Ratchet and Clankdown (Sunset Overdrive Review)

Something was bugging me. I had put 5 hours into Sunset Overdrive, and some elements of play were evoking a sense of Déjà vu. Sure, there were the obvious allusions to Crackdown. The ominous voice, the hidden orbs, the open wold city. Hell, I bought the game knowing it was Crackdown-esque, that was part of the appeal for me. No, this feeling, it was from another game. I dug deeper.

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There were other, more subtle clues. An open world full of enemies, but surprisingly devoid of non-humanoid interactions. The streets are relatively full of creatures, but there are almost no vehicles. Your weapon system is both highly customizable and grind-able (upgrades cost $$ earned from defeating enemies.) You’ve a bevvy of weapons to use, though you’ll find yourself gravitating towards the combustible ones. Boss fights are a fun mix of rail-grinding and 3-rd person shooting.

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Speaking of rail grinding, that’s the main way you traverse the city. You’ve no flight powers, only the ability to boost from bounce pads and grind on rails. About halfway through the roughly 10 hour single player game, you get a dash that helps you traverse the city faster, but that’s about the extent of it. It’s certainly a bit more fluid than the first 1/3 of a Crackdown game.

Have you figured it out yet?

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Of course you have, it’s in the title of the review, but if not don’t feel bad, it took me almost 5 hours of rail grinding (and looking up the publisher) to figure it out. This game is Ratchet and Clank in the world of Crackdown. No further review is necessary if you’ve played both of the above games. If not, this is an excellent introduction into the world of either.

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That’s not to say this is a complete knock-off game. The character design is unique, and the game makes every effort to show off how hip and ‘next get’ it is. Your character is a wise-cracking smart ass of the “Saints Row” vein, and this game shares some of the main voice talent from that series. You also never really die, as you have infinite re-spawns. Each time you re-spawn, you come into play via an animation of a thinly veiled pop culture reference (Back to the Future, Nosferatu, etc.) These are well done, but do start to repeat themselves after maybe 10 to 15 deaths in total. Not noticeable if you play in 1-2 hour spurts, slightly annoying if you play for hours.

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When it was released this game got a lot of flack for being too short, but I feel like 10 hours isn’t too bad for a 20 to 40$ game. Shame they released it for 60$. That explains the sad state of ‘Sunset TV”, an in-game television show that’s already defunct a year out from release, and now simply shows the same single clip and points you to their YouTube channel. This is an in-game experience mind you. You’re walking up and watching this in the middle of fire-fights. Nobody wants to be pointed to a YouTube channel in-game, talk about immersion breaking! Still, as it stands today this is a solid purchase and a fun game. The short length is not is a terrible blight on the experience, I feel it’s equivalent to many top tier Playstation releases (Uncharted, God of War, etc.)

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I give Sunset Overdrive an 78/100. Short, sweet, action packed and reminiscent of a couple of excellent series we’re still waiting to hit next-gen consoles. A few minor annoyances and a 10-hour experience aren’t enough to detract from an otherwise enjoyable and most importantly fun game.

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