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Sunset Overdrive Review

  • First Released Oct 28, 2014
  • Reviewed Oct 27, 2014
  • XONE

Take me down to the Sunset City where the monsters are green and the carnage is pretty.

If you're worn out on games with drab palettes and dramatic characters, then Sunset Overdrive is just the game you need to lift your spirits. It's dripping with color and upbeat personality, and its cast is filled with comical caricatures. Sure, its dialogue is vulgar and absurd, but unlike so many games that attempt to be edgy, Sunset Overdrive makes its quips feel natural rather than forced. It never takes itself too seriously, which in this case, is a good thing. It's also a blast to play thanks to it's movement system and over-the-top weapons. It's a liberating game that trades in rules and drama for freedom and pure unadulterated enjoyment, and Sunset Overdrive never pretends to be anything but an excuse to swear like a sailor, jump off of a skyscraper, and blow up a gang of monsters.

As you'd expect, an absurd game like Sunset Overdrive features an equally absurd plot. It's the end of days after the evil energy drink corporation, Fizzco, poisoned the citizens of Sunset City, turning them into violent rage beasts known as OD. On one hand, that means you need to fight your way out of the city, on the other hand, that means you get to fight your way out of the city. As a janitor that's been taken advantage of by Sunset's hedonistic jerks in the past, it's finally your turn dish out the pain, and you get to do it with an over-the-top selection of powerful and ridiculous weaponry.

Before your crusade kicks off, you create a character of your choosing using the character customization system. There's a great variety of options to choose from, but should you grow bored with your character, you're free to go back to the drawing board at any time and revise your appearance. Over the course of your journey, you team up with small factions of survivors to devise your escape plan, and along the way, you go toe to toe with hundreds of monsters, Fizzco robots, and enemy humans known as scabs. Each faction you fight alongside sticks to a theme: there are the lazy, rich, preppy kids, a scout troop, and a gang of LARPers, to name a few. Though the factions' characterizations are slightly mocking and exploitative of the groups they represent, there are also plenty of times when representatives from each group call out and mock the stereotypes that are so often applied to them, striking a respectful balance.

Make no mistake, however: Sunset Overdrive is immature on all fronts. Nearly every character swears up a storm, dropping f-bombs like it's going out of style. Thankfully, unlike many games that take this approach, their foul language feels natural and it reinforces the brash attitude that permeates the game. Largely, the voice actors behind the game's cast do a commendable job of selling their roles. You'd think that everything would be colored by a hint of doom and gloom given the situation at hand, but the survivors you meet seem to take it in stride, giving the game a lighthearted and irreverent quality that's rather uplifting.

Sunset Overdrive is one of the best looking games on the Xbox One, both on a technical and artistic level. The city itself is large, dense with buildings and artifacts, with plenty of variation in architectural style. Everything's coated in a bright, saturated coat of paint, giving the game a cartoonish quality that's easy to love. When you're in the midst of battle, sometimes with what seems like a hundred enemies, the screen fills with explosions, bursts of lightning, and occasionally bright green ooze. Despite all of the chaos on screen, the frame rate remains rock solid. Sunset Overdrive isn't meant to look realistic, but that doesn't disqualify it as a top contender for the best looking Xbox One game. It's simply beautiful to behold.

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Of course, when you're zipping across town, you're going to miss a few of the finer details, but you'll be having too much fun to care. One of Sunset Overdrive's primary delights is its mobility system, which is loose and flexible in the name of enjoyment. Nearly every object and surface is an opportunity to gain ground, which makes it easy to travel great distances with speed and grace. You can grind along most objects, including telephone lines, ledges, handrails, and the like. Cars, awnings, and exhaust ducts act as trampolines that send you skyward, allowing you to work your way up and over buildings with ease. You can also wall-run indefinitely and, eventually, dash in mid-air and run atop bodies of water.

The only downside to the emphasis on movement is that if you find yourself standing in place in the middle of combat, you're going to be punished. It's easy to become overwhelmed by dozens of enemies at once if you're fighting while stationary, and they can quickly whittle away your health. There are times when your instincts tell you to fight rather than flee, but despite your best intentions, this is rarely the right decision.

