Sunset Overdrive is the kind of first person shooter that is rarely made anymore: a combination of distinct visual style, esoteric gameplay and bombastic plot that seems like a throwback to the SNES days when Zombies Ate My Neighbors was a cult hit. Insomniac Games looks to make a splash with their first Xbox One game this fall after spending the last generation as a PlayStation exclusive developer and the initial outlook is pretty exciting.
It’s hard to describe all of the disparate influences and gameplay elements drawn together into the game, but an interesting way to look at it is a fusion of Team Fortress 2 and Jet Set Radio with a touch of Serious Sam thrown in for good measure. The PAX Prime 2014 demo of Sunset Overdrive had a team focused wave defense mode to try that had a vibrant neon colour palette and grinding/hook sliding paths for fast travel combined with outlandish weapons such as a harpoon gun and exploding teddy bears…! The degree of difficulty for an enemy kill combines with linked events (such as multi kills) and situational modifiers to increase scores, which rewards rapid movement by jumping and grinding around the map to build speed and increase overall availability of targets to fire upon. There’s a few spots where grinding end points drop players into concentrated clumps, but generally there’s more than enough room in the level for a full compliment of 8 players to constantly be engaged.
Gamers who have tried with Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare will find some familiar touches here, but the speed and sheer volume of overlapping events takes Sunset Overdrive to a more frenetic pace. There’s a lot to like in this early version, which promises to deliver an exciting and original entry to a shooter genre in need of a revitalization when it releases this fall.