If you've got a Move and like shooting zombies, $7 is a more than fair price for a pure arcade experience.
The House of the Dead name is synonymous with lightgun zombie killing. If you’ve somehow missed the gigantic machines in nearly every arcade, or are simply too young to have visited an arcade before they became nonexistent in America, allow me to sum up House of the Dead series in four words: Shoot zombies on rails. This is not meant to be a derogatory summation; House of the Dead games have been an integral part of the on-rails shooter genre. Truth be told, one of my fondest gaming memories is playing House of the Dead 2 for the Dreamcast on my parents’ big TV with the lightguns we received for Christmas. Another confession: Before its PSN release, I had never played House of the Dead 3. (Time Crisis is the only lightgun arcade game I’ve played every iteration of.) Here’s what’s different this time around; what works and what doesn’t.
HotD3 opens with a cinematic chronicling the series’ history. This story takes place in 2019. Rogan goes into an ominous science building in search of Dr. Curien and gets stuck in there. His daughter and partner, G, come to the rescue two weeks later. The story is peppered with flashbacks about how the Curien Mansion case started and what Dr. Curien was trying to achieve before starting the outbreak that lead to a worldwide zombie mess. It’s corny, predictable, but watchable. The current story with Lisa and G tries and fails hard. It’s a combination of buddy comedy and family drama. Lisa and G go back and forth about personal problems like how Rogan always put work ahead of family. G off-handedly asks more and more questions then pretends not to care. The rest of the game is filled with the typical HotD cornball musings such as, “When a lady says no, she means it!” and, after defeating the plant-boss, “I never was any good at gardening!”
The gameplay options are Survival (read: Arcade), Time Attack, and Ranked Play. I unlocked Free Play after sitting at the menu screen for about a half hour, so I’m not sure if it’s unlocked by playing the game a bunch or just being idle. The menus are silly, as they usually are with Move lightgun games. There are a lot of options to customize the way you want to play, but navigating the menus with the Move is frustrating. Instead of offering a simple point and shoot system, you make selections the same way you get around in the XMB: holding down the trigger and swiping up, down, left, and right. It probably works fine if you have a navigation controller, but I don’t believe in that particular peripheral add-on. After tripping over menus for a bit, I finally got into the game.
In this iteration of House of the Dead, you tote automatic shotguns. You don’t need to shoot off of the screen to reload; the guns do so automatically when your clip empties. The creature types include Buff Bagwell clothesliners, fat dudes who toss barrels or charge at you, green wookies, axe tossers who shield their faces, and more! There are a lot of barrels sitting around that can be shot open to reveal coins, life-ups, and, of course, hopping golden frogs. There are a good number of rescue scenes that allow you to replenish your lives. All of the situations include G getting his bones jumped by some zombies. It makes sense given the situation. I didn’t play with 2 players (soy un perdedor), but I’m interested to know if the rescue scenes are the same with a player in G’s boots. The bosses are fun and tough without being frustrating. What’s nice about the bosses in HotD3 is that most of the boss sequences are broken up between moments of attacking the boss and moments of attacking zombies. It adds a bit of suspense and leads to more interesting sequences. The game is broken up over 5 chapters that include branching paths. The story stays the same, but there’s a bit of replayability by choosing different paths.
Beating the game unlocks Hard Mode and a behind the scenes video with the director and producer of the series. They talk about development challenges, making the game for arcades, and how they never use the word ‘Zombie’ except for once. ‘Creatures’ is a more accurate word, with the assumption being that they were created as opposed to being resurrected/undead. Though I wish it were subtitled instead of dubbed, I did enjoy hearing from the people who made the game. It’s the sort of Extra Content I wish we saw more of in rereleased games like this.
All in all, House of the Dead 3 is a solid package for anyone who likes lightgun games. I would have rated it higher if the voice-acting wasn’t so cheesy and the game didn’t take 25 minutes to complete. The online score ranking is a decent feature but doesn’t lead to as much replay as I thought it would. If you’ve got a Move and like shooting zombies, $7 is a more than fair price for a pure arcade experience.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
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Release Date:April 2012, February 2012
Price:$6.99, HK$58, £4.79, ¥1000, €5.99