House of the Dead: Overkill

The House of the Dead: Overkill is a first-person rail shooter video game developed by Kuju Entertainment/Headstrong Games and published by Sega for the Wii. It is the fifth game developed in the The House of the Dead series, a prequel to the original The House of the Dead chronologically and the first in the series to be released exclusively on a home console. It was released on February 10, 2009 in North America and February 13, 2009 in Europe.


Like previous games in the House of the Dead series, Overkill is a rail shooter, with pre-determined character movement, while the shooting element under player control by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen, moving the aiming reticle. The player can point the reticle near the edge of the screen to move the camera angle slightly in that direction, allowing a further field of view known as "Danger Cam".The story mode can be played solo or with another human player, with one weapon or dual-wielding controls.

Players can also build up a combo meter by killing mutants to receive a score, with further points gained by performing head-shots, shooting bonus pickups, saving civilians and attaining multiple kills without missing a shot. If a player dies, points from their overall score can be quickly spent to continue playing. At the end of each level, the player is awarded a grade that depends on their final score among other factors such as not dying, and accuracy of shots. Along with score bonuses, other pick ups scattered throughout levels include health packs, grenades and the "Slow Mo-Fo" pick up that puts everything into slow motion temporarily.

New guns and gun upgrades can be bought with cash earned from the player’s end of level score, between levels at the Gun Shop. Upon completing the story mode, Director’s Cut is unlocked providing the same game as story mode but with tougher enemies and a limited amount of continues, among a selection of one-off mini games; "Stayin’ Alive" where players must survive a continuous wave of mutants, "Victim Support" where players must help a group of civilians escape and "Money Shot II", a competitive mode where up to four players must achieve the highest kill score. Completing the Director's Cut unlocks dual wield mode.


  • Agent G: Inexperienced but already highly trained and deadly, he graduated top of his class at the AMS academy and is now on his first assignment.
  • Detective Isaac Washington: A hard-drinking, ladies' man, Washington is also a habitual rule and heart-breaker. He took the assignment to exact revenge for his father's death.
  • Varla Guns: The hottest stripper on the Bayou City club scene, Varla is also sister to crippled scientific genius Jasper Guns. She joins the agents to stop Papa Caesar, and a love triangle develops.
  • Papa Caesar: Deranged crime lord Caesar has forced Varla’s brother Jasper into devising a strange compound with mutagenic effects. With the help of Warden Darling he sets to work transforming the innocent inhabitants of Bayou City into mutants and monsters. He also likes Chinese food.
  • Warden Clement Darling: A strange and unsettling man who oversees a high security prison just outside of town, Darling is involved in gruesome scientific experiments to prolong the life of his elderly mother.


In 1991, AMS Special Agent G is given his first assignment and sent to a small town in Louisiana to investigate a series of disappearances and hunt down a deranged crime lord, Papa Caesar. Due to the presence of mutants, G is forced to team up with Detective Isaac Washington who is out to get revenge on Caesar for apparently killing his father.

In the first episode 'Papa's Palace of Pain', the pair first storm a mansion owned by Caesar out in the woods. Upon entering the basement, they find Caesar has fled, and the disabled scientist Jasper Guns, whom Caesar used, is horrifically mutated from injecting himself with an unknown substance. Upon defeating Jasper, G and Isaac meet Varla Guns, a stripper and Jasper’s sister who vows revenge on Caesar.

In the second episode, 'Ballistic Trauma', G and Isaac track Caesar to a hospital that is swarming with mutants. After killing the mutants and a mutant woman called the Screamer, the hospital is set to explode. G and Isaac escape in the nick of time with Varla on a motorbike.

In the third episode, 'Carny', they stop at a mutant infested carnival to investigate the mutant situation, in the process defeating former circus entertainers turned horrific creature Nigel & Sebastian.

In the fourth episode, 'Scream Train', Caesar escapes on a train, with G and Isaac giving chase while Varla is left behind. The pair made their way through the mutant-infested train, defeating a mutated mantis, the Crawler, in the process. The train then crashes in a swamp, where Caesar drives off with Varla before throwing a tape to Isaac.

In the fifth episode, 'The Fetid Waters', G and Isaac make their way to the swamps, finding an alternate way to wherever Caesar and Varla were heading for, and in the process, defeat another boss mutant called the Lobber.

