A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a bloody zombie shooter with semi-humorous dialog that is peppered with profanity including "f--k." Blood sprays when you shoot a zombie anywhere on the body, and the game rewards taking head shots and ones that take off a limb. Zombies are sometimes partially nude. In one cut scene, a zombie urinates on the ground. Later, he is seen passionately kissing his zombie mother.
What's it about?
Ever since the invention of the video arcade, games have been inspired by carnival shooting galleries. House of the Dead, the first-person zombie shooting game, which first made its appearance in 1996, is one of the more enduring creepfest shootouts. HOUSE OF THE DEAD: OVERKILL is the series prequel in which two foul-mouthed, crimefighting buddies blast their way through seven short levels, each with a Quentin Tarantino/Grindhouse theme. As funky music plays and bloody zombie brains spew, the team pursues a bearded thug named Papa Caesar. But Caesar is the least of their worries: giant monster bosses abound.
The game works with the Wii Remote (or with the Wii Zapper gun). Point at zombies to shoot with the \"B\" button and reload by pressing \"A.\" Shoot many zombies in a row and you're rewarded with more points for each kill, the most being during Goregasm, which scores a mammoth 1,000 points per kill. One powerup makes zombies die in slow motion. The result? Watching the red-tinged gore arc in molasses-slow detail. Additionally, there's a first aid powerup so you don't die after being slashed. While the game offers two-player co-op mode, there's no online play.
Is it any good?
There's just as much to commend this game as there is to "dis" it. For those who like horror games, shooting zombies has always been a neat distraction, and the graphics here, while never perfect, are certainly monstrous, especially in the carnival level. While the story isn't tightly constructed, it adds a fair amount of humor to keep you going. Each level, however, isn't more challenging than another. In single player mode, you almost never die (unlike some previous versions where you died often and had to begin the game from level one).
The real problem with Overkill? It's never frightening. While it's often thrilling, you never experience fear. There are attempts to shock with cut scenes featuring incest, urination, and tons of swear words. If these somehow fit well with the story, they'd be more forgivable. Yet it's undeniable that Overkill is engaging for mature players, especially when you go back to play the game in Director's Cut mode and try to beat your highscores. Yet it's gore is like cotton candy -- ephemeral and unmemorable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the zombies-meets-Tarantino aspect of the game – but only when those under 17 aren't around. Do you think the Grindhouse aspect of the game works for Overkill? Why or why not? Did any of the over the top themes make you want to stop playing the game, or did they make you want to play more? Which ones and why?
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