A rowdy shoot’em up that takes gunplay to ridiculous levels while entertaining the whole time.
When you start the game, there is no doubt that you are playing something that takes homage to a mix of Hong Kong action and Robert Rodriguez gunplay. The setting alone gives it a spiritual link to the El Mariachi trilogy as it takes place south of the border in Mexico. You play as Ramiro, a delinquent that has a twin brother that works at the DEA. The brother is injured while working an undercover drug ring and they ask Ramiro to fill in and complete the investigation. Along the way, you meet up with a contact that works for the Mexican police that is trying to bring down the drug cartel from the inside. While the story sounds cookie cutter at best, it works, because it is just an excuse to blow the crap out of stuff.
And blowing stuff up is what this game is all about. You will find that just about anything during a mission will not only blow up, but let loose a fountain of destruction that you will have to be impressed with. Explosions destroy the target and a good 10 meters around it. It is a sight to behold. And they look good too, normally happening in slow motion for an instant and then just pummeling anyone in their path.
Mission structure is simple, but effective. The game is broken up into several sections. You have about four missions in each section. The missions normally are fetch and receive or destroy something. You will also be presented with some race missions and these by far are the toughest part of the game. This is mostly due to vehicle physics, but we will address that later.
Graphics are good, but not great. While explosions look big and impressive, they are reused quite often. Same goes with the character models. Most characters you go after look identical as there are only about half a dozen models for the NPC characters. The bosses have some distinction, but even then it is very limited until the end boss. The main characters look good and have more realistic features. Backgrounds are repetitive, but serviceable. A little more detail in the city would of gone a long way to suspend reality. As it stands, you feel a little claustrophobic.
Sounds are good, but again, not great. The main characters are voice with a lot of humor and give the parts conviction. Cars sound strong and have a good throaty sound. The soundtrack is amazing and is quite catchy. In particular, you will get hooked on the opening credits track. The explosions are huge in nature and bellow when they happen. They fit the immense size when you see them.
Driving in the game flat out stinks. If there is one thing that kills this game is the driving. While in the game, you have several areas you have to drive to as well as racing in several car races. None of these are fun and they are as frustrating as they can possibly be for someone. You will get stuck in buildings, if you fishtail around a corner, you will skid forever unless you let completely off the gas. Cars magically get glued together and make it impossible to complete a race. It feels as if it was tacked on and unfinished.. Driving should have just been eliminated from the game considering the shooting is what will get people to purchase the game.
While Total Overdose is average in many things and downright awful for others, I have to say that the gunplay takes the game from mediocre to a must play. The feel of playing a game that takes the best of Hong Kong action flick and melds it with the world of El Mariachi and Desperado, will put a smile on any fan’s face. And the game offers a lot of extra challenges that can be replayed long after finishing the main storyline. It is by no means perfect and you feel that a little more time and care would of made for an even better experience. But as it stands, Total Overdose is a fun diversion that will give you a lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously.