Review: Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One)

Surviving The Awesomepocalypse...In Style

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Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox One (Reviewed)

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Content Warning

With Sunset Overdrive, there is some content to be concerned about from a Christian/parental perspective. The game has gore, foul language, and some suggestive material as well.

While the suggestive material can’t really be avoided if you play through the game, the team at Insomniac has gone a long way toward making the game more friendly by adding in both a gore filter and a language filter. While the language filter won’t remove the cuss words from the dialog, it will issue a censor-style *bleep* noise in its place. You can still use context to figure out what was said, but it’s a step in the right direction (and it makes for some hilarious moments).

There’s a scene in the game that aims to mock a drug trip. It’s fairly brief and involves no paraphernalia. One of the items that particularly concerned me, though, is that even with the language filter turned on, the music isn’t censored. From what I could make out, some of the lyrics were still pretty salty.

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Opening

Sunset Overdrive is one of those games I’ve had on my radar for quite some time. I’m no open-world connoisseur, but I occasionally find one to dig my teeth into. With a promising look and sense of style. I couldn’t help but be excited for Insomniac’s newest entry. I’m ecstatic to report that I’m not disappointed.

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Story

FizzCo runs Sunset City. The popular energy drink company is on the cusp of doing it again. The night they’re set to launch their newest product, Overcharge, something goes terribly wrong. Everyone at the launch party begins to mutate, slaughtering everyone in their path before turning on you. Saved by a grizzly old man, you’re led to a group of survivors willing to help you root out the evil that’s trying to plant its roots.

Sunset Overdrive‘s story is a rollercoaster ride from one minute the next, chock full of crazy, colorful characters that will have fun running all over the city to complete tasks for them. There’s a ton of cheese here but it’s used to great effect, digging into pop culture and beyond. The pacing is solid and the characters are vibrant and memorable. It’s no Citizen Kane, but they keep it fun and lighthearted throughout.

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Gameplay

I love what Insomniac has done with Sunset Overdrive. They’ve taken an open world, added some wild traversal mechanics, style multipliers, and crazy weapons, and sent you to wreak havoc.

First, let’s talk about the traversal mechanics. You can grind on rails, wires, and the like to get from one place to another. To help keep you off the ground and moving, you can also bounce off nearly anything else – cars, umbrellas, you name it. If you get off track, you can always wall run to keep your momentum. You can also glide across the water and air-dash later in the game. There’s really no need to ever set foot on the ground or fast-travel. Getting there with what they give you is just too much fun.

In conjunction with the traversal mechanics, you can get upgrades that grant bonuses when your style multiplier reaches different tiers. You can roll into a fireball at level 1 and have the ground breaking apart in an inferno by level 4. You can also get bonuses to style generation, ammo capacity, and much more based solely on your play style.

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The weaponry in the game is totally bananas. Sure, there are a couple of traditional weapons, but why would you even consider those when you can get guns that shoot vinyl records, explosive teddy bears, bowling balls, and more? Your guns can even level up, allowing you to boost them with weapon upgrades, like a chance to freeze enemies. It gives you ample opportunity to experiment and find what you like.

There’s little in this package I can complain about. If I had to pick something, it would be defend-a-point missions. They apply a lot more pressure with waves of mutants, but they let you exercise some cool traps along the way and they really aren’t too stringent, so they still remain fun and interesting.

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Presentation

In sticking with the game’s thematic elements, the aesthetic further drives home the look and feel of whimsy the “Awesomepocalypse” has brought. Everything in Sunset City, from mutants, to the various characters, to the respawn animations all ooze style and humor. Insomniac has always excelled with a less hard-nosed style and it has never been more evident than here.

While I personally could have done without the punk music that accompanies the game, it’s never intrusive (though some may find some of the lyrics offensive) and does an excellent job matching the game’s aesthetic and driving the on-screen action.

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Conclusion

Microsoft and Insomniac have risen to the challenge set forth by Sony’s inFAMOUS: Second Son. Both have their merits. If I were to compare them to literature, inFAMOUS would be a hard-nosed graphic novel while Sunset Overdrive is a vibrant, arcadey bubble gum comic. At the end of the day, however, Sunset Overdrive wins out on fun factor alone.

I dare say Sunset Overdrive is one of my favorite open world games to date. In terms of sheer fun, precious few games can keep the action pumping so fluidly with such high entertainment value. Everything about this game is in top form: the traversal mechanics, weaponry, characters, and humor, to name a few. Sunset Overdrive is all of the explosive rampage of an energy drink without those nasty, mutant side effects.

The Bottom Line

 

Sunset Overdrive is a top-notch entry to the open-world genre. With a fantastic aesthetic and gameplay mechanics, Insomniac Games has delivered one of the strongest games in the Xbox One's library.

 

9

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Joe Morgan

Gamer, software developer, dog lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace or CrossConsoleGamers, you can find him streaming at Twitch.tv/JoeKnowethGames

1 Comment

  1. Moses on November 8, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Honestly, as both a gamer and a Christian I’m sick n tired of the zombie overdose and fanaticism in gaming and movies. I would say Infamous is better in both life like graphics and originality in story and gameplay, this game feels more like an experiment

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