Sunset Overdrive

Gamescom 2014: Sunset Overdrive Preview – Amped Up

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By now you'll be more than fully aware of what Insomniac Games is attempting to achieve with Sunset Overdrive. The studio wants to kick the stuffy shooter genre square in the crotch, dousing the usually dour browns and greys in day-glo orange soda, mutating it into something that places fun squarely at the front and centre of its experience. Cherry-picking the best bits from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater – the combos, score multipliers and tricks – and open-world games like Dead Rising – the crowds of enemies, the makeshift weaponry – Sunset Overdrive is shaping up to be a glorious hybrid; a game that celebrates what games can be when let completely off the leash.

Set in 2027 following the events of a soft drink launch gone horribly awary that comes to be known as 'Horror Night', Sunset Overdrive sees you playing as a former janitor whose life takes a strange turn when he/she discovers that they're immune to the effects of the offending orange beverage. Drinking Fizzco's Overcharge Delirium XT transforms people into hideous, mutated abominations called the 'OD'd' that come in a variety of weird and wonderful guises, ranging from the small to the winged and gargantuan.

This latest look at the game sees Sunset Overdrive's customisable hero, or in this case, heroine, taking the fight to one of Sunset City's insane gangs who have emerged amid the ensuing chaos that has evented in the so-called 'awesomepocalypse'. Holed up in the Japanese Heritage Museum, we find the Troop Bushido gang keeping the place locked down. Essentially, they're a brigade of idiotic boy and girl scouts led by Scoutmaster Brylcreem. There's some stuff involving a sword and what not, which eventually sees us sent on a mission to locate a fearsome katana sword that we can then wield as a weapon.

Leading us through Sunset Overdrive's free-roaming gameplay, we're shown a host of new enemies, including Fizzco Security Forces; an army of robots charged with covering up the fallout of Horror Night. No one is safe from their indiscriminate attacks, as the Riflebots and Bladebots relentlessly give chase, but you have a significant edge.

Not only do you have an arsenal of cobbled together weaponry at your disposal, like the TNTeddy, Captain Ahab harpoon gun, a bowling ball-firing bazooka called 'The Dude' (we always love a good Big Lebowski reference) and Turret Copters (toy choppers with handguns strapped to them) but your agility enables you to bounce off of cars, vents, tree, bushes, awnings and parasols, as well as enabling you to wall-run and leap to grind rails, ledges and rooftops. It all makes getting around the city a joy.

As you progress, you'll earn XP and unlock new abilities called Amps, like an air dash that'll help you to string together increasingly elaborate and acrobatic combos, expanding the number of traversal options at your fingertips. Performing feats within the world will earn you badges – which will undoubtedly feed into the game's achievements – so grinding a certain distance will earn you a grinding badge, wall-running for a certain distance get the idea. Your hero/heroine will also keep you informed of what's going on amid the chaos with incidental chatter, such as “that's it for ammo”, so know when to reload or stock up. They'll also comment on scenarios as they unfold, offering pithy one-liners. Here's hoping this doesn't grow too tiresome over time.

With the search on for the sword, we see a bit of Sunset Overdrive's verticality as we negotiate our way to the top of a tower where the katana is held. Only the samurai sword has been taken away already, meaning it's time to craft our own blade instead. Swiping some gold metal (not gold), our heroine swigs some booze and passes out, emerging from a porta-potty slightly hungover, but closer to where we need to be. This is Sunset Overdrive's novel twist on fast travel. Nice.

Beset by Spawners – OD'd with a dumpster on their back that spawn mini enemies – melee-based Muggers and nasty Gunkers who'll try and knock you from grind rails with slippery goo, and other OD'd, a frantic battle unfolds and the action on-screen begins to get incredibly hectic. Zoning enemies and eliminating the most threatening first appears to be part and parcel of the strategy, which in this case sees us targeting the Gunker and the gas tanks embedded into its mutated hide. The ultimate goal is to fire up a vent situated at a nuclear plant, creating a forge where we can melt the gold metal and craft our sword.

Dealing with the Spawners, Muggers, Gunkers and a Hurker and Blower that soon show up to the party – the former boasting a huge digger scoop for an arm, while the latter is a long range OD'd fused with a leaf blower – things soon get even more chaotic, as we attempt to ascend the cooling tower to throw the switch for the steam vent.

At the top, there are flying Wingers (who also spawn Flobbers) to be cut down to size using a Fizzco robot rifle we have to hand, meaning all that's left to do is smash the nuclear plant's temperature controls back on the ground floor. Once that's all done, it's time to forge the sword, which is a suitably OTT act, as you're blown to the top of the tower and back down again at speed to hammer the gold into a useful shape.

Three massive strikes from a great height and we've given birth to a new flaming sword; Excalamune. Take it to a nearby reservoir to cool it off, and the mission is complete, adding a formidable new weapon to your inventory that carves through OD'd like a hot knife through butter.

Later Amps you'll also unlock will transform you into a powerhouse, as you leave a lava trail in your wake or drop an explosion as you jump. The entire experience seems to be geared towards pure and unadulterated enjoyment. You'll even encounter human enemies called Scabs, who'll kill anything that moves just to steal their stuff. Tossers (tee-hee), Shooters and Rushers will all present their own unique challenge, as well as adding plenty of variety into each combat encounter you're faced with.

This is but one brief look at Sunset Overdrive, but already we can see massive potential for technicolour mayhem in every corner of Sunset City's expansive playground. There's an almost anarchic sense of humour and reckless fun at play that's hugely infectious, promising to make Sunset Overdrive the kick up the backside for the genre that Insomniac Games is aiming for. As long as the gameplay mechanics are tight and the action doesn't spiral into too much chaos, Sunset Overdrive should be a game worth overdosing on.

Sunset Overdrive will be leaping exclusively onto Xbox One on October 28th in North America and October 31st in Europe.


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Game Info
Insomniac Games


US October 28, 2014
Europe October 31, 2014

HDD Space Required : 22.98 GB
Price: $29.99USD
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