Sunset Overdrive: Played at E3 2014

By Steven Wong, Jun 10, 2014 12:00pm PDT

A tainted power drink has turned the residents of Sunset City into crazed killer mutants. While some might view that a bad news, not the crew of Sunset Overdrive, who see it as a reason to step up and get blasting. I got chance to try out running and gunning skills to clear out an infested amusement park.

In Sunset Overdrive, you control a cartoon proportioned character that can run, jump, and grind across a variety of surfaces. Apparently, these guys don't need an energy drink to get wired up. There's plenty of wall-running and leaping across rooftops, but the majority of time will be spent grinding over wires and rails to dodge mutants trying to mob you. The key to the game is to keep moving and dodging, because moving and shooting earns style points that will help with the final score. However, a double-jump feature is oddly missing, which took some getting used to when trying to get up onto rooftops.

In exploring the amusement park and upsetting mutants along the way, I stumbled on a mini boss character named Hurker. It was an oversized version of the bulbous pink mutants trying to swarm me, except with a bulldozer for an arm. It threw boulders at me and generally did its best to pound my face into the ground, and was pretty successful at it. It's tough to keep track of your environment when you have a 10 foot monster chasing you, and I often found myself running into fences and other objects while trying to escape.

Players have a series of weapons at their disposal, which are pieced together using superpowered everyday items. The Dragon Gun, for an example, shoots fireworks and lights enemies on fire. Additionally, there' a gun that fires vinyl LP records that bounce off walls. A straightforward AK 47 assault rifle is tucked into the weapon wheel, in case you want something a little more vanilla... or if you run out of ammo on all your other guns. For this particular foe, I had to first use a freeze gun to ice Hurker over, then switch to a propane tank launcher. Although it could be that there was too much action going on for me to pay attention, but it was difficult for me to tell how badly the monster was damaged, and how many more propane tanks I needed to take it down. There weren't any health or ammo pickups during my playthrough (which I'm sure will be adjusted in the final game), so I had to pay special attention to how much I used up.

When Hurker finally died in an exploding pile of goop, I was tasked with riding the rails of a roller coaster ride. Towers were conveniently wrapped with explosives, so all I had to do was make my way through the mutants and detonate the towers by shooting them. You slow down when aiming your weapon, and not in a metaphysical time-bending sense. So, while aiming makes it easier to target objects, it gives the mutants an opportunity to swarm around you.

Once the towers were taken out, I then had to turn my attention to the suped up rollercoaster cars, which were also conveniently outfitted with explosives on the back. Letting go of the aim button and pushing forward on the movement stick lets the character go faster on the rails, allowing me to outrun enemies and catch up with the rollercoaster. Blowing up the two cars finishes the demo level, and a boss that looks like a big fat guy in a hockey mask and tight shorts comes out to face you. However, that fight would be left for another time.

The key to overcoming the mutant menace in Sunset Overdrive is to keep moving, know your environment, and blow up everything you can. It has a ton of frenetic, fast, action that should keep gamers on their toes when it releases on October 28th for the Xbox One.

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