounds…) or firing masses of fireworks at flying OD
Its taken me a long while to write and post this up, I’m not sure why really, I’ve probably been playing too many games to spend time writing about them but the first of the two DLC packs the Mooil rig came out in late December and I’ve already completed it with all the achievements. I saw a lot of criticism over the length of the DLC and some on the game itself to which I can only think either these people are piggybacking on those that only played the story missions or they just don’t both to experience the game.
There is a ton of content in the game, the main story will take you a fair few hours to do, there are also lots of awesome side quests if you just want to play through “missions” but also the city is alive and there’s lots to do in it: over 55 challenges, hundreds of different collectibles to get as well as multiplayer, there’s a lot of fun to be having in Sunset Overdrive and it will take a long time to experience it all, the game is a package and I balanced my time playing missions with doing other things in the city to spread it out and getting the full enjoyment of it.
The multiplayer is a bit of a mixed back for me personally, I like it but I think it’s the obvious candidate for something that could grow a lot in a potential sequel. Chaos Squad gets 8 players together doing smaller missions like destroying bombs, clearing OD from an area, collecting points (based on challenges in the single player game) to build over an overcharge multiplier then when you play the night defence level your performance is combined with the multiplier to give an overall score and rewards based on that. The problem I found is that the defence bit is what I really want to play, waves upon waves of enemies trying to get to the overcharge VATs you need to defend and killing them with weapons, traps etc but it doesn’t last long enough to me to be sufficiently satisfying and I hope they make it more like Gears of War horde mode with more waves, bosses and the like. I’d also like campaign/single player online co-op too, I think it would be fun to play around the city without a specific goal, just being able to do what you want and then play the missions in co-op, perhaps make more challenges etc for that too.
The story as I mentioned earlier breaks the 4th wall a lot especially in the ending (I won’t spoil it) but it’s really satisfying and sets the game up for a sequel, whether that’s in a different city or not and generally provides the icing on the cake to what its a fantastic game. Of the big new IPs to release on the next-generation consoles, Destiny, Watch_Dogs and Titanfall etc, Sunset Overdrive is the only one that I think exceeded the expectations set for it and is by far one of the most if not the most interesting games so far, hopefully Insomniac and Microsoft have a lot of success with the title and is the start of a great new franchise.
See my videos of Sunset Overdrive below!