The first game I asked to see after entering Sega’s NYC Press Day earlier this week was House of the Dead: Overkill. I’m an old hand at the series- House of the Dead 2 was probably my most played Dreamcast game of all time, and an arcade near my high school meant that many quarters were wasted on the first two installments. Shooter games were my thing already, but add in zombies that could be shredded to pieces and you had the best damn light gun experience in the world. The creation of a brand new game, specific to the Wii of all  consoles, was cause for joy- especially when we were shown that they were going for a decidedly Grindhouse feel this time ’round.

At the event I got my hands on the game, and walked away pleased and confident that this will find a nice home in my meager collection of Wii titles.

The first level of the seven included in the game is “Papa’s Palace of Pain”. You control stereotypes Agent G and Detective Washington who are after the criminal mastermind Papa Caesar for crimes against humanity.  The opening cinematic (done in the style of an exploitation trailer) shows that the dialogue and level of humor is technically mature yet very juvenile, as the characters drop f-bombs left and right. This isn’t a 70s film throwback, it’s a spoof of a 70s throwback… like someone who had only seen Grindhouse and wasn’t familiar with the kind of films it was references made a game about it. That’s not a detriment to the game though- it’s silly and feels amatuerish, sure, but it makes for a campy and fun time.

After getting used to using the Wii controller again (it’s been a while!) I soon had no trouble blasting off zombie heads left and right. The Wii controller has always been the best and most accurate choice for shooters and it’s nice to see more games take advantage of it. It only uses the remote- you aim and shoot with the B button, and shaking the controller reloads your gun. The game has a pumping 70s soundtrack, making things much lighter and less horrific, and film grain mars the screen here and there. Occassionaly an announcer straight out of an exploitation trailer adds some humorous commentary to the proceedings.

The first level has you exploring a Resident Evil-style mansion, with a long stairway, lots of creepy rooms and even a secret science lab in the basement. Besides all the zombie blasting there are some familiar sections, such as the parts where you have to fend zombies off a survivor. There are a couple of new powerups that you can shoot to help you out. One is called Mo-Fo time (bullet-time) which allows that allows you to get headshot after headshot with slow motion ease, and is quite fun and satisfying.

The level ends with a boss fight as you fight a doctor’s insane creation- a formerly wheelchair bound cripple who takes some brain juice and starts flying around the room, telepathically throwing pieces of bodies at you. It’s a tricky fight, as you have to not only shoot him in between the debris he’s got flying around him, but also shoot down any heads or torsos he chucks at you.

Through the game you get cash for getting high scores and keeping a combo going (not missing a shot). Between levels you can spend the cash on various weapon upgrades. Each weapon can be boosted in many different stats, from reloading to damage to ammo capacity. New weapons can be unlocked as well, and you choose two to take with you on each level. I played with the pistol and shotgun on this level, and switched between the two pretty frequently depending on how far away the zombies were. There’s incentive to go back to the levels again, as not only will you be able to play a new mode that has branching levels but of course you’ll be able to earn more cash to spend on goodies.

Add in minigames, a two player co-op mode, and you’ve got a game that any blood-and-guts-loving Wii owner needs in their collection.

House of the Dead Overkill hits stores soon on February 10th! If you can’t wait to play it come to the NY Comic Con next week and try it out for yourself. Check out the official site for more.