Ever sine GTA hit the market we've been looking for open ended style gameplay in genres we never seemed to want it. GTA 3 revolutionized the industry and changed the way people and developers thought about games. One such developer is Eidos who is building Total Overdose - a game which works on the humor of GTA built around a somewhat open ended structure. We went hands on with a recent build to see what the fuss was about and came away impressed.
Total Overdose tells the story of a group of Mexican criminals, who have just been released from Jail and want revenge. In terms of the story the typical Mexican stereotypes exist with the accent, attitude, looks and style all featuring a very much 'south of the border' feel. Set in 1989 in the Mayan Jungle, Overdose puts you in the role of DEA officer, set about to stop overdoses happening and stop the prolific South American drug trade. It's a bit cliche but once the guns start firing you forget all about why you're there.
The game is played from a third person perspective and this seems to work quite well. For the first few minutes we tried without the auto aim aid but that seemed to be nigh on impossible. However once you use the auto aim it does not make the game overly easy. You can shoot people quick but to get the shots which count, i.e. headshots, you have to use some skill. The reward is new weapons and powerups so it is very much worth it. The game also slows right down during the sequence to show a super slow-mo of the kill.
As you progress through the game you discover new moves and pick up powerups which are again based on stereotypes. Such as the guitar one in which the character carries two guitar cases loaded with ammunition and shoots the place up, or the very cool powerup where you spin around in a very cinematic style destroying everything in a 360 degree radius. These powerups become essential as the game moves on as it will get quite hard. One of the other moves you can do which we discovered by accident is run and flip off walls to avoid fire. This is something that really stands out about the game as the developers have done the animation extremely well and it is actually a useful tool rather than being tacked on to make the game look better.
The level we played is set on a farm and is early in the piece. We were tasked with destroying a silo, killing some enemies and getting out of there. The game gives you all the objectives at once hence the somewhat open ended feel to the story but you will find yourself playing through the objectives in a linear fashion most of the time. The level does display some things you can do in the game to mix it up. First of all one of the main aids you have in your arsenal is the ability to slow down time as well as rewind time when you eventually die. This works quite well and acts as a "lives" system due to the fact you have a limited number. You can also extend combo moves (ala Tony Hawk) with this system and apparently it is possible to go through an entire level in one big combo.
The other thing this level shows off is the detail of the game and the many different ways you can go about your task. Basically any car you can see, you can take control of to move around quicker or use as cover and almost anything on the level can be destroyed. The visuals use a cartoon style but are not cel shaded and overall it suits the style of the game well, showing that it's not meant to be a serious game, rather just a fun title to while away the hours.
Although we haven't seen too much of Total Overdose, what we have seen makes it look like a game to grab during the lull before the November rush. Guns, babes, funny accents and humor makes Total Overdose what it is. It's set to ship September.