You can see on first glance that Sunset Overdrive is going to be a lot of fun. The question that's piqued our interest since our first hands-on months ago is a simple one: how long that can that last? Turns out, it has an equally simple answer: quite a while.
We knew that sticky, super-sweet energy drinks are bad for your health in the long run, but the fictional Fizzco Corp has tapped into something far worse with its own distillation of unique ingredients. Any visitors to the company's launch party - and that's all of them - who have supped on the canned beverage find themselves turned into aggressive mutants via an overdose of Delirium XT. They and the city may have gone to hell, but it does mean we can quit our temporary job cleaning up at the event - which reminds us of a tacky version of Forza Horizon's - and become Sunset City's very own have-a-go hero.
What that colourful vigilante looks like is up to you. A brief customisation menu follows your successful escape from the venue, one that's not particularly complex on facial restructuring. But it does offer a small range of oddball clothing and accessories that lets you shape an identity in the game: somewhere on the spectrum between cool and stupid (leaning towards the latter, and even more heavily as you unlock increasingly bizarre outfits to combine).
So slip into something uncomfortable and show off your style, either to rampaging mutants in a huge single-player campaign or to friends and strangers in co-op mode. You'll get a chuckle in every respawn clip as your downed hero returns to the city in a variety of crazy ways.
Colourful and crazy: two words that sum up Sunset Overdrive. The cel-shaded look, always an eye-catcher, is a visual feast with its new-gen overhaul. Gameplay revolves around absurd weapons and endless grinds along ledges and over electrical lines. The experience reminds heavily of the best of Sega's offerings from the 90s, drawn from punk rock and the skate scene.
There are multiple parodies of mainstream phenomenons in the game, but even if you ignore or miss the digs, it's as much fun stringing together grinds along telephone lines, railings and gutters, then bouncing off car roofs onto higher buildings to keep building up your Style meter. Pulling off these tricks gradually earn you rewards in the form of currency, which you can spend on new weapons, clothes and various improvements.
Improvements come in the form of Amps and Overdrives, which have to be partially put together using collected ingredients such as mobile phones and sneakers. They have all sorts of effects on weapons and skills, which are assigned to an additional Style bar. The setup is quite complex, and somewhat confusing, but it does offer plenty of possibilities to adapt abilities and weapons to your preferred play style. For example, Amps can turn an extremely ineffective Vinyl-firing gun, with rapid fire but low damage, into a weapon Mr. Freeze would be proud of after installing Ice Amps.
The fictional Californian Sunset City is huge, and filled to the brim with objectives. Even after several hours we barely touched the fast travel system - and why should we? The wall runs, jumps and grinds are too much fun to skip out on. Tricks are easy to perform, and so even in frantic moments you have little problem keeping your Style combo going - only by repeating the same type of grind or keeping in the same area does your combo disappear. And of course, there's plenty to collect along the way.
There's a varied mix of chases, attack or defence missions and boss fights, and throughout there's the odd surprise to dabble with besides acrobatic tricks and shooting orgies. You'll also find small time-based challenges that have you completing tasks under a ticking clock.
These challenges come attached with a high-score table to give you incentive to replay them. But there's also another time sink in the form of co-op mode Chaos Squad. It's an eight player mode that offers an entertaining bonus where players vote on several different mission types and decide on the difficulty as well as the potential rewards. All's fair in punk and rock'n'roll and this mode really takes Sunset Overdrive over the top.
Sunset Overdrive has all the flash and dynamic of a brand-new arcade machine. It also holds close the virtues of the arcade scene in its presentation and gameplay, and is as much akin to the likes of Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi, but still has all the polish and additions expected of a modern day video game. This is just a really beautiful and fun arcade-like experience.