E3 2014: Sunset Overdrive Preview

E3 2014: Sunset Overdrive Preview

Embrace the ridiculous and prepare yourself for the Awesomepocalypse! Insomniac Games surprised everyone at E3 2013 with their announcement of Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive. A stalwart of the Sony stable, Insomniac brought the PlayStation brand some of its best games with franchises like Spyro, Ratchet & Clank and Resistance to name a few. Now they’ve come over to the dark side, or Microsoft, and they brought with them one of the most hilarious and over the top games I’ve seen to date.

Set in the fictional metropolis of Sunset City in the year 2027 the story is based around the disastrous release of an energy drink called Overcharge Delerium XT. The company that produces the beverage, Fizzco, is having a massive pre-release party in Sunset City 3 weeks before Overcharge is released to the masses around the world. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the energy drink has been rushed to market and not properly tested or approved, there are certain side effects one might consider to be unfavourable… like turning into psychotic mutants. Following this mutant outbreak the city is quarantined and when Fizzco comes in to cover up their mess it’s up to you to take back the city and expose their wrongdoings.

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Speaking with creative director Marcus Smith at the E3 conference this year he gave me the inside scoop on the ideas and inspiration behind the game. For the bright, stylized backgrounds and characters Marcus referred to the work of Jamie Hewlett best known for Tank Girl and bringing the Gorillaz to life. For gameplay they kept three themes in mind as the springboard for everything that is Sunset Overdrive.

Theme 1 – Fun in the End Times

Alright so it’s that Awesomepocalypse I was talking about earlier. There’s Overdrive crazed mutants on the loose. That doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun right? You’ve got a deserted city landscape as your playground and the slick parkour inspired traversal means that there are a lot of killer places to run, jump, slide and zipline your way around. Not only that you have the most absurd arsenal of weaponry this side of Dead Rising at your disposal. Want to shoot green dragons at your enemies? How about old wax records or a teddy bear strapped to a wad of dynamite? Why not says Insomniac! Just to sweeten the pot a bit more you can also build up a style metre that will allow you to unleash AMP attacks such as Twist of Fate, a nuclear level explosion, or elemental based attacks with tornado or lightning damage. The riskier you play the faster your style metre builds but you’ve got to maintain your pace because it starts draining quickly.

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Theme 2 – Be Who You Want to Be

“Let the player decide their style” said Marcus, “Why would I want to decide that for them?” Sunset Overdrive has a full character creation suite allowing players to choose anything and everything from clothes to hair to tattoos and body type.

Theme 3 – Major McF*ck Ups

You read that right. A cutthroat capitalist society where the only thing that matters is the almighty dollar leads to one of the most devastating disasters known to man. Why get FDA approval when you can pay a few guys off and do whatever you like? Comparing Fizzco to some of the biggest food manufacturers in the real world Marcus noted that as farfetched as Sunset Overdrive is there is some element of reality in this inspiration.

There is a single player campaign but for purposes of a hands-on I was treated to Chaos Squad, an eight-player co-op mode where players take on various missions such as killing a mini boss, loot scramble, collecting traversal icons and Night Defense which has you holding off waves of OD’d (the pet name for mutants).

Once I’d switched my aim to inverted (don’t judge me) I was let loose on to the map for a Night Defense mission. The first thing I noticed, which admittedly surprised me, is how easy and fluid it was to navigate the terrain. A simple press of the X button and I was zipping, sliding and wall-running to my heart’s content. Aiming took a little getting used to and will require some practice to master mostly because you’re always on the move and your targets are too. This game is fast and will require some fast reflexes. I immediately knew that standing around was not an option and shooting on the run was the only way to go. Changing weapons on the fly was effortless requiring players to hold down the LB1 button to bring up a HUD. On the whole all the mechanics of the game felt natural and intuitive which is a feat considering its pace.

My team fought three waves of enemies, each being more powerful than the last, and came out victorious, but just barely. While the game might be easy to pick up it will undoubtedly be difficult to master. If players want to unleash their devastating AMP attacks, like that BOOM mushroom cloud in the trailers, they have to play hard and play risky so they can be rewarded for their insanity.

My time with Sunset Overdrive was far too short for my liking but if I took away anything it was the knowledge that Insomniac looks to be doing everything right with this game. Fast paced, frenetic and most importantly fun, Sunset Overdrive is slated to hit shelves October 28

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The Worst of the E3 2014 Conferences

The Worst of the E3 2014 Conferences

OK, so, I may not be in Los Angeles for this year’s E3, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to talk about what’s happening at the press conferences anyway. It’s the digital age, after all, and the miracle of streaming video allows all of us to enjoy the game announcements, scripted demonstrations, and awkward moments that make E3 worth paying attention to in the first place. Without further preamble, here’s a rundown of my least favourite parts of the E3 2014 conferences.

