Is Sunset Overdrive's Subversive Façade Merely Skin Deep?


Is Sunset Overdrive's Subversive Façade Merely Skin Deep?
That’s an honest question

I can't quite make my mind up...

On the one hand I see a sorely needed injection of fun and frivolity. It stands defiantly at odds to the grim grain of Call of Honour: Gears of Battlefield Counter Rainbow. Then again, I see not merely the subtly faded footprints of recognizable gaming mechanics, but their wholesale theft. Franchise defining gameplay has been wrenched from their original IPs and firmly welded onto the tecni-colour homunculus that is Insomniacrsquo;s Sunset Overdrive.

To mix things up, letrsbegin with a little optimism, shall we?

If I were to refer to Sunset Overdrive as dynamic, I'd be doing it a disservice. It is a title dedicated to the twin pillars of agility...and goop. More on the latter in a minute, but as this recent gameplay from RTX 2014 shows, keeping things on ground level, circle-strafing and herding, is the lamest way to comport yourself in Insomniac's long awaited return to madcap form.

Vibrant, empowering level design not only promotes, but almost necessitates accelerated, acrobatic awesomeness. Whether bouncing off springboard canopies, grinding rails like a free-running Magneto or horizontally hopscotching up a neon green precipice, Sunset Overdrive is at its most visually resplendent amid the lofty velocities of top gear.

Additionally, there is a tangible incentive to make with the prancing. Sunset city is conveniently, albeit inexplicably, front loaded with gaming's most volatile instance of civil infrastructure.
Leap upon a dustbin (?) -Watch as the concussive mushroom erupts.
Pop a bunch of helium balloons - Watch amber flames lash outward.
Hell, tap an amusement park carriage - Watch it rocket gleefully off into the sunset, a playful ballistic missile for the populous of goop to contend with/become explodianated by.

Agility is no mere means of transportation in Sunset Overdrive. It's the defining form of aggression. Or goop making. The whole experience is primed for the spectacular, be it lancing detonations, blossoms of fiery wrath, geysers of viscous goop, and in one specific instance, the unleashing of a horde of automated, pickaxe wielding garden gnomes.

To Sunset Overdrive's eternal credit, it looks like nothing else.

Unfortunately, I worry its play style will feels considerably more familiar.

Strip away the cartoonish design, quirky respawn animations, puntastic weapon monikers and symphony of primary colours and I fail to see anything new here, certainly nothing that wasnt in Bioshock: Infinite, or indeed inFamous before it.

Players will grind and jump and wallrun. The animations are different, sure, but that play itself is something The Prince of Persia and I mastered a generation ago. Elsewhere there's a plethora of hilarious weaponry -all of which are either a machine gun (AK-FU, High Fidelity, Roman Candle) or a grenade launchers (TnTeddy, One Handed Dragon, Propain Launcher.) There is melee in place. But to deem it a 'melee system'would be perhaps, too generous. There's ample cosmetic variance to your close rang whacker. But essentially, push 'B'to goop the goopoids.

To my eyes then, this is infamous.
A colourful infamous.
An energetic infamous.
A creative infamous.
Hell, a much, much better infamous.
But something I've already played.

And maybe that's okay. Mechanically, Sucker Punch did solid work designing their electrical toyshop. In fact the bulk of criticism levelled at infamous is that shocking lack of, well, vibrancy. Sunset Overdrive has vibrancy coming out the yazoo!

Additionally, this quest for spectacle that Sunset Overdrive so proudly kicks front and centre may be its own reward -Who can goop the most goopoids in one shot, one grind, one trap etc. The satisfying, onomatopoeic thrill of gooping may well be enough in and of itself!

All I'm saying, is that I worry that from a UI perspective, the dexterity involved in the gooping of said goopoids may ring a little too familiar, arguably to the game's detriment, especially one billing itself as so openly subversive. Either way, we'll find out on October 28th when Sunset Overdrive Launches exclusively for Xbox One.

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