Sunset Overdrive shares a characteristic with hip-hop in that it has gleefully canabalised anything its developers seem to have taken a shine to. Its free roaming parkour movement owes a debt of inspiration to InFamous, but the player’s ability to grind, bounce and swing through the environment is more reminiscent of Jet Set Radio or the earliest Tony Hawk games.
Its whacky weaponry instantly recalls the Borderlands series and the fact it rewards players for killing with flair steals a central mechanic from Bulletstorm.
Sunset Overdrive takes all of these popular elements in gaming and wraps them together in a package as colourful as it is joyous.
Sunset Overdrive: Plot
One of game’s key strengths is that it refuses to be po-faced or angst-ridden, unlike most modern shooters. In fact, Sunset Overdrive refuses to take itself seriously at all. You could almost hear the developers laughing as the game set out its stall at Microsoft’s keynote, poking fun at everything from cover-based shooters, the COD series and even the idea that games of this ilk should throw the player into doubt as to whether they’ll succeed in the long run.
Set in Sunset City, the game tells the story of a mouthy punk tasked with saving humanity from feral mutants with a stack of silly ordinance.
Sometimes you do get the feeling that, spread out over the length of a sandbox game (that’s 20 plus hours and counting) Sunset Overdrive’s tongue in cheek approach may start to grate.
Kitting out players with weapons that launch sharpened 12” vinyls and exploding teddy bears is one thing. Hanging it all on a plot in which the world went to hell because people were transformed into bloodthirsty mutants by an energy drink is quite another. And yes, that is the plot.
Sunset Overdrive: Features
But it’s doubtful narrative will intrude on the fun. In the hands on we had with the game, we were barely conscious of anything other than the need to bounce, blast and grind our way around town stacking up kills in the most creative way possible.
Fittingly, for its first hands-on demo at E3, Insomniac Games set all of the action in a fairground, filled with exploding roundabouts, strongman tests that summoned electricity and a rollercoaster with sentient carts that try to run the player down.
The action moved at clip, helped in no small part that the player can slow the action with the left trigger – making it easy to draw bead on targets when on the move – and the collection of guns available.
We had a freeze ray. We had a hand cannon. We had the aforementioned vinyl and teddy bear launchers. We even had a gun firing exploding bullets that caused a pair of swirling green dragons to emerge. We also had an AK 47, but who the hell wanted to use that?
Sunset Overdrive: Verdict
We left Sunset Overdrive’s demo grinning. The game’s action and sense of immense fun is simply infectious. Sure, it’s nicked a lot of its best ideas from a ton of other game – and special mention should go to Crackdown, which funnily enough, is being rebooted for next year – but Insomniac Games has made Sunset Overdrive feel like more than the sum of its parts. If it lives up to its E3 demo, come October, Xbox One owners could be grinning like idiots too!
Sunset Overdrive availability: October 28th, 2014
Sunset Overdrive price: £44.86