GC 2008: House of the Dead Overkill Impressions

House of the Dead meets Grindhouse thanks to London-based developer Headstrong Games. We took a first look at Leipzig GC.

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The House of the Dead games have long been a staple of Sega's internal Japanese studio. However, the developer has finally given over the reins of one its most famous franchises, and the UK's Headstong games has been tasked with taking it in a new direction. The team has decided to cross the shooter with '60s Grindhouse cinema, making a gritty but trashy homage to both the game and the movies.

The story centers on Agent G's first mission out of college. He's joined by a new character called Detective Washington, and the entire story will be playable in single-player or co-op. While it's still an on-rails shooter, the big new change comes in the way that you can control the camera angle. By moving the target reticle to the edges of the screen, you can move the camera another 30 degrees. Sega says that this will come into play when finding hidden items, as well as killing certain zombies.

The level that we saw was set at The Carnival of Fun, an all-American fairground riddled with hicks-turned-zombies. You use the Wii Remote to aim at the screen, with the trigger used for firing and a quick shake for reload. You can obviously also use the Wii Zapper, but with 1 and 2 used for weapons, as well as + and - for special items, it could become a little convoluted. You'll be able to carry two weapons in Overkill, and in the demo we saw, both a machine gun and a magnum were featured.

As the Sega rep moved through the Carnival level, we got to see some of the new additions that Headstrong has added to the game. There are power-ups, such as Slo-Mofo, which slows down time for a few seconds, while the new damage model means you can shoot off arms and limbs. There are also combo bonuses for the more accurate you are, with the bonus dropping out as soon as you miss a zombie. You'll also be able to collect upgrades for weapons to increase damage and accuracy, although we didn't get to see them in action. The demo ended with a freakish boss character who was about 15 feet tall and had a baby's head growing out of his stomach.

The new visual style seems to suit the game perfectly, with all the degraded film effects that were resurrected in Tarantino's Grindhouse. The game is set for release in the first quarter of 2009, so expect more information on the game in the coming months.

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