Stringing movements together not only gets you to your destination safely and quickly, but it exemplifies what Sunset Overdrive is all about. Sometimes you slightly miss your target, but that's OK, because the game's very forgiving when it comes to timing and aiming. Once you get the hang of each move, you can free-run from one end of the city to another without ever touching the ground. The more tricks you use, the more style points you earn. As you fill up your style gauge, you activate elemental and stat boosts that make you more effective in battle. These "Amps" can be applied to you or your weapons, and are purchased with collectibles that are strewn throughout Sunset City. Similar to the open world game Crackdown, you have to explore every nook and cranny of the city to find them, but you can make it easier on yourself by purchasing maps for each type of collectible.

Sunset Overdrive never pretends to be anything but an excuse to swear like a sailor, jump off of a skyscraper, and blow up a gang of monsters.

As you perform certain actions, such as grinding, using automatic weapons, and air dashing, you earn badges that can be traded in for overdrives. Overdrives are another form of upgrade, which are similar to amps, but they're earned a different way. They can be applied to your character to increase style-point generation, boost weapon strength, or grant you health augmentations. Between Amps and Overdrives, there are a seemingly endless number of ways to upgrade your character and remix their strengths. If you want to explore the full range of options, you're going to spend a lot of time gathering collectibles, and even more time generating badges to unlock the best Overdrives.

Like the movement system, Sunset Overdrive's weapons are wild and varied enough to keep you entertained well beyond the end of the main mission path. Unlocking some weapons requires an absurd amount of the game's energy drink currency to unlock, and your best bet to earn them is to tackle the large selection of side missions, or to replay old missions for better rankings. You take aim with the likes of an acid sprinkler, a bowling ball cannon, an explosive teddy bear launcher, and a gun that bombards enemies with fireworks and illusionary Chinese dragons. Sometimes it's hard to choose which weapons to bring into battle, not because you need specific equipment, but because there are so many great options to choose from.

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Unfortunately, one of the few issues with the game is its selection of mission types. For a while, it feels like all you're doing are fetch quests. Someone needs supplies and they need you to go get them. It definitely helps that moving and shooting are so fun, but you still pine for something different after the dozenth fetch quest in a row. Give it time, however, and you'll eventually discover a wide variety of challenges, including a hefty dose of traversal challenges and combat scenarios to keep you busy and beef up your resources.

There are also more than a few great boss battles that challenge your ability to act quickly and move effectively, and these are some of the best moments in the game. Just when you think you're on the verge of boredom, an over-the-top mission appears, reigniting your enthusiasm. If you've always dreamed of taking on a massive inflatable mascot, similar to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, there's a boss battle for that. Maybe you've wanted to chase a train by grinding on rails, or you have a burning desire to ride on the back of a massive dragon that's winding through a vast cityscape. It's not that there's no fun to be had in Sunset Overdrive's typical missions, but the imaginative and surprising boss fights provide an enjoyable and taxing challenge.

You can freely replay any mission at a moment's notice, but eventually you'll want to jump online and screw around Sunset City with your friends. Hop into the Chaos Squad booths around the map, and you and a team of seven other warriors can tackle horde-like throngs of enemies, defend outposts, and put your traversal skills to the test. Sunset Overdrive emphasizes cooperation, but team members are awarded for their individual performance. Throughout the course of the game, you fight alongside computer-controlled warriors, but they're mostly useless fodder. In Chaos Squad, you're working with other tricked out players that are capable of zipping to-and-fro with a cache of arms at the ready. It feels like you're part of a stylish, amoral Justice League. Unfortunately, the difficulty of co-up doesn't scale based on the number of players in your party. With fewer than eight people, some Chaos Squad challenges are simply too hard; with fewer than four, you're almost always asking for trouble.

