Sunset Overdrive review for Xbox One

Platform: Xbox One
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Insomniac Games
Medium: Blu-ray
Players: 1-8
Online: Yes

It?s hard to compare Sunset Overdrive to any single game already out there. It certainly borrows elements from other popular series, you?ll see an inFamous influence, along with Insomniac Games own Ratchet & Clank series. But by and large Sunset Overdrive is a pretty unique take on the open-world genre, providing ample amounts of mayhem and humor that?ll keep you entertained throughout the campaign and optional side-content.

Sunset Overdrive kicks off with an apocalyptic event within the titular Sunset City, wherein residents are transformed into mutant monsters dubbed ?The OD?, after consuming copious amounts of the Fizzco produced energy drink OverCharge. You?ll create a custom character (with a large number of customizable options) and attempt to escape Sunset City with the aid of other, very eclectic, survivors. The majority of the story is presented as a very tongue-in-cheek, 4th wall breaking experience. Loads of pop culture references, nods to common video game mechanics, and some general crudeness abound. I found the humor to be pretty hit or miss, with equal amounts of groaning mixed in with legitimate laughs. Sunset Overdrive isn?t going to win any awards in regards to plot, but the story isn?t attempting to be the star here either.

sunset_overdrive_review_blimpClearly, the major focus is gameplay. Sunset Overdrive covers a large, open-world experience divided up into various sections throughout Sunset City. You can freely move between city sections on foot, or you can opt to quickly teleport around various quick-travel spots on the map. Movement is a key part of Sunset Overdrive, with an emphasis on stylish travel, allowing you to grind rails or other hard edges, bounce high on a variety of different objects, flip over obstacles, scurry up ledges, or wall run across buildings horizontally. All modes of travel can be enhanced with a single boost button, greatly increasing your on foot speed. In order to promote these non-standard types of on-foot travel, your basic running speed is greatly reduced, so you?ll spend little time just putting feet to pavement along the various roads and alleys in Sunset City. Not that you can?t simply walk around, but if you do, you?re more susceptible to attack from the various threats that populate the game.

To go along with your unique modes of transportation, Sunset Overdrive features a variety of weapon types to mix up combat with. This is where you?ll get that Ratchet & Clank feeling, as the weapons featured are comprised of unique and odd mechanics. A bowling ball gun, hairspray explosive rockets that split into multiple smaller rockets when launched, a record launcher, and lots, lots more are featured here. I really, really loved the weapon variety, to the point that I had multiple favorites throughout, but still enjoyed checking out new weapons as they became available. And the pace at which these weapons are doled out is perfectly matched with your progress through the campaign, to the point that I still have new weapons to purchase after finishing the main story.

sunset_overdrive_review_arsenalIn an effort to marry the unique travel mechanics with the equally unique weapons, Sunset Overdrive offers a very forgiving targeting system that makes combat more fun than frustrating. While moving you?ll be able to slow down time a bit when aiming, allowing you to easily point and softly lock-on to nearby enemies. However, even without holding in the left trigger to aim, you can still generally hit nearby enemies as long as you get your targeting reticule close enough to whatever you?re trying to shoot. It?s not a system entirely devoid of skill, but it doesn?t require an insane amount of precision either. Most weapons also feature large, area-of-effect mechanics, so even if you miss you?re likely to deliver some damage.

I also found that Sunset Overdrive does a pretty solid job when it comes to mission and side-mission variety. This is aided by the optional challenges that unlock as you progress, featuring timed events with a number of different goals. These challenges award cash, used to purchase cosmetic items, and OverCharge, used to purchase additional weapons and map unlocks. Challenges also feature online leaderboards to compare against friends and the rest of the world. One aspect that I really enjoyed in regards to Challenges, is that once unlocked, you can instantly teleport to any open challenge via the menu screen. Also, restarting failed challenges is a breeze, and loading is kept to a minimum, making it easy enough to retry a challenge until you get it right.

sunset_overdrive_review_chaos_squadAnother interesting concept used in Sunset Overdrive is the badge system, which grants you rewards based on how you prefer to play the game. Grinding, wall-running, using single-shot weapons, etc., will earn you experience towards those mechanics. With enough experience you?ll earn a badge, which can then be spent on skill unlocks that will power-up an ability, add a modifier, or provide some other type of bonus. You?re literally being rewarded for what you already enjoy doing, which is a smart way of tailoring particular aspects of the gameplay towards every player.

Visually, Sunset Overdrive is a cornucopia of color, something I?m sure you?re already well aware of. It certainly prides itself in its unique look, and this more than makes up for the generic mess that became Fuse. Sunset Overdrive runs smoothly, looks great, and has nary a technical hiccup to speak of. The action doesn?t slow down regardless of how busy or bombastic things get, which can honestly be pretty impressive considering the decent draw distance being displayed and the number of enemies you can engage at once. Toss in multiple explosions and other mayhem, and I think you?ll be suitably impressed with how great Sunset Overdrive looks without sacrificing technical prowess.

sunset_overdrive_review_train_shockerAnother feather in Sunset Overdrive?s cap comes from its unique multiplayer mode, Chaos Squad. Accessible from various points on the single-player map, Chaos Squad will pair you up with multiple players, as you complete a series of challenges working with and against each other. These challenges can be comprised of a number of rounds, with a host of different objectives from one challenge to the next. I?m actually looking forward to playing a lot more of this once the game officially launches, as it provides just the right amount of post-story content to keep you entertained well past the conclusion of the campaign.

I certainly found myself very impressed by Sunset Overdrive, and I think you will be too. Outside of a sluggish opening hour, wherein you might struggle a bit getting used to the controls and traveling mechanics, this is one hell of a console exclusive. It?s bright, loud, and occasionally funny, but more importantly Sunset Overdrive is a ton of fun to play.

Grade: A-