- Review Price: £30.00
”’Platforms:”’ PS2, Xbox & PC – PS2 version reviewed.
Let’s get one thing straight from the outset, Total Overdose is, quite simply, an interactive Robert Rodriguez movie. Of course I’m talking early Robert Rodriguez, as in El Mariachi and Desperado, rather than the woefully disappointing Once Upon a Time in Mexico – and I’m not even going to mention Spy Kids! What I’m talking about here is a Mexican location, a very flimsy storyline and more bullets than you could shake a stick at.
In essence, Total Overdose is an unashamed rip off of Grand Theft Auto, which actually isn’t a bad thing. If you’ve played GTA San Andreas to death and you’re looking for something similar to get your teeth into, you could do a lot worse than Total Overdose.
Unlike in GTA, in Total Overdose you play a good guy, well sort of. Actually you play the wayward criminal twin brother of a government agent who was injured in the line of duty while trying to track down the man who double crossed his secret agent father years earlier – phew! Of course even as a good guy you get to cause pretty much every kind of carnage along the way in order to complete your mission.
Another stark difference between Total Overdose and GTA is the combat interface. Whereas even in GTA San Andreas the combat is pretty basic, in Total Overdose the gun fights have all the balletic beauty of a scene from The Matrix. In a hark back to Max Payne, you can, at the touch of a button slow down time while you throw yourself to one side, taking out the bad guys in the process – but it doesn’t end there. If you’re next to a wall you can run up it and jump off cartwheeling while you unleash a hail of bullets. Learning how to make the most of your acrobatic abilities is the key to walking away from gunfights where you’re vastly outnumbered – which is pretty much every gunfight.
But things really get fun when you employ the “Loco Moves”. These special powerups give you some awesome abilities for a set period of time and can be invaluable in desperate situations. A couple of my favourites are “Golden Gun” and “El Torro” – the former gives you a one shot, one kill ability which can be very useful when you’re surrounded, while the latter turns you into a raging berserker that just mows down enemies. However, my favourite Loco Move has to be “El Mariachi” – in the ultimate homage to Rodriguez, El Mariachi gives you two machine gun equipped guitar cases, allowing you to nail even the toughest enemies with ease.
You can also collect “Rewind” powerups, which let you turn back time if you meet an untimely demise. I’m a big fan of this kind of feature, even if it is clearly lifted straight out of Prince of Persia – it makes tough sections of the game far less frustrating. Being able to Rewind is particularly useful if it’s been a while since you’ve seen a save point!
However, where Total Overdose does lose out to GTA is in the freedom of movement and exploration departments. One of the great things about the GTA series is that you can, if you so desire, spend hours just driving around the streets, running down pedestrians, having shoot outs with the cops, or even just grabbing some fast food. With Total Overdose things are a bit more structured and linear, with missions dumping you in a certain part of the environment and not letting you leave until you’ve done your duty. Whether this is enough to put off GTA fans is open to debate, but it wasn’t enough to stop me enjoying Total Overdose.
Graphically Total Overdose is about as good as any other Grade A PS2 game, although it’s getting harder for developers to impress with Sony’s ageing console. That said, the overall environment is superb, enhanced by great sound effects, dialogue and a thumping Latino soundtrack.
OK, so Total Overdose is somewhat lacking in the originality stakes, but the games and movies that it pays homage to are good ones. It may not have the grand scale of Rockstar’s last epic, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in fun and playability.
Total.Overdose is one of those games that I hadn’t heard a lot about and as a result I didn’t have high expectations. However after spending some time playing it I can see that it’s one of those sleepers that sneaks up on you and keeps you playing into the early hours without you even realising it. It’s a bit more linear than the GTA games, but it doesn’t suffer too badly as a result. The array of weapons, special moves and, most importantly Loco Moves keeps you playing just so you can finish each set piece with a bit more style. If Robert Rodriguez is thinking of making another Mariachi film, perhaps he should play Total Overdose for a while to recapture his original vision – it’s a hell of a lot more fun than watching Once Upon a Time in Mexico!