House of the Dead: Overkill (Video Game) - Dread Central
Connect with us

Reviews

House of the Dead: Overkill (Video Game)

Published

on

House of the Dead: Overkill reviewReviewed by Mr. Dark

Available for the Nintendo Wii

Developed by Headstrong Games

Published by Sega of America


(70’s movie guy voiceover): One man … pushed too far in a world gone mad! They took a classic arcade series and turned it into a grindhouse spectacular …. now he wants revenge…blood on his hands, gunpowder on his sleeves, and venom in his heart! Mr. Dark … a Nyko ‘Perfect Shot’ controller, and introducing Uncle Creepy as the slutty cheerleader …. in …. OVERKILL!

That’s right, folks, get ready for some grainy, bloody, grindhouse-y goodness. House Of The Dead: Overkill is a completely fresh take not only on the venerable HOTD series, but of light gun games in general.

Overkill is technically a prequel to the HOTD games, featuring Agent G as a younger man. While that would logically put him back in the 70’s, the game references many modern concepts and technology, so it becomes clear pretty quickly that including Agent G is a move intended to link Overkill with the other games. It works, but don’t expect some amazing insight into the character; he’s just part of the two-man team behind the guns this go-round.

The original games had very little story, where Overkill has a ton of cutscenes and a wacky horror plot involving mad scientists, criminal masterminds, fast cars, strippers with hearts of gold, and brains in jars. The only thing more over the top than the plot is the presentation. From the scratchy, live-action opening credits, you can see the influence here: this is a grindhouse game. The load screen is an old ratings poster for “Rated XXX”. While the content never quite lives up to that infamous rating, it’s damn close.

House of the Dead: Overkill reviewThis is not your daddy’s light gun game. The f-bomb is dropped more times than Samuel Jackson with a stubbed toe. Some of the plot twists are just entirely messed-up and wrong. And the closing scene … I guarantee you will say “wait, did that just happen?!?” It’s that twisted.

The game itself is a big step up from previous HOTD titles. It’s still an on-rails light gun game, and features similar play to the HOTD of the past. Stages are dramatically larger and there is a gun shop that allows you to purchase new weapons and upgrade existing ones. That alone gives you much more variety and replay value than any other light gun game I’ve played. Different levels work better with different weapons, and it’s a matter of trial and error to see what works for you.

Another big innovation is how the levels are presented. Each level is a “trailer” for a different “film”, complete with voice-over guy and movie poster. Once you play through a level, it’s available as a longer and more difficult “director’s cut” version. You can also add more “mutants” (AKA zombies) to the standard version if you want more of a challenge. All of this adds a pretty high amount of replay value.

Although this is a Wii exclusive, the graphics are pretty sharp (at least as good as the recent HOTD 2& 3 Return release) and they have an internal achievement system similar to the Xbox Live system. Different tasks will unlock extra content such as videos, 3D renders, and concept art.

House of the Dead: Overkill reviewAs for downsides, the sharp graphics come at a cost: occasionally, you’ll run into pauses as the Wii chugs as hard as it can to paint a scene. It rarely effects game play, but it’s noticeable and annoying. Also, enemy variety seems to have taken a hit from the old arcade titles. It doesn’t seem like there are as many different types of things to shoot, especially in the early levels. You’ll be capping standard zombies running at you for much of the game, although this never stops being amusing as they do have a variety of skins for said zombies. The Carny level sticks out, if you’ve ever had the desire to pop a round through the face of a clown. And really, who hasn’t?

There are also some mini-games that are more fun than they should be. From a shooting gallery that could be Duck Hunt for grown-ups, to “protect your color of civilians” designed for multiplayer, these brief game modes provide a change of pace from the story-driven main game. Also, their ability to support four players simultaneously should make for insane party gaming.

Throughout the game, the sense of humor is what sticks with you the most. This is a funny game. While being a bad-ass horror shooter, it also successfully mocks horror games, horror movies, and the whole modern grindhouse nostalgia phenomenon as a whole. It also features the most clever use of the “Scene Missing” placard you’ll ever run into.

All in all, Overkill is a fantastic addition to the House Of The Dead franchise. There are a few small shortcomings, primarily due to the inherent limitations of the Wii, but they’re overshadowed by the hilarious dialog and incredibly fun gun gaming. Horror fans, with Madworld coming next month, there’s no need to hesitate. Go out and grab a Wii and a Nyko Perfect Shot and put down some stumblers.

Game Features

  • Two-player co-op
  • Up to four-player mini-game support

    “>“>“>“>

    4 out of 5

    Discuss House of the Dead: Overkill in the Dread Central forums!