In the sixth, penultimate episode, 'Jailhouse Judgment', G and Isaac track Caesar to a high security prison. Before they enter, they run into the strange warden, Clement Darling, who noticed Caesar and Varla arrive but knows nothing about the mutants. As G and Isaac shoot their way through the prison, they finally reach the electric chair theater, where Varla and Caesar are strapped into the chairs. Clement then appears and, in a plot twist, reveals that he was behind the mutant outbreak and that Caesar was just an accomplice. Clement then executes Caesar, robbing Isaac of his revenge. Clement explains that his experiments were to save his dying mother (following this, it is implied Clement has an incestuous relationship with his mother). Clement then descends on a giant elevator along with Varla, his mother, and Caesar's corpse. Seconds later, Clement tells G and Isaac to look at the stage behind them, where two gigantic, reanimated, physically-enhanced convicts wearing black masks lumber in through the door. Clement reads the two convicts' previous crimes, which include murder, assault, rape, and even eating a little boy's puppy. One of the convicts, Brutus, suddenly turns around and beats his fellow convict to death before turning around and firing an arrow at G from a crossbow attached to his arm. The fight starts inside what seems to be a generator room where the player scurries from place to place while shooting Brutus's weak spot (The crossbow attached to his severed arm)

After descending the elevator in pursuit of Clement in the final episode, 'Overkill', G and Isaac shoot their way through hordes of mutants inside Clement’s underground lab before finally reaching his center of operations. They discover that Varla’s brain has been taken out of her body and kept alive in a jar, while Clement’s mother’s brain has been transplanted into Varla's body. At first, it seems the experiment was a success, with Clement's mother in Varla's body even displaying telekinetic powers which she uses to effortlessly defend herself from an attack by G and Issac. Immediately after launching the agents across the room, Varla’s body begins to vomit; G and Issac use this as an opportunity to pummel her with machine guns, knocking her into a pit; she lands in a tank of mutant formula, mutating her into a giant monster. G and Isaac draw their guns and aim them at the newly mutated Mother. The duos' statements lead gamers to believe that they are about to play a frantic last stand shootout against the giant mutant, but then the screen cuts to a missing reel screen for a few moments. Once the reel resumes, G and Isaac are outside claiming victory over Clement and the giant monster, thanking the use of miniguns they found randomly lying around nearby. However, the monster returns and the pair battle her again. Afterwards, Clement appears and seeks to atone for all the problems he caused by "returning to the womb".

G and Issac are picked up by a helicopter along with Varla’s (still active) brain in a jar, Issac releases the detonater to destroy the facility. G tells Varla of his feelings for her, prompting him and Isaac to discuss the moral and political messages in the game's storyline and potential backlash, particularly from feminists. Soon after, the two realize the helicopter is being piloted by a mutant.

After the credits roll, Papa Caesar's tape recording from before is played, revealing a message to Isaac that Clement's plans were small minded but he had powerful friends (possibly future characters Curien, Goldman, and The Mystery Man), and that Isaac's father is still alive.


House of the Dead:Overkill features 6 weapons. Initially players start with the standard issue AMS Magnum pistol. There are five weapons available to purchase. A pump action shotgun, a sub-machine gun, an automatic shotgun, an assault rifle, and finally a very large revolver dubbed 'The Hand Cannon'.

Players also have the option of upgrading various aspects of each weapon. These aspects include recoil, clip size, firing rate, reloading time and damage inflicted.

Throughout the various levels, players can also collect hand grenades and in the final level, Agent G and Detective Washington battle the final boss using a pair of miniguns that were apparently just 'lying around'.

By unlocking enough of the game's content in the Director's Cut mode, the mini gun becomes available to purchase for use in any level.

Here is a detailed explanation on each weapon:

  • AMS Magnum Pistol- Your average House of the dead handgun. Even though it uses magnum bullets, it is relatively weak. This weapon is carried by G and Isaac at the beginning of the game and is the only weapon unlocked at the start. Based on a Desert Eagle.
  • Shotgun - Very powerful pump-action shotgun. It is more powerful than the Pistol, but takes longer to reload and the firing rate is slow (and it stays that way due to firing speed not being an upgradable category). Based on a Benelli Nova.
  • SMG - The SMG is a useful weapon once it is upgraded. The only drawback is the slow reload, but that can be upgraded, resulting in the weapon becoming very powerful. It is a good weapon to use against Brutus because it can keep pounding his weak spot and deal a lot of damage and deflect his arrows. Seems to be a Ster TMP.
  • Automatic Shotgun- Just the shotgun, but with a faster firing rate and such. Based on a Benelli M3.
  • Assault Rifle- Works like the SMG in purpose, but with two minor differences: 1. Slower firing rate (but not enough to consider "not worth it"). 2. It is more powerful (two shots will kill one mutant, resulting in a lot of deaths in a small time). G and Isaac carry these in the final level, regardless of whatever weapon the player chooses. Based on the experimental XM8.
  • Hand Cannon- It is hard to believe that this little number packs so much punch. The Hand Cannon can kill most mutants in one shot and hits some bosses with a hit you wouldn't imagine. However, it is a bit slower to reload, and recoil will shake the screen upon its shooting, lowering accuracy. The Hand Cannon is either the Smith and Wesson model 500 or the Taurus Raging Bull. Its nickname could also be traced to the Capcom game, Resident Evil 4, where the S&W 500 used is called the "Hand-cannon". It is unlocked by completing the main game once.
  • Minigun- G and Isaac use this to battle the final boss, Mother, where a missing reel blanks out that G and Isaac conveniently "found" them during the fight in the underground lab. It is the most powerful weapon in the game, with the Hand Cannon coming in second. The weapon doesn't have an ammo capacity, but it can over heat. If used too much in a single go, you'll be a sitting duck until it cools down. It is unlocked by completing the Director's Cut once, which is not a easy thing to do. Seems to be a GAU-19.