1. Known Quantities

As great as it was to see more gameplay footage from titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Assassin’s Creed: Unity, we all knew that these games were getting ready for release before E3 2014 started. One of my favourite parts of the E3 conferences is the excitement that comes with debuting a previously unheard of title in (a definitely unnecessarily) grand fashion. Aside from a handful of exceptions, most of this year’s Expo was dominated by new information regarding known quantities. That’s fine, but I was hoping for a few surprises.

2. Appealing to the Fans

A common refrain, from Microsoft to Electronic Arts, was “we asked the fans what they wanted.” Rather than adhere to an internal vision, many of the industry’s biggest publishers and developers instead sought to defer to customers. While this self-effacing tact was probably to be expected from Microsoft—still looking to come back from the somewhat rough Xbox One launch—it was more disturbing to hear developers making this claim. Bioware, perhaps gunshy after being the target of so much fan backlash in recent years, seems to have lost a degree of confidence in its own artistic goals. The new Mass Effect was revealed not so much as a clearly defined concept, but rather as a work-in-progress that will be designed in accordance with consumer desires. The ultimate game may be better polished or at least closer to what the developer’s most ardent fans want to play, but I’d rather see studios working to fulfill their own unique visions.

3. Too Many Concept Announcements

The EA conference was filled to the brim with videogame “reveals” that were actually little more than the discussion of design concepts. Mirror’s Edge 2 and the new Star Wars: Battlefront and Mass Effect games were given “reveals” that were actually little more than acknowledgements that these titles actually exist. Sony’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End reveal was similarly disappointing, providing a minute of footage, a bit of Nolan North voiceover, and a title card. Even Nintendo, despite devoting the bulk of its pre-recorded conference to gameplay demos, teased a new Zelda without showing much more than a extremely pretty) screenshot and brief cinematic. As much as I enjoy seeing new game announcements, it seems a shame to spend time that could have gone to underexposed titles on what amounts to little more than featuring concepts.

4. Third-Party Exclusives

Recent years have seen third-party exclusives becoming less prominent, likely as a side-effect of Sony and Microsoft allocating more money to hardware development than to buying up rights. This E3 made it clear that this trend is coming to a close, though. Third-party titles like Scalebound and Sunset Overdrive will be exclusive to Xbox One while Dark Souls-successor Bloodborne can only be played by PlayStation 4 owners. Even Nintendo has bought Bayonetta 2, the sequel to a game that was available on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Despite understanding the logic behind third-party exclusives—a few good exclusive games will sell consoles—it doesn’t mean that binding interesting titles to a single system is a practice I like seeing more of.

5. Waiting for 2015

It’s good to know that there are a lot of interesting-looking game releases in the pipeline, but this E3 really drove home the point that 2014 won’t be the year that sees the Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One come into their own. Mario Maker, The Order: 1886, Bloodborne, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Batman: Arkham Knight, Dying Light, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and many, many other promising games have been either delayed into 2015 or given release dates next year. There will still be good titles between now and the new year, but E3 confirmed that the majority of the most interesting games are still a ways out.

 

New Sunset Overdrive Trailer

New Sunset Overdrive Trailer

Insomniac Games have been showing off a lot of their upcoming Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive. Today, they did that again with another gameplay trailer.

It started with CEO and Co-Founder of Insomniac, Ted Price, and was carried by the game’s director Drew Murray along with the creative director Marcus Smith. They showed off some of the features of the game.

Those features include new weapons, revival animations, enemies and a basic plot.  The story takes place in 2027 and revolves around a company releasing an energy drink that turns people into monsters. So it’s up to your character to save the city.

There was also a lot of gameplay shown. The developers want gamers to have a free flow game style. There won’t be a lot of cover either.

You can check out the latest on Sunset Overdrive here.

First Sunset Overdrive Gameplay Revealed

First Sunset Overdrive Gameplay Revealed

Nearly a year after it was announced at Microsoft’s E3 presentation, Sunset Overdrive finally has it’s first gameplay trailer.

The game takes place during a mutant outbreak that occurs in Sunset City after an energy drink corporation releases a new drink.

Players will be able to run quickly though the city via parkour. The more momentum a player has, the faster they’ll be able to move around. Getting to higher ground over enemies will give a tactical advantage to the player.

Like any Insomniac game, Sunset Overdrive features a large selection of crazy weapons. Guns like the T-N-Teddy that shoots teddybears that have explosives attached to them, and even a gun that shoots mini helicopters that have have machine guns.

Also featured is a perk system called Amps. These can give the player many different abilities such as creating tornadoes with their melee weapons, and having a chance that your bullets will turn into nuclear bombs upon impact.

Sunset Overdrive will launch in November of this year exclusively on Xbox One.