About a third of the way in through the Carnival Of Fun stage in The House of the Dead Overkill, Bradley Crooks from Headstrong Games decimated a severed arm stuck in a cotton candy machine. It exploded in a sweet, sickly mess, adding to the heavy amount of gore we'd already seen in the Wii "light gun" shooter. It's also potentially the first game to feature a "live birth" on the Wii, so don't expect an E rating (or a German release).
The developer, formerly known as Kuju London and responsible for both Battalion Wars releases, is upping the shock factor for the Western audience targeted House of the Dead. The game has blood mapping, giving bullet wounds plenty of flow, spatters on clothes and the environment. And the bosses, at least the one we saw, veer from the fantastical to the... fucking creepy.
The team at Headstrong is going for that grindhouse look with Overkill. That aesthetic isn't limited to the cheap film treatment — overexposed lighting, green-washed blacks, speckles, dust and scratches — it's also getting some "really good intentionally bad dialogue", according to Crooks. Suffer like G did?
Maybe, because Agent G is in the game, a prequel to the Sega AM1 developed series of arcade light gun shooters. He'll star with Detective Washington as a fresh from the AMS academy graduate who ultimately makes a career for himself shooting thousands of the undead.
That shooting can all be done with the Wii Remote, with flicks of the wrist for reloading and pans to the left and right with the remote's targeting reticule. It's still an on-rails shooter, but you'll be able to pan about 45 degrees beyond your normal view — not unlike the Wii's other popular zombie shooter, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.
In Overkill, you'll have more than just one gun to shoot all those zombies with. We saw a sub machine gun and magnum pistol, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. You'll be able to switch between them to mix up your strategy. With "more zombies on screen than you can shoot in a second", The House of the Dead Overkill ratchets up the tactics. You can slow fast moving zombies down by shooting out their knees, reducing them to a crawl.
Crooks also confirmed some gesture based attacks in the final version, making sense of the grenade power up he passed on during our demo.
Overkill has at least one other power up in the "mofo slo-mo" — name probably internal/tentative — that further overexposes the look of the game, slowing the action down to about half-speed. This makes it that much easier to boost your combo count and pull of brain evacuating headshots. It's cool.
Based on what we saw, including the disturbing glance at the level's boss, we're certainly excited about what Sega and Headstrong are doing with the series. It's certainly an interesting deviation, one dripping with rancid guts and style.
And wait until you see the press pack....