Sunset Overdrive Hands On Impressions

Sunset Overdrive is all about movement: Stay still, and you die. The game combines rail grinds, wall running, hanging grinds, long jumps and more to traverse the world of Sunset City in style. Combine this with wacky guns, bright color scheme, and a narrative style that doesn’t take itself too seriously; you’re left with a uniquely chaotic experience that will completely overload your senses.

And it’s awesome.

Our demo started with 8 of us teaming up in the game’s Chaos Squad multiplayer, and chaos doesn’t even begin to describe the action that plays out on screen. Chaos Squad takes place in the same open environment as the single player game, and the more chaos you acquire, the harder the end waves will become.

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Explosions, and big ones, are a constant occurrence in Sunset City as you embrace the Awesomepocolypse.

I started off my gameplay just trying to get a feel for the controls. X is used to grind, press it again and you can switch between a normal grind and a hanging grind. A is to Jump, RT to shoot and so on. The controls seemed really fluid – the mapping really lent itself well to learning the game. There were no wacky button combos to do certain things, which was nice to see.

As far as visually, I couldn’t really tell what kind of resolution the game is running, but I can tell you the frames were fluid. I never noticed any lag or slowdown, especially when things became even more chaotic in front of me. Another nice thing to not-see was screen tearing. There was none. In fact, I’d venture to say that the stylized shooter was possibly the smoothest running game I got my hands on all week.

I mentioned that the game doesn’t take itself too seriously? I meant it. As evidenced by what I still think is the quote of E3 (“Of course you can – it’s a f***ing video game!” UPDATE: The LA Times headline might take the cake now, though), There were moments where I would grind into the edge of the map and bump into one of those pesky “invisible walls…only this game the wall was quite visible. Once you hit it, the area would flash a static blue and in stylized block letters the game would make you all too aware that it was an invisible wall you just met.

As far as the gun play goes, you do simply feel more powerful and awesome when you are moving. Grinding along powerlines and building edges, wall running, jumping, somersaulting – not once did I feel at a disadvantage by staying so active. In fact, it was when I was on the ground that I felt the most vulnerable. The world seems to slow down around you when your character is caught flatfooted. Thankfully, the world of instant traversal is only a few jumps away. Just don’t let the OD’d get to you first!

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I think at one point we had a couple of these on the map at once. Propane launchers and Dragon Pistols FTW!

The weapons you get go from standard to downright wacky. From a simple assault rifle to a gun that fires LP’s, Sunset Overdrive will boast some of the most unique takes on weaponry in video games today. During an extended grind around the battlefield, I found myself switching from my Dragon Pistol (which fires fireworks) to a shotgun, to a massive Boomstick to take on a Herker that just dropped nearby. All while switching from a normal grind to a hanging grind. And changing directions. While wall running. You get the idea.

All in all, the chaotic fun that was Sunset Overdrive was over too quickly (which the LONG line of people behind us were glad to see – no one likes lines at E3) and I was left yearning for more. In fact, if I was only there to cover Microsoft, I would have likely got right back in line for another go at the game. It was an absolute blast, and refreshing. In a world where we see many annualized, gritty realistic shooters, it was nice to see something so different and unique that it makes owning a Xbox One worth it. It is also to see a game studio such as Insomniac get back to their roots – making witty, funny and wholly unique games that really make the rest of the industry take a step back and reflect on the sheer amount of creativity wrought by the developers in Burbank.

Look for Sunset Overdrive this fall, only on Xbox One.

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