    Comments

  • Continue Reading
    Advertisement
    Comments

    Reviews

    Edge of Isolation Review – A Movie with a Simple Message: Don’t Trust Anyone

    Published

    on

    Starring Michael Marcel, Marem Hassler, Alexandra Peters

    Directed by Jeff Houkal


    Sometimes, relying on the kindness of strangers is the thing that’ll do your gullible asses in – kindness? Strangers? Come on – think about it! Even further proof of said warning comes in the form of director Jeff Houkal’s brutally blatant film, Edge Of Isolation – won’t you come inside and grab a seat? You see! You fell right into another trap – jeezus, people…don’t trust just anyone, will ya?

    Set up in a simplistic format, we’ve got a traveling couple (Lance and Kendra) whose Jeep, conveniently enough decides to shit the bed along a desolate stretch of roadway, leaving them at the mercy of the Polifer family, a slightly odd bunch of backwoods residents. This particular clan isn’t exactly wrapped too tightly, and they’re not afraid to let their freak flags fly, that’s for sure. You see, the family has been deeply-rooted in these here woods, and their “hospitality” has kept them fed for quite some time, and with a fresh supply of unsuspecting commuters stopping in at varying spells, their stomachs never truly seem to growl out of sustained hunger…oh, that kindness will bite you in the ass every single waking moment.

    As I mentioned earlier, the film is constructed fairly simple, yet effective in its barbarism, and those who dig survivalist-horror will be wringing their mitts in anticipation for this one. While some editing does look a bit hokey, the practical effects more than make up for an at-times bit of strewn-about plot navigation, but who’s keeping score? Certainly not me, that’s for sure. I absolutely revel in low-budgeted films that don’t necessarily have the looks and feels of such, and Edge Of Isolation is one of those presentations that is certainly worth its weight in blood and guts – do yourself a solid and give this one a look when it becomes available to the masses, and for f**k’s sake, don’t take up anyone’s offer to chill at their place when your ride breaks down – get AAA and save your life (the previous statement was in no way affiliated or endorsed by the Triple A Automotive group – just sayin’).

    • Film
    3.5

    Summary

    Edge Of Isolation doesn’t need a full-blown allocation to keep future stranded motorists from losing their heads – all they have to do is push “play.”

    Sending
    User Rating 0 (0 votes)

    Comments

    Continue Reading

    Reviews

    Threads Blu-ray Review – The Horror of Nuclear War Hits Home Video

    Published

    on

    Starring Death, Destruction, Famine, Unimaginable Suffering

    Directed by Mick Jackson

    Distributed by Severin Films


    Although not quite reaching the tense heights felt during the Cold War, talk of nuclear annihilation has nonetheless been on the tips of tongues following a recent public spat between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un. The difference being that unlike the decades-long stalemate between America and Russia, this kerfuffle feels more like two boys breaking out the ruler to measure package size. Regardless, the truth remains that as long as nuclear weapons are held by any country the risk of a catastrophic event is always on the table – and their use should never be used as a casual threat. The world has seen firsthand the level of devastation that can be wrought with their use; a reminder none want to endure again. This seems as fitting a time as any for Severin Films to breathe new life on home video into Threads (1984), a frightening portrayal of what could happen in the U.K. following nuclear war. Similar in concept to America’s The Day After (1983), Threads is a chilling, bleak vision that showcases the breakdown of society prior to, and after, the detonation of nuclear weaponry. Nothing is glamorized; there are no heroics. By the time the credits roll viewers will be left chilled to the core, having witnessed so much destruction that should never be allowed to occur in a modern society.

    The action is centered in Sheffield, U.K. where we follow the lives of a few distinct families and citizens who represent different sectors of the populace. The events leading up to nuclear war are depicted via television and radio broadcasts, with anchors reporting on increasing tensions in Iran following a coup allegedly backed by the U.S. In response, the Soviet Union moves troops into northern Iran to protect their own interests. The standoff becomes increasingly strained when the U.S. reports the submarine USS Los Angeles has gone missing in the Persian Gulf. Soon after, a collision between Soviet and American battle cruisers forces the U.S. President to issue a warning to the Soviets that any further action may lead to armed confrontation.

    As all of this is occurring the citizens of Sheffield are attempting to go about their normal lives… until a melee involving nuclear-tipped weaponry prompts the government to assemble emergency operations groups. With the U.K. now completely gripped by fear, the threads of society begin to rapidly unspool, with citizens divided over local government response while runs on grocery stores and looting become widespread. Finally, in the early morning a few weeks after this skirmish began air raid sirens are sounded and within minutes a nuclear warhead is detonated over the North Sea, emitting an EMP and knocking out all communication in the country. The attack wreaks havoc, decimating the country and wiping out millions of lives in one swift blow. Those are the lucky ones.