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Insomniac Games has crafted an excellent game in Sunset Overdrive. It's not without a few niggling issues, but you'll be too busy enjoying yourself to care. You can compare it to games like Crackdown, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, and Ratchet and Clank, but by combining the best elements of those games into a single package and injecting it with an anything goes, rock and roll attitude, you'll never think of it as anything but a singular achievement that stands tall on its own merits. It's one of the best games on the Xbox One, and a refreshing shot of merriment.

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The Good
Vibrant and explosive action
Forgiving in the name of giving you an enjoyable experience
Convincing and entertaining voice acting
Empowering, superhuman mobility
The Bad
A few too many fetch quests at the start
Multiplayer doesn't scale well
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Sunset Overdrive

About the Author

Peter blasted his way through the main mission path, taking the time to dabble in side missions and multiplayer matches along the way.
1130 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for santinegrete

This game is like PS3 Infamous, but on drugs. You can grind on cables at the start of the game tough.

Avatar image for mpl911

Just started playing this (thank you GwG), and have to say this game is BRILLIANT!! It's just such fun. It's really not my kind of game at all ("skating", blaring rock music (which fortunately you can turn off), cartoon-y visuals and a load of irreverent sweary characters) but this is an absolute blast. The smoothness and uniqueness of the movement mechanics make this such a laugh to play and the dialogue is genuinely funny.

Personally I'd give this a 9, I can't actually see where in the above review the game loses 2 points...all seems to be very positive as far as I can see.

Maybe the skating thing will get old, but I'm 13 hours into this, and having such a blast that point seems days away.

If you haven't tried this yet, please do,..I'm pretty sure you won't regret it.

Brilliant. Also, thank you MS for persuading Insomniac to let you release this on's a real game (imo) on GwG yet.

Avatar image for dylan35

Brilliant game....same developer as Ratchet and Clank wich is brilliant! So umm this new ip gets an 8. Your @#$% kidding right? Ratchet gets a 9 total b.s :)

Avatar image for NTM23

My brother bought this game around release since he was interested enough, and I was on the fence. I played maybe five hours of it in all since, or what felt like that amount of time; I didn't really do much in it. I just couldn't get into it. Some of it had 'charm' which I liked, but the gameplay wasn't something I was looking for at the time, and normally I can look past music I would otherwise not enjoy out of a game if it fit inside the game, but I couldn't with this initially. Now, I like both aspects. I don't have anything new to play right now, so I thought I'd play this, and I'm disappointed I didn't play it sooner. I think it's great. Also, there came an update unbeknownst to me, and it included new clothes and weapons, which I really appreciate. There's a normal assault rifle, an AK-47 I think, and though not nearly as creative as the other guns in the game, it's the one I use most, then once the ammo runs out of that, I'll use a gun that shoots fire works out of it, or two variations of shotgun. It just takes a bit more delving into to really enjoy the game I guess.

Avatar image for angrycreep

OK at the time of the review the guy calls the game at the end of the review, one of the best games for Xbox One and then he gives it an 8. You would think that a game that you talking so good in your review and are also calling one of the best Xbox One games, would score a lot higher than just an 8. As most of the times with this reviews the final score don't match the review giving in the video review.

Avatar image for firecese

Sunset Overdrive is already available in the PC version? I downloaded the manager from the GamerSpecial.Com and then the game, a great solution .. Link Manager:, recommend to all installation is very simple :) What do you think about this site?

Avatar image for hoyholyhoy

I say this as someone who looked past it's Xbox exclusivity and embraced it with open arms, expecting it to be yet another one of the amazing Insomniac games I'd come to know and love over the years. This was one of the most deeply disappointing games I've played all year. I had such high hopes for this game, thinking it would be the reason I would give my Xbox a chance, but it didn't turn out like I hoped.

-The traversal is downright tedious insanity as they force you to be constantly grinding, rolling, wall running, etc just to be able to take on a wave of enemies when I simply at times just want to stand still for 2 seconds to catch my breath - it just isn't possible.

-The close quarters combat is clunky at best with a questionable auto-aim system that sometimes has my leaping all around attacking entirely different enemies only to find myself get completely slaughtered by the horde.

