Review by Daavpuke

"With a B for Burrito"

Come here, hombre and leave the sombrero. You know what? Keep the sombrero, because it's about to get muy caliente up in here…ese. To be perfectly honest, most of this review should continue this way; with salsa and tequila poured over every phrase. That's because Total Overdose is one of the most fitting titles in game history, by going completely overboard in its Latin debauchery and everything else for that matter.

We start our story with muy explosions and fire, amigo; down in good old Mexico (mèchiko). Some large drug cartel is having a row with authorities and that gets accompanied by lots of gunfire. Latin Americans and drugs; it's such a novel crime plot. Long, boring story made short: A lot of events get stringed together in unbelievable ways and someone gets hospitalized, so his nonchalant brother takes place as a DEA one-man-army. It's his task now to tango with the cartel and save the world now and all logic takes a side step to the exit.

Better bust out the tequila while playing, senor and senoritas, because there is very little sense to be found in the madness; it's loco! The premise of the game is set in a sandbox world at the Mexican-US border, where players can roam around and do as they please or take on missions. All across town, there are ‘hidden' objects and collectibles to be found, which can unlock mini-games or add to the score tally; which in turn adds bonuses of its own. The term ‘hidden' is used loosely though, as Total Overdose makes its name shine by planting these items virtually everywhere. It's fun for starters to mess around and just chase items, but it's so overwhelming that it becomes tedious fast. There's no real discovery emotion behind finding a boost for the millionth time in 2 minutes, so it all falls down to the missions.

Luckily, there's some chaos that can be strung together by choosing missions from a screen, rather than finding them on the map. As exploration becomes boring, this is a much more effective way to pursue either the story or some side missions, which both also yield power-ups. They really cram it down your throat. In many ways, Total Overdose is a combination of GTA and Saints Row, but watered down and greyed out in a simple way to latch on to the sandbox success of the prior. The open world is monochrome and dull with choppy graphics and the physics can be disappointing at times. However, the soundtrack of Latin hip hop fusion is a fresh breeze that drives the game forward. Driving a car however, feels like an everlasting dirt road, even on highways, where the slightest speed makes any vehicle skid. And the auto-aim swoops back and forth between targets, making it easier to just spray and pray, rather than to be a gringo assassin.

Fortunately, the action isn't as bad as it seems, it's just that these grievances constantly get in the way. To shoot, kill and score points in Total Overdose, our anti-hero uses slow motion jumps to twist and turn while offloading clips. The more varied stunts get, the more points are scored and stringing these kills together keeps the meter going. It's even possible to do pirouettes on walls or to jump out of a moving vehicle and shoot while the ghost car flattens cabrons. Again, this is done in complete over-the-top fashion, as enemies flood the screen and lash out with dozens of weapons. Unfortunately, the switch between weapons is usually non-descriptive and only in the end did a choice of arsenal really mean something. The only difference is whether or not a gun can make headshots; everything else, like double-wielding, is more of a side attraction.

Add to the fiesta of carne carnage the ability to do special moves, such as El Mariachi, which mimics the film by having two guitar cases filled with ammo. Or the hero can throw an explosive piñata or make use of several other stereotypes, which border the politically incorrect. There are other gimmicks thrown in there as well, such as operating forklifts or descending down a wire; anything to make the game as crazy as possible, as quick as possible. But in their haste, the developers forgot that swift action requires load times which aren't lengthy and frequent. Each city section or mission is divided in lengthy load times and almost any important action requires another load or save bar. This gets old real fast, especially if retrying missions.

In all, Total Overdose isn't bad; it's actually quite good; great perhaps. The ‘only' problem is that it requires a lot of leniency to overlook the ridiculous aspect of it all. While some may debate this game was made out to be a farce, even in that aspect there's only so much of a pun one can take before the tamale becomes tepid. With the happy-go-lucky production values of Total overdose, this game seems to be taken dozens of pages out of bad B-movies; with a B for Burrito. It even almost ridicules the term ‘over-the-top', but luckily stays inside the border (immigrant joke) with high octane gameplay. But once the game is done, the images of tequila, senoritas and Cypress Hill will be forever charred into the remnants of the tortilla brain…amigo.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 08/08/11

Game Release: Total Overdose (EU, 09/16/05)


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