The game was originally to follow the same style as previous The House of the Dead games, while other themes such as steampunk were also considered. Headstrong ultimately chose a theme inspired by exploitation films after watching the film Planet Terror, which inspired the art direction, plot and marketing.

Detective Washington was modeled after rapper Common, Varla Guns after glamor model Vikki Blows, Papa Caesar after Burt Reynolds, and Agent G on Keanu Reeves as he appears in Point Break.

The game is also available in a limited collector's edition that includes a graphic novel prequel to the game called Prelude to an Overkill. A special release of the game in Australia, the "Bang Bang Box", comes packaged with the graphic novel in addition to two Wii Remote gun shells modeled after the AMS pistols carried by the main characters in the game.


Review scores

  • Edge = 8/10
  • GamePro = 3.5/5
  • GameSpot = 8/10
  • GamesRadar = 8/10
  • IGN = 8.3/10
  • Nintendo Power = 8/10
  • Official Nintendo Magazine = 90/100

Aggregate scores

  • GameRankings = 81%
  • Metacritics = 79/100

Upon release, The House of the Dead: Overkill received a generally favorable response from critics, with an average review score of 81% at Game Rankings and 79/100 at Metacritic. Many critics praised the fast paced balanced gameplay, with X-Play stating "the arcade style shooting is satisfying and provides a challenge for experienced players" yet "easily conquered for those who can’t aim a Wiimote to save their life." Games Radar found the simple gameplay to be "varied enough to keep the momentum going." Although considered to be easier than past games of the series, GameSpot calling the difficultly a "cake walk" at times, Eurogamer said the game "almost never tries your patience, and it's made with such infectious and irreverent glee and such obvious pride, you can't help but join in."

The over-the-top B movie grindhouse style was particularly praised. Game Informer stated "the parade of F-bombs and one-liners fit in perfect harmony with the grindhouse presentation", even recommending it to Quentin Tarantino fans. GameSpot claimed it "reinvents the aging shooter series for the better with an over-the-top grindhouse theme that resonates in its every aspect, from the hilarious story to the fantastic vintage soundtrack." Due to the adult nature of the game, GameDaily called it "a digital slaughterhouse full of carnage that'll make you happy to be an adult Wii owner" and Nintendo Power calling it "one of the Wii's greatest guilty pleasures". Edge stated that Overkill "raises the bar for third party production values on this generation’s best-selling console."

Though 1UP "still enjoyed the game", they did consider that "with its constant stream of expletives and toilet humor, it may turn just as many people away", starting their review with a disclaimer for younger gamers not to play, being strictly an adult game. Another issue critics found was a number of technical issues, particularly with the frame rate, which IGN called "sketchy" and "sad to see in a game that has so much amazing content in it." GamePro also experienced this, notably when "the screen became cluttered with enemies", originally hoping the issue to be fixed before the game’s final release. Another issue were glitches, with Computer and Video Games reportedly experiencing no enemies appearing at all at times and sometimes requiring to restart the console.

It was recently confirmed by Dread Central the the game is set to recieve a Guinness World Record for being the most profane game.

Chapters & Bosses

Each chapter is presented as a 'movie' - Grindhouse style. This is comically used in the final battle, where the "movie" cuts off due to "missing slides", before returning, showing that G and Washington miraculously survived the battle, saved Varla's brain, and "found" a pair of mini guns lying on the floor (without which Issac notes that they'd probably have been killed).

veTHoTD Overkill logocontent
GIsaac WashingtonVarla GunsCandi Stryper (Extended Cut)Papa CaesarClement Darling
JasperCoco and Sindy (Extended Cut)ScreamerNigel and SebastianMeat Katie (Extended Cut)CrawlerLobberBrutusMother
Papa's Palace of PainNaked Terror (Extended Cut)Ballistic TraumaCarnyCreeping Flesh (Extended Cut)Scream TrainThe Fetid WatersJailhouse JudgmentOverkill
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