I don’t know how many of you remember (or were even born yet) the year 1996 but it was totes cray cray. The Scream Franchise got it’s start, Jean Luc Picard tommy gunned a bunch of Borgs, Super Mario not only got a RPG but revolutionized 3D with 64, Naughty Dog charged through with the Playstations mascot of Crash Bandicoot, 2pac released All Eyez on Me, Coolio had beef with Weird Al Yankovic and Nickelback released their very first albums (yes I checked they released 2 that year). Doing research for this intro I was like “Yo, ‘96 was off the hook.” way more than my 8 year old mind could of handled.
But I digress, 1996 also gave us Disruptor a First Person Shooter on the original Playstation in which you play a Lightstorm Trooper with special psionic powers by Insomniac Games. It started their trend of well received games (though there are some reviews out there who put the game on blast saying it didn’t hold a candle to Duke Nukem 3D) and two years later they released the first of what would become the Spyro Trilogy. From there we got Ratchet & Clank upon Ratchet & Clank games with a couple of Resistance titles spread out here and there. The one thing keeping all these titles in common is the fact they were all first party titles for the Playstation.
As you are probably aware by now it wasn’t to last and they betrayed the brand loyalty, making a game for both PS3 and 360. Fuse which most of you probably didn’t play as it sold rather poorly and faced development hell switching styles (because ya know, EA gonna EA) a few times going from a tongue in cheek action game to a serious sci fi action game with lots of the tongue cheek elements left in to stick out like a sore thumb. But if you ever do get the chance to play, it’s not terrible. There was also Outernauts for the IOS which was deemed unprofitable due to a small fanbase but that isn’t why we are here either, moving on!
Sunset Overdrive started development in 2010 and drew inspiration from Tony Hawk, Jet Set Radio and Prince of Persia and after finishing the game I can clearly see it wearing those inspirations on it sleeve. If, like me, you were late jumping on to the Xbox One and missed this title here is a quick run down of the game. People drink an Energy Drink called OverCharge Delirium XT or OCD which quickly mutates those who drink leaving you to customize a character, get loads of really cool improved guns and grind around the awesomepocalypse trying to escape the city. There is a larger story at play but it is a game that isn’t about that, the story is just there to move the beats of the game along.
Everything about Sunset Overdrive screams Punk Rock from the last 40 years from the soundtrack, neon colours, art style hell even the games attitude screams unapologetic Punk Rock. The game offers you that awesomepocalypse and it delivers it in spades with lots of monsters and robots to destroy, awesome power ups, balls to the wall styles as walking is frowned upon in this game and meta humor which works so perfectly. In Sunset Overdrive your character knows they are in a game commenting on all the different ways you respawn, predicting the story beats of how a game like this should play out or not being happy with particular moments. Towards the end one mission has you back tracking to collect all of the NPC’s offering sidequest’s sidequest notifications to return to the store.
One of the coolest things about Sunset Overdrive is it’s music, the game features a Dynamic Audio System which is a fancy way to say what you to onscreen effects what your ears hear. Taking on tonnes of mutates and the pressure is on? The music will get faster. Starting doing stylish kills? The music becomes more frantic. Cruising around collecting items to craft some power ups? You get a nice base line to do that. All this helps the player to really feel involved with what is going and the impact on the world at larger.
Is Sunset Overdrive a game that was robbed of a GOTY in 2014? No, not at all. Though it isn’t a game that is trying to be anything more than it is. Overdrive simply offers a fun way to zip around a city killing mutants with Teddy Bears that have explosives duct tapped to them. I will admit it did take a couple of hours for it to warm up to me as what I was expecting and what I got were two very different things but I am so glad that I was given it. It is a game that can easily drain some hours away leaving you with a smile on your face because sometimes carrying an AI hub around a city while it has an emotional breakdown refusing to call you anything other than asshole is all a game needs.