-Constant cussing that adds nothing of substance or comedy to the narrative, but instead a bunch of piss-poor voice actors reading off horribly written dialogue that sounds straight out of a teenagers diary or something.

-Horrible faux-punk soundtrack (which sounds like it only consists of like 3 songs) makes me want to rip my ears out. That isn't real punk, that's cheap, banal, imitation trash. There are a few sections in which the music is actually some sort of EDM, or dubstep style music that actually fits the game's tone much better then the rest.

-The game is shallow, with an 8 or so hour story (full to the brim of fetch quests) and even more optional fetch quests, it gets boring quick.

-Multiplayer is a sloppy mess. You just find a group of way too many people for one simple survival and practically sit back as about 3 of the do all the work while you wonder where any of the enemies actually are. Give us a 2-4 player co-op and you'll get me.

I do need to say though, that even through all this trouble, it turns out the game isn't terrible by any means, it's just not what I would have wanted from such a great developer. What's so sad is that this is still one of the best Xbox One games out right now, and that isn't saying much. (I don't count Titanfall because it's not exclusive, otherwise it beats any XO game by miles) Wait for a price drop if you haven't already. I'd say personally its a 6.5/10.

And no, I'm not a fanboy. I love games from all consoles, have all consoles (and PC) and love anything worth my time, simple as that. XO just happens to not be one of those things at the moment.

Avatar image for dani_i89

@hoyholyhoy I honestly couldn't disagree with you more. This is such a fluid, fun game to play. The cussing isn't too over the top at all, and the melee is really fun (you have to build up your points for it to be truly effective). The soundtrack fits perfectly and really adds to the games feel. This is a game that can make fun of itself and doesn't's just a fun, colourful underrated game that puts a smile on your face. You don't get that often at all these days.

Avatar image for ViciousWayz

This game is actually amazingly fun. It is the icing on the cake for me that has led me to feel my XB1 was a better purchase than my PS4. I could have waited until 2015 or 2016 for PS4 and wound up with the latest version as well as a cheaper price, given no must-have exclusives are on PS4 (inFAMOUS 3 is meh at best and The Last of Us I already have platinum from the PS3 version, I bought it again because otherwise there is nothing else for my PS4).

Now Sunset Overdrive is fresh, it's fun, it's fluid, and the graphics are appealing to the eyes.


Avatar image for robbiejones

@cvantu @robbiejones Nah i got the "sunset overdrive white edition" or whatever it's called, it came "kinectless" lol. Def gonna get the master chief collection, it'll bring back memories for when i was an early teen :D

Avatar image for ViciousWayz

@robbiejones Halo: MCC was the only remastered game I've been excited about due to the games not being from just last year (I'm looking at you TLOU and GTA V!).

But... DAT Halo 2, so fun, highly recommended.

Avatar image for robbiejones

Games really surprising me, thoroughly enjoying myself. I got an Xbox One recently and i'm just happy with the "high quality" of games on the system. Forza horizon 2, sunset overdrive, and D4 have been great! Great buy to anyone on the fence, highly recommended.

Avatar image for cvantu

@robbiejones if you have Kinect, Fantasia is a grand experience.

Avatar image for Derugs

Whats so special about this' Infamous cloned abortion of a game'???

Avatar image for underxgames

No Surprise this game got great reviews, Ratchet And Clank has always been awesome, both game-play wise, and technically (Graphics) so... :D

Avatar image for zerohournow

In just here to laugh at the bitter pony fanboys who can't believe something got a higher rating than destiny.

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@zerohournow You aren't as clever or funny as you think you are.

Avatar image for busterfriendly

@zerohournow Pony as in Sony? Destiny is multi-platform?

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Avatar image for hoyholyhoy

@moesuir PC's are gonna cost you a little more than $350 bud.

Avatar image for rsmith124

One question to all you sunset gamers.. how many underwear girl players are there? LOL

Avatar image for rsmith124

skip lords of the fallen.. this is the one!! great game.. loads of fun! great job Microsoft and Insomniac. you nailed it.. 8? I give it a solid 9.

