Genre : Action
Release Date: November 2005
"So," the PR agent said, "have you ever seen I’m Gonna Get You Sucka?"
That was what first got my attention about Total Overdose, because truly, that film is the Wayans brothers’ magnum opus. What kept my attention was the insanity that followed.
Total Overdose is a sort of demented cross between Robert Rodriguez’s Mexican Westerns, i.e. Desperado, and Max Payne, with a lot of room for improvisation, a Mexican hiphop soundtrack (featuring bands like Control Machete), and a lot of points for style. You begin the game as an agent of the DEA, Ernesto Cruz, who gets killed on a case in 1989. Years later, his son, another DEA agent, is investigating his murder when he, too, drops out of sight.
That leaves Ramiro Cruz, ex-con, to step into his twin brother’s shoes. Naturally, Ramiro’s idea of an investigation involves less questioning and research and more blatant mayhem, with lots of random gunfire and gratuitous explosions.
The general feel of Total Overdose is a sort of full-auto slapstick, like a really good, albeit black, physical comedy. It doesn’t even pretend to be original, or to take itself seriously. This is a game that rewards you, with big cartoony announcements, for finding new and innovative ways to kill people with parts of the scenery.
As Ramiro, you’re equipped with a slow-motion shootdodge, enough guns to invade Paraguay, and a fair amount of athletic prowess. You can jump, dive, drive cars, man turrets, steal motorcycles, steal enemies’ hats, and run up walls into an armless cartwheel, with both guns blazing the entire time.
The more enemies you can take out within a certain time period, the more points you’ll get. Like the recent Punisher game from THQ, Total Overdose is set up to award increasingly greater amounts of points or point multipliers for every consecutive kill, with bonuses thrown in if you’re a little creative about it. Sure, you could just shootdodge into a building and cap everyone inside, but if you steal a fuel truck, gun it towards the building, clothesline somebody with the open driver’s-side door, then leap out to safety as the truck crashes and explodes… well, that’s just better in every way.
The more special kills you pull off, the higher the score multiplier will go, and the more bonuses you’ll receive. The idea is to force you into going over-the-top
You can also dig up special attack icons from your surroundings. The Golden Gun powerup makes your next four shots instant kills, the El Mariachi weapon equips you with a pair of high-powered machine guns hidden inside guitar cases, and the Going Loco attack makes Ramiro go crazy with a pair of submachineguns, killing everything -- people, chickens, cars, buildings, whatever – in the area.
This isn’t a game that reinvents the genre or pushes back the boundaries of video games. What it is, however, is funny and challenging, with a sort of arcade sensibility that provides a lot of built-in replayability. I’ve been talking about Total Overdose for the last two weeks, and when it comes out, I think other people will be too.
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