An underated game that deserves better.

User Rating: 9 | Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico PS2
It's beyond pointless in this day to go on about all of the Grand Theft Auto clones that are currently choking store shelves. Thanks to GTA, "sandbox game" is this close to becoming its own genre. So is it really a big surprise when a fresh handful of them were released during the GTA-less Christmas season?

Total Overdose could be the alternate title for GTA: Mexico as the game's look and feel seem lifted wholesale from the great king of the gangster game. But there's more going on here than meets the eye. While it feels way too much like GTA, the whole game gives off a more action-packed vibe than GTA could ever dream of. And that all comes down to the use of an old dog known as the Shoot Dodge.

John Woo made the double-barreled hero, flying through the air in slow motion, hitting every target in his sights an action movie archetype almost overnight. Total Overdose's Shoot Dodge brings that mechanic into the video game world in a big way. Holding the L1 button during a firefight makes our hero, Ramiro Cruz, fly through the air pumping lead into anything that moves with the help of a very easy to use targeting circle. During a Shoot Dodge "Ram" can jump directly into enemy fire and twist around the bullets Matrix-style and use a wide variety of weapons in his quest to take down a Mexican drug kingpin. Best of all, the Shoot Dodge is powered by an Adrenaline Meter that refills very quickly so Ram is never without a new fix.

On the other side of the Shoot Dodge are Loco Moves. By stringing together kill combos (blowing away banditos in quick succession) Ram earns special moves that range from Exploding Pinatas to Golden Guns (perfect head shots) to crazy Mexican wrestlers to an invincibility fueled double machinegun-guitar case attack called the El Mariachi. Loco Moves are extremely useful and very plentiful, but it's hard to select the one you want in the heat of battle. If nothing else, it keeps the action flowing at a good clip.

While Total Overdose won't be revered as a classic for years to come, it is a surprisingly solid game. You'll be sucked in by the game's very fun action sequences and the chance to blow up everything with a well placed flying car is just gosh darn fun. A few petty details keep Total Overdose from being a great game. But what it is, is totally harmless fun. And I can respect that.