If you've never heard of Total Overdose, don't feel bad. An ultimately underwhelming, multi-platform action game from 2005 by Deadline Games, Total Overdose was a commercial as well as critical disappointment, but that's not stopping Eidos and Deadline Games from attempting a sequel. This time, it's on the PSP, and it's entitled, Chili con Carnage, another over-the-top action game set in Mexico.
Cili con Carnage features the same leading man as Total Overdose, Ramiro Cruz, who will travel all over Mexico to exact revenge against a maniacal combine harvester who killed his father. One thing Total Overdose was known for was its rather bizarre sense of macabre humor, and Chili con Carnage doesn't look to deviate from that stylistic approach. Also, much like Total Overdose, Chili con Carnage will feature action above all; but given the differences between consoles and a handheld such as the PSP, however, the method by which all this action is presented will be much different. Whereas Total Overdose had a more "sandbox" style element a la Grand Theft Auto, Chili con Carnage will feature smaller environments that are more restricted, as well as specific goals, such as taking out enemies in various, supposedly creative ways as quickly and prolifically as possible. Success rewards players with new levels in which to inflict maximum carnage, and new weapons to add variety to all the on-screen mayhem.
And there will be plenty of mayhem, what with Ramiro's seemingly limitless move set, currently stated to be around 270. This gives players an almost endless way to dispatch enemies, especially given the now ubiquitous "bullet time"-style gameplay the Max Payne series made so popular. Using this "bullet time" in tandem with Ramiro's moves makes for big combo kills, which is where the combo meter comes in. The meter slowly drains over time while each kill fills it back up. Five kills while the meter is "hot" will unlock special moves and abilities, such as rewinding time and attempting a different approach to you last kill. While none of these elements are particularly innovative, Chili con Carnage seems set to combine them in myriad interesting ways. There is more to Chili con Carnage than bloody action, however. All of the missions in the game are tied together through a series of quasi-graphic novel cutscenes, though how many missions there are is unknown at this point. If you're not looking for plot from this type of rampaging action, Chili con Carnage also features a hi-score combo mode known as "el Macho". Enemies in this mode start out with little more than sticks or clubs, but as you rack up the kills, they start busting out the heavy weaponry. The game also features multiplayer modes as well, both ad hoc and infrastructure. The Infrastructure mode, called Hangman, has two players take turns trying to rack up the highest combo in a set time. After each round the loser has part of a "hangman" drawn in, until it's finally completed and a winner is declared. The Ad Hoc mode is quite different, and seems to be rather reminiscent of Tetris Attack, as two players compete wirelessly on the same level. They cannot see each other, but actions by one player can directly affect the playing environment of the other. As one player takes the lead, the other will suffer negative effects such as a shaking screen, making it harder to regain the lead.
Currently, Chili con Carnage is scheduled for a vague "Quarter 1, 2007" release, and while Deadline Games isn't working with the best source material in Total Overdose, initial impressions are that Chili con Carnage has a lot of potential. As more information about the game and its ship date become available, we'll keep you updated.
12/11/2006 Ryan Hartmann