If you’ve never played the 1999 classic Typing of the Dead, or the cult hit House of the Dead Overkill, you should really play Typing of the Dead: Overkill. It’s a new version of Overkill where the shooting gameplay has been replaced by pure typing, words appear over zombies and if you type those words the zombies die. It’s simple, it’s brilliant and it’s the best way to experience the wonderful House of the Dead: Overkill so far. If you have played Overkill before, the fact that this is just the same game with typing may diminish your glee, but another reason to play Overkill is always a good thing, and the new gameplay really elevates the overall package.
It is important to note that Typing of the Dead: Overkill is a straight port of the PS3 version, bar the typing. In fact, it even includes a straight version of the PS3 Directors Cut in the package if typing isn’t your thing. This means that if you haven’t played Overkill, the PC version is the best version to get. The Wii original was hilarious, but was plagued by frame rate issues and just looked kind of bad. Playing the PS3 version with a mouse or a gamepad really doesn’t do much for the gameplay though. The mouse for example is too precise to be that fun and playing the normal version without some kind of light gun facsimile is best avoided, as it makes the gameplay feel banal. Of course, in this version the fun lies in the Typing of the Dead portion, which is truly the best way to play House of the Dead: Overkill. However, though the typing combat is really fun, it is a shame that other elements of the game haven’t progressed to match them. Though it’s great that the technically superior PS3 version has come to the PC, I wish they had put more work into it to tailor it better to the typing format. As it stands it works really well, it’s a blast to play but it doesn’t live up to its full potential.
Typing of the Dead: Overkill is pretty much an exact replica of the PS3 extended cut, only with a typing component added, this is in many ways a positive, but it means that it retains the same issues as before. The extended cut giving more content than the overly short Wii game is of course a positive, but the content elongating it just isn’t up to par. This content is just two extra levels, where you play as two side characters (one a new addition). In terms of gameplay these are a decent addition, but not great. It’s more chapters where you type at zombies, and typing at zombies is awesome, but the surroundings are a step down. It’s really clear that these levels weren’t written at the same time as the main game, and it almost comes off like the developer is trying too hard. The main game is really funny and super goofy, and they try to convey this in the new levels. The problem is these side characters aren’t very good, in fact the new character Candi is genuinely quite irritating. On top of this the dialogue they are given isn’t up to snuff, which gives the end result of these two chapters being the worst part of the game.
Outside of these chapters the games story and humour works really well. It’s completely self aware and is going whole hog for the b-movie vibe. It’s a knowing parody of itself, that is genuinely funny and lovingly put together. It goes to some delightfully messed up places and ends up as one of the most memorable few hours you will have all year. Even with the extra content it’s still on the short side, but there’s enough to keep you satisfied.
The only real addition to this version is the Typing combat, and though this is the best combat the game has featured, it still isn’t utilised as well as it could be. Shooting was fun in the previous versions, but the gameplay was second fiddle to the story. It was a bit dull after a point and was something you had to do to get to story goodness. By adding Typing commands, this game manages to carry over some of the entertainment factor of the story into the gameplay. First of all, typing at zombies to kill them is wonderfully ludicrous, and second of all what you have to type is often hilarious. Words are somewhat randomised, but not wholly so. It seems that specific zombies have a set number of words they will display and this makes for some hilariously appropriate encounters. So many times the zombie you are about to kill will have the most appropriate (or hilarious) thing written on them; that hints at their appearance, behaviour or location. Outside of this you just type some really great stuff, and though the gameplay doesn’t really progress the word variation keeps you going.
The lack of progression is a downside though and it is also clear the game wasn’t made with typing in mind. The boss battles make a poor transition across and lack any excitement or tension, the final boss is an exception here and marks the one point where the gameplay does progress. This encounter is a bit obtuse, but it brings some needed variety to the proceedings and takes advantage of the scope of the gameplay. It’s also an entertaining take on the formula, though it really isn’t perfect.
Given more time Typing of the Dead: Overkill could have been a lot better. It looks the same as the PS3 version and has the same content and I feel they really could have done more with it. The typing is brilliant, but could have been utilised better, and certain features don’t transition well. The combo meter is back, but it’s not as rewarding as before, and the final rank of goregasm has weirdly lost a lot of its impact (why no random American flag in the corner of the screen?). Also touches from the original Typing of the Dead haven’t made it over, in that game they changed the cutscenes to give the characters keyboards, but this port of Overkill hasn’t had the same attention paid to it.
Overall Typing of the Dead: Overkill is a slavish port with better gameplay. There’s real room for improvement here and I wish that they had done more with the typing set up, but as it stands this is the best version of a really entertaining game. Some glitches remain and the lack of multiplayer at launch is a shame, but the latter is supposedly being dealt with very soon. As it stands, Typing of the Dead: Overkill gets a strong recommendation – but don’t expect a reinvention of the Overkill formula. This isn’t Typing of the Dead: Overkill, it’s House of the Dead: Overkill with Typing.