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Sunset Overdrive review: Ride the rails to kaboom-town (finally on PCs, too)

Throw traps, shoot guns, grind rails: that

Throw traps, shoot guns, grind rails: that's the <em>Sunset Overdrive</em> way.

Throw traps, shoot weapons, grind rails: that is the Sunset Overdrive method.

Replace: There is no scarcity of latest video games this 2018 vacation season, however we needed to convey a shock gem to your consideration: 2014’s Sunset Overdrive, a high-octane, parkour-driven visible stunner. With seemingly zero fanfare, a $20 PC model arrived yesterday for Home windows PCs (Steam, Home windows Retailer). Almost the whole lot about the unique video games nonetheless applies to this PC model, so take pleasure in our unique evaluate (which first ran on October 29, 2014) under. The piece seems largely unchanged, however we’ve added some PC-specific ideas (lastly, Sunset in 60fps!) and a gallery from the re-creation close to the finish.

Hold shifting, hold shifting, maintain shifting. If I keep nonetheless, the monsters assault. If I cease sliding down rails, bouncing off of automotive hoods, or rappelling over zip strains, every little thing falls aside—the music in my head stops enjoying; the electrical energy stops surging by means of my dodge-rolls; the hearth stops spewing from my duct-taped battle-axe.

Welcome to Sunset Metropolis, a sunny, dilapidated corpse of a not-so-futuristic riverside metropolis. The place used to be overrun by selfie-snapping hipsters till they chugged a brand-new power drink that turned them into crazed mutants (we imply actually, as opposed to the figurative craze of a caffeine excessive). One way or the other, “you” (by means of a comparatively strong character creator, which occurs to sport the dumbest hairstyles recognized to man) prevented taking a sip, and now you will need to survive and escape the insanity alongside the few remaining human survivors.

In contrast to everybody else, in fact, you come ready. Once you discover high-powered weapons, like a freeze ray or a bowling-ball launcher, you are in a position to shoot every part in sight with exceptional goal. If you see a constructing edge, a zipper line, or different grindable and bounceable objects, you turn into a lightning-fast, super-powered parkour grasp.

Conveniently for you, Sunset Metropolis appears to be made up virtually completely of goofy weapons and rideable surfaces, they usually join you to a comparatively easy—and positively acquainted—fashion of Crackdown-esque open-world online game, damaged up into quests. Go right here, blow up monsters, go there, discover hidden merchandise, blow extra stuff up, acquire reward, wash, rinse, repeat.

Sunset Overdrive has a whole lot of surface-level madness in its favor, from its brilliant, day-glo punk aesthetic to its vulgar, meta-obsessed dialogue; from its hulking, mutated beasts to the visually arresting weapons used to dismember stated beasts. The sport needs very badly to whack you over the head with its fashion, as nicely, but developer Insomniac Video games does not falter or fumble due to that stylistic obsession.

This is the bizarre factor: the f-bombs and reddit references ultimately flip into white noise, and you might yawn when a Popper explodes in a Nickelodeon-orange gush of ooze for the 1,000th time—or when the recreation knowingly mocks yet one more certainly one of its formulaic fetch quests. However Sunset Overdrive’s sense of urgency, fueled by a necessity for perpetual movement, by no means wanes. That is the extreeeeme open-world online game that places its cash the place its wide-open mouth is.

As you’ll be able to think about, Sunset Overdrive’s construction does not emphasize puzzles or different cerebral platforming, however it’s additionally not as a lot of a “combat” recreation as you may anticipate from Insomniac Video games, the builders greatest recognized for the every-weapon-is-crazy Ratchet and Clank collection. Weapons definitely play an enormous, explosive position, however they really really feel surprisingly formulaic; simply because the grenade launcher shoots teddy bears doesn’t suggest it isn’t simply one other grenade launcher, and most of the different weapons supply visible gimmicks atop a gun you’ve got seen earlier than. As an alternative, the recreation’s actual victory is in traversal—in enabling it and in patting gamers on the again for doing it appropriately.

Your “amps,” a collection of unlockable, upgradable superpowers, solely work when you keep a chain of grinds, bounces, wall-runs, kills, and different maneuvers. The longer the chain, the extra amps energy on concurrently. You want these amps for the recreation’s battles, however you additionally want to hold shifting to survive. The huge numbers of foes you face additionally occur to include acid blasts, machine weapons, and different firepower that may run your well being bar into the floor in the event you walk-and-shoot like in different video games. In case you’re not driving the rails, you will in a short time experience the pine.

