Open ended gaming is the big thing these days but if it's not done absolutely right it can be pointless and detract from the game as opposed to enhancing it. Of course the best demonstration of open ended gaming right now is GTA and every publisher is trying to put together a hit on the same level while introducing new elements or game types to the system. Total Overdose is somewhat like this. It's not GTA4 nor is it trying to be but it does borrow some elements from the game to create one of the cheesiest and most playable games of the year so far, it's just not as fully realized as it could have been.
Total Overdose tells the story of a young undercover drug agent on the verge of cracking one of the biggest syndicates in Mexico when an unfortunate accident befalls him. Being so close, leaving the gang is no option so he enlists his crazy criminal brother to fill in for him in exchange for his freedom. The thing is his brother doesn't do anything by the book and things get a little crazy. You take control of the brother and his character as well as the tasks and humor of the storyline is what makes this an above average game.
The character is controlled from the third person standpoint and as a first impression, the game does feel very much like Grand Theft Auto but there are a few changes such as the fact the world is not open ended entirely and has set missions to complete in each level. However how you complete these missions is somewhat left up to you as you are dropped into a sandbox world with a few objectives such as gather evidence or destroying a silo and then it's up to you to figure out how to do it.
You also, at some point in the game, take control of vehicles and drive around a fictional Mexican city to find missions so it would be fair to say there are some elements borrowed from other games, such as shoot dodge, auto aim and amongst others. The thing which keeps the game from getting boring is the variety of moves the main character can do such as running up a wall, shoot dodging and being rewarded for skill shots or spicy moves. These rewards are powerups such as machine gun guitar cases, slow mo 360 degree destruction and others. You also can earn rewinds which allows you to rewind time if you die. Combinations in the style of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater also give you bonuses and give you a reason to perform stylish, quick skills.
The game world is divided into eighteen sectors and some sectors do require a load time. However there is a load of variety on offer. Some missions are set in the city, others on a farm and others in the middle of no where offering different challenges. You can also enter some buildings in the city but it's not as fully realized compared to some other games in that you can't do side missions of your own in these buildings. There is also a variety of cars and vehicles to take control of such as tractors, taxis, old style farm utes and many others. You can actually use these as projectiles by diving out of them before hitting something like am oil tanker to cause an explosion. One of the best features is the taxi option where you can be driven to destinations as opposed to having to find them yourself. Considering the size and complexity of the games map this can reduce frustration a great deal when trying to find the next mission.
The visuals of the game are a bit mixed with impressive character models but the city and other objects seem a little lackluster. However the settings and colours used suit the style and character of the game very well and overall it has some moderate graphics that convey the game well. The sound effects are much better with cheesy Mexican accents and soundtrack being employed.
Total Overdose is a game that probably has chosen the best time for release. It's a game that can be picked up and played during a lull period and enjoyed which makes it great to tie you over if you need a new experience until the big hits start arriving next month.