For parts of four decades, Sega has arguably been the most consistent arcade publisher - spanning genre, technology, and time to delivery, hit after hit. One of the key parts of this legacy has been light gun games, perhaps most notably the Virtua Cop series. However, Virtua Cop's contemporary, The House of the Dead, and its progeny have had a larger impact on the home console market. Since the original's port late in the Saturn's cycle, the series has made its undead mark on the Dreamcast, Xbox, Wii, and now PlayStation 3.
It's hard to imagine someone owning the Move and not having Overkill, but if that person exists, it's a problem that needs to be solved.
The newest home release, The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut, is an upgrade of 2009's Wii original, which was unique in that it was the first direct-to-console game in the series and was developed by Headstrong Games instead of one of Sega's internal developers. It followed the story of government agent G and police detective Isaac Washington as they attempted to track down an evil scientist by the name of Papa Caesar. The story and presentation would not be out of place alongside Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez' Grindhouse double feature.
The Extended Cut adds two playable characters, Varla Guns and Candy Stryper, whose profession should be quite apparent from their names, as well as two additional chapters featuring the vindictive vixens. These new levels are fully fleshed-out and integrate well into the overall flow and story of the game, taking what was already a substantial light gun game in terms of length and extending it significantly.
Length is perhaps the greatest differentiator between The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut and its arcade brethren. Each chapter seemed roughly as long as something like Namco's Deadstorm Pirates, which was also released on PlayStation 3 as part of the Time Crisis: Razing Storm collection. This certainly alters the scoring aspect inherent to the genre in that each chapter can really be optimized, as opposed to worrying solely about the end-game score. Add to this the Director's Cut, which is unlocked upon completion of the base game, three mini games, and additional modes, and the sum is quite a value package.
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Somewhat surprising for an upgrade of a Wii game is that the game's visuals are very nice. This is the result of a couple of distinct advantages. First and most obvious is that the game's resolution has been improved to a native 720p. While one may suspect that this would simply highlight flaws in textures that were originally designed for 480p, this really isn't the case. And that's where the other advantage comes in. The 1970s style used to support the story also adds an intentional level of grain to the video that really brings it all together. In short, if it were not widely known that Overkill was a Wii game, it would not be obvious from the Extended Cut.
Additional improvements made possible by the platform upgrade include more accurate aiming, thanks to PlayStation Move, and 3D support. Keep in mind that the original Overkill used only the basic Wii remote and not Wii Motion Plus. Thus, the move to Move is a tremendous improvement in terms of accurately capturing movement. It also opens the door for the Sharpshooter attachment, which really adds another level to the experience. As for the 3D, both stereoscopic and anaglyph methods are supported. For the layman, that's you-need-a-fancy-tv and you-need-only-blue-and-red-glasses modes. This makes it Sega's first 3D light gun game since 1988's Missile Defense 3D on the Master System.
When looked at as either an original release for those who missed the Wii installment or as an update for those who didn't, The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut provides a lengthy and enjoyable experience, especially considering the $39.99 M.S.R.P. Headstrong Games has done right by one of Sega's best known arcade franchises while also bridging the gap to a direct-to-console audience. It's hard to imagine someone owning the Move and not having both Time Crisis: Razing Storm and Overkill - Extended Cut, but if that person exists, it's a problem that needs to be solved. Aiming is the only useful application of motion controls, and this genre really highlights that better than any other. So pick up The House of the Dead: Overkill - Extended Cut and then laugh at those who chose poorly and wound up with Rise of Nightmares on Kinect instead. There's a reason Sega didn't put the House of the Dead name on that one.