Sunset Overdrive calls for numerous motion from its gamers—and a whole lot of digital camera and perspective shifting to sustain—so its weapons have been tuned to compensate. For the most half, getting good at fight is much less about twitchy aiming and extra about controlling giant crowds beneath your grind-and-hop path, thanks to a mixture of auto-aiming machine weapons and enormous, area-of-effect blasters. Lay down an acid-spitting lure; decide off an impending swarm with a ricochet-loaded gun that, uh, shoots vinyl data; cease a trio of snipers with an ice grenade (after which shatter them with a melee smash).

To encourage gamers to boost their parkouring and their blasting, Sunset Overdrive additionally doles out badges for just about each motion you do. Grind a rail? Badge! Wall-run to bunny hop to grenade throw? That is progress on three badges proper there, getting you that a lot nearer to new weapons, armor, and maneuverability upgrades. In that sense, Sunset Overdrive feels slightly extra like Tony Hawk than Jet Set Radio, no less than when it comes to demanding gamers get the most out of their transfer selection.

The town additionally hides roughly 9,420,768 collectibles (give or take), which might be cashed in for extra upgrades. What’s essential right here is, much more so than Crackdown earlier than it, Sunset Overdrive’s traversal for such collectibles is strengthened with a mixture of gratifying, controllable velocity and fixed, reaffirming rewards.

Just a little too irreverent

The plot-driven marketing campaign has quite a bit going for it—a sluggish reveal of the recreation’s lovely environs, a ton of properly designed, rail-loaded battlegrounds to glide over, a multitude of crass, goofy dialogue powered by a surprisingly succesful forged of voice actors—however it’s not all that difficult. Auto-aiming assists gasoline a whole lot of the fight, and even for those who stand round like an fool and die, coming again to life does not set again your progress all that a lot.

As an alternative, the marketing campaign feels extra like a coaching mode for the non-compulsory ranked challenges that gamers can take on to unlock big money bonuses and distinctive outfits. A few of them set you up in a tower-defense state of affairs, the place you lay traps and handle waves of foes (which has been duplicated in multiplayer). Others ask you to whip round a fast stretch of street as shortly as attainable or battle enemies with particular point-bonus necessities.

All of those require much more focus than the marketing campaign—extra planning for the quickest parkour routes, smarter bouncing between weapons, higher technique for a way to maximize kill factors—and get fairly demanding for gamers who need to obtain highest marks. The builders have struck a very good stability between a playable, enjoyable marketing campaign that lets gamers loosen up a bit and a smattering of brutal, well-composed challenges.

Sadly, whereas the co-operative multiplayer modes primarily crib from the ranked problem construction, the problem hasn’t been scaled to match the new variety of gamers. Six gamers can carpet-bomb every problem with area-of-effect assaults that appear to be designed for less than two gamers, they usually finish as shortly as they start.

In higher information, Sunset Overdrive is the visible stunner that Xbox One has been needing for therefore lengthy (snoozer Ryse however). This recreation is a cereal field of colour and wild designs, with vast draw distances, spectacular facial animations, swarms of boil-covered mutants, humorous explosion results, and clean body charges to increase the recreation’s sense of velocity.

Simply as essential is how the recreation handles plot—specifically, that it creates a way of place with out demanding the participant essentially spend money on issues like characters or gags. Jokes and snide feedback come and go too quickly for gamers to ever really feel like the writers care all too critically about any of them, making it far simpler to digest than a humor-loaded recreation that takes its personal humor too significantly.

My essential beef with the humor got here with the recreation’s repeated want to break the fourth wall. This was wonderful to some extent, however when the principal character retains mocking the recreation’s comparatively boring quest construction, it begins to really feel like choosing a very annoying scab.

Even these formulaic fetch quests are forgivable, as a result of Insomniac spit-shined the maneuvers and always-grinding fight—the core loop of the gameplay—as opposed to making an attempt to reinvent the open-world wheel. Sunset Overdrive is an enormous, dumb, quick shooter that is aware of its place in the huge, dumb gaming pantheon and, fairly frankly, revels in it.

The Good

  • Parkour system combines velocity, power-ups, and rewards to anchor the recreation’s satisfying core.
  • Fight matches into always-moving system with out making aiming or navigation a ache throughout the recreation’s memorable, explosive firefights.
  • Between hulking beasts, killer robots, and a fantastic, ultra-bright metropolis, this recreation is Xbox One’s prime beaut.
  • Surprisingly humorous plot is aware of its place on this high-octane recreation—and enjoys a stellar voice forged.

The Dangerous

  • Marketing campaign mode can really feel prefer it’s operating on autopilot.
  • Weapons might look cool or humorous, however you’ve got seen ’em earlier than.
  • Multiplayer modes have not been scaled for problem with five-or-more gamers.

The Ugly

  • Mocking your recreation’s largest points by way of jokes does not repair them.

Verdict: Xbox One house owners in want of an action-parkour repair can buy, purchase, purchase.