As it currently stands, the Wii is not a console for the average gamer.
Up until now, other than half a dozen excellent first party games, the library of games on Nintendos' Wii has been a combination of lacklustre ports and titles that treat the wiimote as a gimmick rather than a tool to improve gameplay. This has lead to a rather large proportion of Wii owners packing their consoles away in the closet out of boredom.
Ironically, it seems to have fallen on Sega to sate the needs of the Nintendo gamer.
House of the Dead: Overkill is an on-rails shooter that has you churning through waves of zombies and mutants in an attempt to rack up as high a score as possible. It's a genre that hasn't really changed in the last 25+ years, nor should it have to. It's a simple premise - one that works well in the arcades - and really it's the small differences that separate the great games in the genre from the bad.
Inspired from watching the film Planet Terror, developers Headstrong Games have used the exploitation films of the 70's as the theme of the game. This means that the dialogue is coarse, characters revel in clichés, and the plot develops into something that will have you laughing in total disgust.
Agent G and Isaac Washington are out to put an end to the experiments of Papa Ceaser which have left a small town in Louisiana overrun with mutant hillbillies and psychic cripples. It's a straight forward and well told tale, with some genuinely interesting characters that you will desire to see more of.
As mentioned earlier, the gameplay is fairly standard to the genre but because of the tone of the game and the use of zombies as foes it leads to a greater variation in how you can handle each set piece of action. For a game where you have unlimited ammo, spray and pray tactics aren't going to get you through. Larger zombies can take more damage, smaller ones attack faster and reload times make you a sitting duck. This leads to situations where you need to make quick decisions if you are to avoid damage.
Headshots kill in a single blast if you manage to hit the sweet spot, but the zombie stagger makes that harder to achieve that it sounds. Limbs can be blown off to limit attacks or reduce their movement speeds, but that increases your field of fire and slows you down.
With ample health packs around, even if you aren't the best shot your first play-through with be a relatively easy one. You can continue from wherever you died for the price of half your score. After you complete the game, a directors cut will become unlocked, and this offers alternate routes through the same locations with a higher difficulty level. If your playing solely to complete the chapters on offer, you are going to be disappointed. Seven levels at fifteen to twenty minutes long each isn't enough game time for the asking price if that's all you plan on taking from it.
If, however, you hail from a time before achievements became the de-facto method of measuring skill, the game is more than enough to play simply with the intention of racking up a high a score.
Connecting shots and avoiding damage is what builds your combo meter and keeps it going, and it's also what makes the game challenging and exciting. Being able to choose which level you play after you have completed it allows you to just jump in and blast away at the high score. There is some disappointment relating to this as there is no online leader boards to compare scores on. It is a minor issue but it does seem like an odd choice not to include one.
On the visual and audio side of things, there is nothing here that is going to blow you away. A film grain look is applied to everything - from the opening titles to the final cinematic - and head shots have a satisfying B-grade feel to them. The game can stall for half a second at some points, which isn't a major issue other than when it can ruin a combo. Other than the neat little touches that you will notice, the graphics are pretty standard fare.
Special mention must be made about the AMS Hand Cannon adaptors that you can get with House of the Dead: Overkill. They are fantastic and the best gun adapter you can get for the Wii. Play the game with what you prefer, but they are definitely worth tracking down.
Over all, it is one of the more enjoyable Wii games out there, certainly the most adult in its humour, and I didn't feel like an idiot playing it. I recommend it to anyone who has ever enjoyed an on-rails shooter.