    Those who survive the initial blast are met with highly-radioactive fallout, disease, famine, radiation sickness, crumbling infrastructure and streets littered with rotting corpses. Society has suffered a complete breakdown. Money no longer holds any value. Nuclear winter brings about a dearth of crops and a massive drop in temperatures. Food is the only commodity with any value – and it is long before any can be produced. Population levels reach those of the medieval times. Even a decade after the blast, the areas devastated by nuclear war have only rebuilt to a level on par with the Industrial Revolution. Children are still born. Language is limited, due to the lack of proper schooling. Little hope looms on the horizon as those left alive scrounge and scavenge, eking out a miserable existence.

    Director Mick Jackson made a smart decision by shooting Threads using a neorealist lens, employing unknowns in place of familiar faces. This gives the picture a documentarian feel while also scuttling the notion of seeing famous faces either survive the catastrophe or become heroes. There is no silver lining to be found. The initial blast rocks the U.K. on a grand scale, brought to visceral life by Jackson’s use of miniatures and montage to convey a massive scale of destruction. Fires rage, Sheffield is in ruins, charred corpses line the streets, and radiation poisoning leaves survivors roiling in pain and vomiting endlessly. The brutal verisimilitude is gut-wrenching; Jackson ensures every bit of pain and perseverance is palpable.

    Threads should be mandatory viewing, serving as a warning of the very real potential outcome should civilized nations resort to using nuclear weaponry on a global scale. No good can come of mutually assured destruction. All of the posturing and battling between the U.S. and Russia pales in comparison to the annihilation of millions of lives and decades of industry, all wiped out in the blink of an eye. This is true horror.

    Given its low budget and television roots, it should come as no surprise that Threads looks on a rougher side of HD. Severin touts the 1.33:1 1080p image as being a “new 2K remaster”, though the provenance of the elements used is not mentioned. Truthfully, the grainy, rough-hewn picture is a perfect complement to the gritty imagery seen throughout and anything more polished might have lessened the impact. The film was shot on 16mm and blown-up to 35mm; again, a smart aesthetic decision given the documentarian feel Jackson wanted. The cinematography reminded me of Harlan County U.S.A. (1976), an American documentary on coal workers. Damage can be seen throughout, as well as plenty of flecks and debris but, again, none of this was particularly irksome because it feels organic to this decaying world.

    Audio comes in the form of a simple English DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. First off, I highly recommend turning on the subtitles because the English accents are thick and plenty of U.K.-specific colloquialisms are used; it helps – a lot. This is a thin track without much direction, employing a workmanlike sound design to get the point across. Explosions have a bit of roar and oomph, but the biggest impact is made by a scene of total silence post-attack. Dialogue is clean and well set within the mix. Subtitles are available in English.

    An audio commentary track is included, featuring director Mick Jackson, moderated by film writer Kier La Janisse & Severin Films’ David Gregory.

    “Audition for the Apocalypse” is an interview with actress Karen Meagher.

    “Shooting the Annihilation” is an interview with director of photography Andrew Dunn.

    “Destruction Designer” is an interview with production designer Christopher Robilliard.

    “Stephen Thrower on THREADS” finds the author and film historian discussing the production history and impact of the film.

    A “U.S. trailer” as well as a “Re-release trailer” are included.

    Special Features:

    • NEW 2K REMASTER of the film prepared for this release
    • Audio Commentary with Director Mick Jackson, Moderated by Film Writer Kier–La Janisse and Severin Films’ David Gregory
    • Audition For the Apocalypse: Interview with Actress, Karen Meagher
    • Shooting the Annihilation: Interview with Director of Photography, Andrew Dunn
    • Destruction Designer: Interview with Production Designer, Christopher Robilliard
    • Interview with Film Writer, Stephen Thrower
    • U.S. Trailer
    • Threads
    • Special Features
    3.5

    Summary

    Brutal and unflinching in its desire to convey a story true to reality, Threads is a difficult and necessary viewing experience that shows firsthand the level of terror wrought by man’s hand.

    Sending
    User Rating 4 (1 vote)
    Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)

    Comments

    Continue Reading

    Reviews

    Annihilation Review – A Fascinating, Gorgeous New Take on Body Horror

    Published

    on

    Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac

    Written and directed by Alex Garland


    Have you ever walked out of a theater and thought to yourself, “That was more than just a movie. That was an experience!“? It’s only happened to me a handful of times, the last one I remember being Mad Max: Fury Road. Last night that sensation washed over me as the credits for Annihilation began their crawl after a near two-hour runtime. I remained in my seat until every name slipped by before I found it within myself to stand up and leave the theater. All I could think was, “I’ve just witnessed something incredible.

    An adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s first book in his The Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation follows Lena (Portman), an ex-soldier-turned-biologist professor at Johns Hopkins whose husband, Kane (Isaac), has been missing for a year after leaving on a covert mission about which Lena has been able to get zero information. When Kane mysteriously returns and almost immediately falls gravely ill, Lena finds herself in a secret government facility that is monitoring a strange and potentially cataclysmic phenomenon: a strange shimmering dome that appeared in a remote region after a meteorite landing, a dome that grows larger with each passing day. Realizing that the answer to her husband’s malady may very well lie within that area, Lena joins four other women as they embark on an expedition into what is called “Area X.” However, it’s quickly realized that nothing is quite what it seems to be and that the laws of nature no longer apply.

    The majesty of Annihilation is the time it takes to build the story and to ramp up the tension. While it has no problem with frenetic scenes, the film moves at an almost poetic pace, every moment adding something to the overarching narrative. From showing the relationship between Lena and Kane to the interactions among the five women who venture into “Area X” to the action sequences, every part of the movie feels necessary. This is even seen in the climax of the film, which is a 10-minute scene that features almost zero dialogue and yet feels fraught with danger.

    Visually, the movie is absolutely gorgeous. The jungle that takes up most of Area X is lush and beautiful. Crepuscular rays break through the leaves and tease a rainbow iridescence thanks to the “shimmer.” A wide variety of flowers impossibly blossom from the same source, a result of the genetic mutations occurring within the dome. Strange fungal patterns explode across the walls of abandoned buildings, their patterns a tumorous cornucopia of colors and textures. Even when the movie brings gore into the equation, it does so with an artist’s gaze. Without ruining the moment, there is a scene where the team comes across the body of a man from a previous expedition. For as macabre as the visual was, it was equally entrancing, calling to mind the strangely beautiful designs of the “clickers” from The Last of Us.

    Each setting in the story has a visual style that sets it apart from one another but still feels connected. The governmental facility feels cold and sterile while the jungles of Area X are warm and verdant. As the team ventures further into the contaminated zone, we are taken to the beach next to the lighthouse that acts as “ground zero” for the mysterious event. Here we see trees made of crystal and bone-white roots clinging to the nautical beacon. In this third act, we’re taken into the basement of the lighthouse, which can only be described as Giger-esque, with strange ribbed walls that feel like they pulsate with a life of their own.

    The characters of Annihilation feel real, and the exposition given doesn’t feel forced. When Lena is rowing a boat with Cass, the sharing of information feels like camaraderie, not awkward plot reveals. Additionally, no character is without his/her flaws. Even Lena has her own issues that burden her with guilt, making her journey into Area X all the more understandable. As the stress of the mission wears on these women, the seeds of distrust begin germinating into deadly situations that have very real consequences, including the appearance of a bear that would be right at home in the Silent Hill universe. Also, kudos to Garland for writing the film in such a way where the gender roles not only feel natural but are never focused on in a disingenuous manner.

    Musically, Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, who scored Garland’s previous film Ex Machina, create a soundtrack that is atmospheric, haunting, and hypnotizing. The music elevates the dreamy phantasmagoria of the film without overpowering any scene. Meanwhile, cinematographer Rob Hardy, who also worked on Ex Machina, helps create a film where nearly every frame is a work of art.

    Those entering Annihilation expecting a clearly defined sci-fi/horror offering will be disappointed. There is certainly a great deal of both to be had, but the movie doesn’t want to offer something fleeting. Instead, it uses those genres as a foundation to create a film that will stay with viewers long after they leave the theater. When you get to the core of Annihilation, it’s a body horror film that pays homage to the work of David Cronenberg while carving an entirely new path of its own. Just don’t expect it to hold your hand and answer all of its mysteries. Some questions are left for you to see through on your own.

    I do not say this lightly, but I truly believe that Alex Garland has offered audiences one of the best genre films in recent years.

    • Annihilation
    5.0

    Summary

    Annihilation is a bold, gorgeous, and stunning melting pot of horror, sci-fi, and drama, culminating in one of the most fascinating films I’ve seen this decade.

    Sending
    User Rating 0 (0 votes)

    Comments

    Continue Reading

    Exclusive Clip – Primal Rage

    Go Ad Free!

    Support Dread Central on Patreon!
    Advertisement
    Advertisement

    Recent Comments

    Advertisement

    Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

    * indicates required

    Trending

    Copyright © 2017 Dread Central Media LLC