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September 20, 2005
Total Overdose - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
23/9/2005AtariDeadline Games1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Angel, she's damn fine.
Question: What do you get when you have a group of game developers watching Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi movie trilogy and drinking plenty of Tequila? Answer: Total Overdose. At least, that's one assumption one could make after playing this game. You see this is as much about over the top action and style as it is about the setting and story. Throw in a Grand Theft Auto styled world and the result is actually this very exciting, and enjoyable, title.

The year is 1989 and deep in the sweltering heat of the Mayan jungle, camouflaged among the Inca ruins, Ernesto Cruz catches his breath for a few moments and admires his handiwork, bodies strewn across the temple ruins, as he makes a last gasp effort to board a DEA plane to take him to safety. He never made it home, the tragic victim of an alleged ‘overdose’.

Two weeks ago Ernesto’s son, Ramiro Cruz is hauled out of jail by the DEA to be told his twin brother, Tommy, works for them as an undercover agent and has some new information about their father’s death. But, Tommy has had an accident with a hand grenade and now Ramiro must take his brother’s place in an undercover operation closing in on the ruthless drug cartel overlord Papa Muerte.

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The game is full of explosions.
It's not unreasonable to compare Total Overdose to Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto games. This game has the same open cities where you can drive anywhere (after stealing the cars), climb on top of things, complete the missions in whichever you choose and so on. The game is also played from a third person perspective with a large arsenal available at your disposal including shotguns, handguns, machine guns, bazooka's and more. What does differentiate this game from the GTA titles is the large range of moves which your character can perform - this game is all about the style and fun. A combo system even enables gamers to string multiple kills together for more rewards. Its even possible to perform a headshot during combos to rack up even more points. These points are crucial as many missions not only require the missions to be complete, but also that you earn enough points by killing enemies with style.

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Selecting the next area.
During action sequences you'll be able to slow down time while shooting at enemies to increase your chances of aiming and hitting the target. It is also possible to run up walls and jump off them or jump backwards through the air while firing at enemies to avoid being hit yourself. It's fair to say the controls take quite a bit of getting used to due to the massive range of moves, but the game does include some great tutorial levels in the city to practice in. To help keep the fun alive it's possible, when you die, to hit the Select button to rewind time and fix your mistakes much like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.

The game itself takes place across 18 different locations, from the red light district of Los Toros, to the Mexican desert and going from one area to another is done simply by driving between them, with a short period of loading between each area. Speaking of driving the game includes a wide range of vehicles from cars to panel vans, tractors to, well pretty much anything with four wheels. Driving is quite enjoyable and using the vehicles as weapons by opening the side door or flooring it into enemies and bailing out just before impact is always an enjoyable experience.

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Sadly you can't see the shows!
As mentioned above one of the more difficult things about Total Overdose is getting used to the controls. It's not that they are poorly layed out but rather that there are just so many moves to memorize. Still, if you've got the time to learn them all the rewards, both in game and in terms of game enjoyment, are fantastic. Sadly it isn't possible to enter nearly as many buildings as you would wish (ie the sex shops!) however the level of interactivity in the streets is impressive with most objects fully destructable from cars to phone boxes and power poles.

Total Overdose isn't the prettiest game on the market, but the locations are well designed with plenty of hidden areas to discover. Actually we really admire the artistic design used throughout the title be it in the city streets or countryside it all looks wonderful. The frame rate is fairly good, although it does drop the occasional frame here and there. Characters are fairly well modeled however its the range of animation and moves that really makes this game stand out. Cut scenes look pretty good too and tells the story perfectly.

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This look familiar?
Audio in this title is also quite impressive. As well as a wide range of of licensed music from bands such as Molotov, Delinquent Habits, Control Machete the game lives for the ambient effects within the levels, and it sounds like a living breathing world. The speech is also quite fantastic with some wonderful dialogue as well as voice actors being used in the game.

Total Overdose has been one of the most enjoyable titles to play this year. The exploration of the city is just as enjoyable as the missions themselves and pulling off some of the moves and combos is a fantastic experience. Certainly one for action fans to consider.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSNot the best looking PS2 game, but plenty of destructable objects.
SOUNDGreat music, speech and effects results in some very solid audio.
GAMEPLAYPlenty of moves to master, wonderful locations to explore. Great fun.
VALUEEven when you're not completing the missions you'll enjoy cruising.
OVERALLTotal Overdose isn't up to GTA's standards but it is tremendous fun with plenty of humour and exploration available. There's no new PS2 GTA title out this Christmas, but this will fill the gap nicely.

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