There's little time for rest in Sunset Overdrive, a ridiculous game that whizzes by like a rock star drinking espresso on a skateboard. You must, must remain in motion – bouncing, sliding, flipping, grinding, hurtling and weaving through a rain of rockets and a gauntlet of gnarled mutants. And that's ignoring the visual chaos of your outfit: red pants, a blue flannel jacket, a tall white bearskin on your head and ... is that a tail?
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Sunset Overdrive (Gamescom 2014)
Sunset Overdrive throws the grim, cast-in-stone protagonist right out the window, replacing him with a man or woman of your design. And like the Saints Row series, character creation is just the first step into an unapologetic video game world. Insomniac's open-world game thrives on momentum, pushing you to bounce, blast away at mutants in mid-air and juggle multiple weapons to keep your style streak alive.
Sunset Overdrive's Gamescom incarnation shows a clear improvement over the version I played three months ago: a solid framerate sustains the vibrant city, the chaotic jump-and-gun combat gets an explosive "propain" launcher, and the hero's acrobatic moves connect in smoother fashion. Insomniac also introduced its take on fast-travel, an important open-world feature and one of the only times you get to, well, stop.
In most games that put you on foot in a big world, you select a spot on a map, click an icon and warp there without fanfare. Perhaps you'll see a taxi pick you up, or the hero entering a dark tunnel before popping out at a similar exit on the other side of the city.
In Sunset Overdrive, you open the map, select the destination and watch as your obnoxious avatar whips out an alcoholic beverage, drinks, drinks, drinks ... and passes out. They go on a bender and the screen fades to black. Later, on the other side of Sunset City, they stumble out of a portable toilet and into the seething sunlight. This, you think ... this is embarrassing.
That's the one time you lose the bounce in your step; a brief moment in which the chaos settles in Sunset Overdrive. In its cheeky version of a standard, expected feature, you see what Insomniac hopes to achieve with this crazy action game: an excess of fun, a little bit of downtime and then another round with only a slight penalty.
Sunset Overdrive is out on Xbox One – alone or as part of a white Xbox One bundle – on October 28.