Avatar image for cvantu

@eyerok the risk of making games today are far greater considering the amount of money that has to be thrown into the project. You could risk a Sonic the Hedgehog then. However, a game like Sunset Overdrive could provide a greater flop. This was really an eye opener when Shenmue experienced this.

Avatar image for cvantu

I cannot find anything I dislike about the game. There's something incredibly addicting about keeping yourself off the ground and building the combo multipliers that other games have attempted to do, but has never been so engaging. The game just has fun. It wants you to have fun. It succeeds in bringing fun. Maybe gamers today can't appreciate what games used to be and nowadays they just want somber typical stories and several hours of non interactive cut scenes. The premise of this game could have been a mechanical nightmare, but all the controls gel so nicely. As a fan of Jet Grind Radio, Sunset improves on its ideas in ever way. Not fighting the camera or accidentally getting stuck on rails like in JGR is really nice. It improves on the Saints Row ideas. I liked Saints Row, but the mission structures would overstay their welcome. The missions would be repetitive and last way too long so you're bored before a mission ends. Insomiac seemed to nail exactly how long a mission should be before you start getting bored. They arranged the game nicely which keeps you wanting to play "one more mission" before going to bed.

Avatar image for busterfriendly

@cvantu The only thing I've found I dislike is they replay the audio bits that are telling you what to do next too much. I'm out searching for ingredients and the guy keeps chiming in telling me I need to find more ingredients. Okay, I got it, shut up now. It also replays the last one if you do fast travel. It's pretty minor but something they could improve.

Avatar image for cvantu

@busterfriendly @cvantu I find this a problem in most open world games. I really wish developers would understand that we don't need phrases repeated like we're pulling a sting on a plush doll.

Avatar image for Tomcat2007

@cvantu well said. and to some people (mainly who haven't played it) that try to over-analyze this game and find reasons it shouldn't be as good as it is; for example being too immature, too cartoonish, not enough like some other game, the end it all comes down the question that was answered by your last sentence: Does this game make you want to keep playing?...a game that does is the sign of a great game and nothing else matters.

Avatar image for cvantu

@Tomcat2007 @cvantu I think I am about half way through the game...or not...but it continues to provide new types of mission variety. Just when I think I am done for the night, it provides something fresh.

Avatar image for busterfriendly

I've played it for a few hours now and it just keeps getting more fun. I think they might be trying a bit too hard to appeal to teenage males but the game mechanics and variety of challenges keep it interesting.

Avatar image for vegeta262

im loving every minute of this game i had a feeling it was going to be a good game but sunset overdrive is a great game.

Avatar image for donteatmypanda

Would love to own this it looks like so much fun. A mixture somewhere between jet set radio and dead nation... however my comment is that this 'review' is more trailer than review - I can't believe there was no real examination of the weaker points of the game (even the best games have weak areas to examine in a review) I get he enjoys the game (no doubt I will when I play it) but I came to GS expecting some level of critique on the experience instead watching this was pure advertisement for the game (which I'm interested in regardless).

Avatar image for cvantu

@donteatmypanda as someone who has spent at least 8 hours on the game...I haven't found many weak points myself. It's extremely polished. Fetch missions can be a bit repetitive at times, but unlike other open world games and their fetch quests, this game uses them to bolster the best part of the game, and that is the traversial abilities, which doesn't make the quests as bland as they could be.

Avatar image for Zevvion

This is completely awesome. I secretly hoped this would be good, but I honestly expected it to not be too great. Most reviews seem to be very positive. Lords of the Fallen; as a Dark Souls fan I hoped it would be a great clone, but I just thought it would disappoint. That seems to also be a pretty good game after all.

Good pair of surprises. Must be kind of scary to invest that amount of time and resources into a new IP like Sunset Overdrive and at the same time try to be the first to clone a game in Lords of the Fallen. They both succeeded it seems. I dig it. Well done devs.

