House of the Dead III


posted 11/9/2002 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Xbox
In Time Crisis and other Namco shooters, you have the ability, albeit limited, to duck behind walls so you could avoid being shot. Unfortunately, this has been the most recent upgrade to this entire genre, and even that has become as tired as Dharma & Greg reruns. House of the Dead does not allow for ducking, or dodging in any way. You are at the whim of the rails. You move upon a linear path, shooting enemies that always pop out from the same location, always do the same thing, and always have the same weakness.

You can choose a few different paths throughout the game, and House of the Dead III allows for you to play the levels in just about any order you want to. These are fine additions, and well worth noting, but are dragged down by the entirely out of date game play.

The game is also absent any and all real scares. Since the intensity level is always up, you are rarely taken by surprise. When the screen turns you know for a fact there’s going to be something there, and frankly, the whole game is entirely too predictable. Of course, the game may not be going for frights. We’re not exactly playing Resident Evil here, after all.

This is the sort of game that works extremely well in the arcade. It’s about a half hour long, it’s easy to pick up and play (after all, who in the U.S. doesn’t know how to shoot a gun?), and it can be pretty challenging, if you don’t know what’s coming next. At home, though, the game lacks depth, and very little replay value. The game can easily be beaten in just a few times through the game, and after that there’s not a lot to see or do.

House of the Dead III offers two different ways to play through the short adventure. The survival mode accounts for each time you’re hit, take too many and you’ll have to continue. The Time Attack mode, however, keeps you on a clock, and awards you more time when you kill a zombie, find specific items, or help a friend. All pretty basic stuff, and frankly, something you’ll find in just about every gun game since 1997.

The only things that don’t feel “old” are the graphics and sounds. There’s no doubt that the power of the Xbox helped Sega make a sharp looking game. All five levels are visually unbelievable. Heck, the first time through you actually look forward to seeing the next level, the bosses, and even the regular enemies. Each of the ten enemies are highly detailed, well animated, and fun to shoot at. The pieces of their bodies break away little by little, depending on where you shoot. This effect is beautifully done, and extremely fun to watch. It gets old as you fight the same enemies over and over, but there is no doubt about how impressive they are.

Buying a game like this can be a tad expensive, too. Oh sure, the game itself is only $50, but that’s not including the gun accessory, which will run you another $30 – $40. Knowing this, Sega packed in a bonus second game, namely House of the Dead 2. Of course, all the complaints I have about House of the Dead III can be ported over to House of the Dead 2, but as a free bonus, it’s really not worth mincing words.

This newest House of the Dead title simply illustrates how old this genre feels. First Person Shooters have essentially taken over where these gun games left off, but added non-linear paths, multiplayer death matches, and things to interact with. It’s hard to imagine a game like House of the Dead III appealing to more than the most avid gun game fan.

House of the Dead returns, and Sega’s biggest gun franchise looks better than ever. But is that enough to make up for old game play and a short game? Depends on whether you still own Lethal Enforcers or Virtua Cop.

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