Total Overdose

If there’s one missing cliche from Total Overdose, it was probably an accident. It throws everything in the mix, and the result is one seriously derivative, over-the-top action game. It’s a Mexican-flavored Grand Theft Auto that has the stupid meter set to full, making its chief inspiration, Robert Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi†trilogy, look like The Godfather in comparison.

3_1And it works. Brilliantly. It’s in the same ballpark as San Andreas, though it’s smaller in scale and lacks the polish of Rockstar’s bigger budget epic. The more amateurish Total Overdose is charming in an ugly way, unpretentious, and has its tongue planted firmly in some part of its anatomy. It’s unafraid of being offensive—you can tell that it’s set in Mexico because people wear large sombreros, the soundtrack is full of mariachi music, and there are chickens everywhere. While the broad stereotyping will make you throw up in your mouth a little bit, it’s hard not to laugh at the silliness of it all.

Total Overdose starts with a couple of simple action pieces that establishes its Max Payne-styled third-person gunplay, and then settles into full Grand Theft Auto mode. It has reasonably large city areas to explore, ones that are probably a third of the size of San Andreas itself. And they’re full of things to do: you can steal cars to score points via jumps or find a lot of old-school GTA-style powerups and minigames that let you go on rampages or do something weird, like having a little “Day of the Dead†blast-a-thon.

It isn’t just a sandbox, however. There are main story missions that involve a DEA agent, his brother, crooked agents, drug deals, and gangsters. They’re long and detailed, with varied objectives, though they mostly involve shooting a whole lot of people. Other missions test your skills at shooting and/or driving; depending on how well you do you get different bonuses, including some completely whacked-out power-ups that are Carmageddon-level weird.

Rather than run around and find missions in the town, you call them up from a menu, a time-saving feature other games in this genre would be wise to rip-off. There are also tons of save points littered throughout, and you can usually find one in the middle of some of the particularly long story missions.

11_1Though the controls in Total Overdose are somewhat klunky, getting too hung up on the flaws of Total Overdose misses its greatest pleasures. Unlike most games, you get a sense that its creators had as much making it as you’re having playing it. And when the Latin-flavored hip-hop and metal mariachi music kicks in after you turn into a Mexican wrestler spouting Spanish gibberish, you realize you have no idea where it’s going next. Something weird is about to happen, and more often than not, it does, which sums up Total Overdose quite nicely.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 1.2 GHz, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB RAM, WinXP

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