Do or Die
Sunset City is absolutely bursting with colour; full of bright neon rails and glowing greenery. If you told me the colour grey didn't actually exist in Sunset City I might just believe you.
Choices, choices, choices
At first the various ways you can interact with the environment can seem daunting, with almost too many options to consider, often leaving you hitting the ground in frustration as you try to juggle controls of movement whilst aiming and shooting. After a short period though things start to make sense and the ability to create elaborate chains of movements clicks into place and becomes second nature.
It's then that you can start experimenting with all the other elements of combat such as the suite of typically ridiculous weapons that the studio is so known for conceiving. The phallic Flaming Compensator which sets enemies on fire, a Roman Candle gun that fires a hail of fireworks and the High Fidelity which bounces vinyl records between enemies for ever increasing damage. These and more have specific strengths and weaknesses which might be suited to different enemies or situations, with the Overdrive infested mutants susceptible to different weapons than armoured humans or robots might be.
Adding a multiplier to the variety is the Amps system which is a series of special abilities which can be applied to several different aspects of the gameplay. Amps are enabled depending on how much you fill your style meter. You fill up your style meter by chaining kills, grinds, jumps and wall runs into increasingly longer combos. The more you move and chain together kills the more powers you enable. Each amp is seemingly more insane than the last. Hero amps are the first to unlock at style level one, granting you the option of a mildly useful ability such as knocking enemies over when you dodge an attack. Level two brings in Weapon amps which range from increased damage while grinding to increasing the probability that a kill with a weapon will set off a nuclear blast, while different melee amps augment your attacks with fireballs and shock waves. Finally, style level 3 tips things over the edge by allowing powers such as random lightning strikes from the sky and leaving pillars of fire in your wake.
Love it or Hate it?
You're given plenty of opportunity to exercise your abilities with the usual selection of side missions and challenges which have you testing your skills with the traversal system, tearing up the city with different weapons for a variety of reasons and collecting different components around the city which are used to unlock amps and upgrade your character.
The campaign missions are a well paced 10 hour ride which will introduce you to the wacky world and its crazy characters throughout. The cut of Sunset Overdrive's jib is truly Marmite material. It's constantly breaks the fourth wall, looking and commenting into the camera, making fun of gameplay mechanics and systems within the world, and - if you choose not to toggle the gore or vulgarity filters - a healthy dose of profanity. Personally I felt it hit more than it missed and simply benefited greatly from not taking itself too seriously. Missions were frequently varied and the characters and dialogue were often funny, while the slow drip of weapons, amps and upgrades made sure I was always eager to jump back in and test the next crazy unlock.
Sweet Combo dude!
- Traversal and combat
- Interesting vibrant world
- Impressive amount of action on screen
Did you even play Jet Set Radio?
- Comedy mileage may vary
- Initially overwhelming
Sunset Overdrive Xbox One Review
After misfiring on their first independent outing, Insomniac have clearly learned their lesson by sticking to their ridiculous guns and leveraging their greatest creative strengths to deliver exactly what the studio behind the game and the gamers sat in front of it needed.
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