Avatar image for Pyrosa

I've only have about 2.5 hours to spend in it thus far, but here's the takeaway:

It's a LOT of fun, and if you ever played/enjoyed JSR/JSRF, it's like a modernized JSRF + over-the-top shooting/bashing.

For those in the "trying too hard" camp, you clearly haven't played it yet -- it just "works". They were clearly self-aware of the Poochie potential, and constantly break the 4th wall to deflate exactly that perception. It's a fine line, but it works -- and frankly, you're CONSTANTLY jumping, grinding, shooting, smashing, and generally tearing stuff up and WON'T CARE after about the first 2 minutes.

Avatar image for filipejpg

anyone know the music name?

from the drunk flying doll

Now Out on Google Play:
Avatar image for flakjackets

Xbox always wins.


Gaming is MORE FUN on the XBOX ONE!

Avatar image for jawsdc316

@flakjackets Um you want a cookie? smh how old are you? lol

Avatar image for jim_peterson

@flakjackets Xbox has the worst shills.

Avatar image for busterfriendly

@jim_peterson Do you even know what a shill is?

Avatar image for andrewryan123

@busterfriendly @jim_peterson He used it correctly, so what's your point?

Avatar image for Gravity_Slave

When games try to hard to be wacky and "awesome" like this...I lose interest. It gives off a lame and sad early 90's vibe where companies think they know "what the kids want" but really don't. Sunset Overdrive stinks of it.

Avatar image for eyerok

@Gravity_Slave on the contrary, devs in the 90s knew exactly what the gamers wanted, and many of them made the games that they themselves would want to play. That's the reason the 90s era had tons and tons of games that have influenced game design and theory till this day (Diablo, Fallout, Baldur's Gate, Heroes of Might and Magic, Thief, Shenmue, Zelda OoT, Mario 64, Tony Hawk series, Duke Nukem 3D, Half Life, Dues Ex, System Shock, Monkey island, grim fandago, Myst, Star craft, Quake I-III, Red Alert, Golden eye 007, Mortal Kombat II-III, X-men: Children of the Atom, Street Fighter II, Tekken 3, Doom 2, Rayman series, Homeworld, Dungeon Keeper 2, Civilization, planescape torment, Sonic, Age of Empires...the list is freaking endless.)

Many devs today don't know or don't care about what the gamers want, as long as the project is commercially viable and can yield profits, they'll make it. The commercial element to gaming is much more present today than in the 90s when success was not guaranteed even if the game was really good.

Avatar image for underxgames

@eyerok Bravo, well said. Also Racthet and Clank has always had this kind of sense of humor, Sunset Overdrive is a reflection of the artist behind it, and I don't think they are trying to pander to anyone... I think they are just making FUN games!! :D

Avatar image for kidnatural

@Gravity_Slave Haven't played too many, but Conker's Bad Fur Day tried hard to be wacky and "awesome" and excelled at it.

Avatar image for busterfriendly

@Gravity_Slave It's more a parody of companies trying to do what they think kids want.

Avatar image for cvantu

@busterfriendly @Gravity_Slave this is exactly right.

Avatar image for TBONE

@Gravity_Slave Clearly, you haven't played the game. It's not a kids game. There is adult language and violence all in it. It takes skill to progress and any kid would find it difficult to play. Why bother commenting on a game when you are so ignorant?

Avatar image for jim_peterson

@Gravity_Slave thi makes me think:

Avatar image for mynamesdenvrmax

I'm a big Xbox fan and I had zero hope for this game. I am really surprised by the positive reviews. I may have to work this into the budget now.

Sunset Overdrive More Info

  • First Released Oct 28, 2014
    • PC
    • Xbox One
    Sunset Overdrive is an always changing, open-world game set in the not-so-distant future where a catastrophic event has left your city overrun by mutants.
    Average Rating169 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Sunset Overdrive
    Developed by:
    Insomniac Games
    Published by:
    THQ Nordic, Microsoft Game Studios
    3D, Action, Shooter, Third-Person
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence