When gamers hear the name Insomniac Games, visions of several first party PlayStation exclusives come to mind. Insomniac has crafted classic franchises, such as Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank and Resistance. The year is 2014 and Insomniac has opted to lend their creative talents to Microsoft’s next-gen machine. Their major contribution to the Xbox One comes in the form of an incredible open-world shooter called Sunset Overdrive.
Sunset Overdrive’s plot exudes elements of punk attitude and going against the big wigs that hover over the free world. A massive conglomerate known as FizzCo introduces a new energy drink – OverCharge Delirium XT. Those unlucky enough to chug a whole can of this stuff turn into mutated, bloodthirsty creatures. Your custom created character comes in close contact with the anarchy that erupts as the entire city is closed off to the world, leaving you and some fellow survivors to fend off these disgusting mutants. The story here is fun to follow thanks to jokes that always hit the mark, a wide range of interesting protagonists and antagonists, and several nods to modern pop culture.
Sunset Overdrive takes place within a huge open world. The conveniently named Sunset City looks like a punk rock poster come to life within a sprawling metropolis, with huge parks, hundreds of apartment buildings, enormous skyscrapers and an entire network of power lines, streets and alleyways between them, all pulsing with vibrant colors and lights. But the size of Sunset City isn’t about setting alone; Moving your hero around Sunset City provides half of the fun. Your character can boost through the air, bounce off of cars, skate alongside rails and perform an impressive array of parkour stunts. The feeling of constant motion and racking up your temporary boost meter by doing tricks adds so much to an open world setting that has become more of a convention than an exciting feature in most AAA titles. If there are any barriers to jumping straight into Sunset City it’s the controls, which take some getting used to, and a wonky camera that can be a hazard while you’re careening down the street and trying to focus on a specific point of interest.
The majority of Sunset Overdrive is composed of main story missions, traversal challenges, tower defense mini games and a myriad of smaller side missions. Each task is a joy to play through, thanks to an abundance of variety to be found in each subset. One minute you’re taking down a pissed off FizzCo mascot and the next you’re using a wrecking ball to smash tons of invading mutants. The mission variety here offers hours of gameplay. The multiplayer modes are just as engaging. Defending your base against swarms of energy drink filled mutant with human allies never grows tiresome.
If there’s one thing we love about Insomniac Games, it has to be the developer’s creative collection of zany weaponry. Sunset Overdrive is packed with a ton of weapons that you wish you could stock up on for the zombie apocalypse, including a shotgun that shoots flame rounds, a harpoon gun that releases a pool of overcharge, a lethal bowling ball rocket launcher and a vinyl-launching machine gun. Each weapon feels distinct and fun to use, but it becomes clear pretty quickly that some guns are better than others. It’s easy to get attached to certain weapons because of their ability to down enemies more quickly. While there’s always the option to level up and upgrade each weapon, if the one you like happens to be fairly low on damage output, it’ll never match the firepower of its contemporaries.
The better implemented systems at play in this shooter are the use of amps and overdrives. These permanent boosters make your character stand out by adding special attributes to weapons and abilities. Equipping your melee weapon with the ability to send out flames, for example, mixes things up enough to make every subsequent enemy encounter feel fresh and new. The name of the game is mixing and matching different overdrives to power up your weapon classes and raise your defense against certain enemies.
Sunset Overdrive is one of the killer apps finally available on the Xbox One. The game’s personality-filled open world, rocking soundtrack, cool array of weaponry and never-ending variety of missoins make Sunset Overdrive a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Images: Insomniac Games