The House Of The Dead 2
Back in the 1970s when sideburns were in vogue, the Queen was still quite hip (hard to believe we know) and Slade had only re-released Merry Christmas three times, there was a car known as the Triumph Stag. It was a stunning car, a veritable totty-magnet if you will, and the public loved it. Loved it, that is, until a slight oversight in the design caused the engine to explode within a few thousand miles. A few fires, many returns and a lot of dented egos later, the Stag was consigned to the drawing board and only a few hundred of them survive today; the pride and joy of some bearded bloke in Essex. Had someone at Triumph taken the Stag for a serious test drive before it was launched all this could have been avoided. Enter Sega, stage left...
Forget The Mouse
You see, while House Of The Dead 2 is almost a carbon copy of the coin-op and the console version, somebody somewhere didn't play the game the way most PC players will. And that's with a bloody mouse. Games that require a light-gun are rare as rocking-horse shit, and HOTD 2 would have been the perfect light-gun/game bundle for PC players. This is coming in September, but until then we get the coin-op with all the frustration of using a mouse.
The game itself is the usual 'scary-scary-horror-brooding' affair, although the green-blooded zombies are none too impressive with little in the way of gore. If you added some stale smoke, a load of screaming school kids and some dodgy neon lights, it would feel like you were in a seaside arcade.
The game is true to its heritage, and has the same dubious plot involving a guy called G who you have to rescue/avenge (things get a little hard to follow), although there is sadly no mention of finding the G-Spot. Cue the obvious 'finding the button' jokes.
Get Your Gun
If you can wait until September when the light-gun/game bundle is out, will be a delight to play. If you have a good surround sound system and can get some mates round for a game, then a Saturday night will never be the same (you're liable to be single in no time). The boss monsters become weirder, and the onslaught becomes almost apocalyptic. It's kind ot like running through a shopping centre on acid. Apparently.
It's a cop-out, but we've given two scores to HOTD 2. One when playing with a light-gun, and one without. While we all understand the pressure on companies to release games as soon as they're ready, it is a foolish move to release it before the light-gun is available. In fairness, the light-gun is being developed by a third party, so Empire has little control over it. But discretion is the better part of valour. Something Triumph learnt to its cost - no doubt Empire will too.
Download The House Of The Dead 2
Finally...our reviews of The House of the Dead 2 are here...you know, that game that's been out in stores since 9/9/99? We wanted to make sure we test drove HOTD2 with the two light guns (the InterAct Starfire and the Mad Catz Dream Blaster--both were unavailable until this ish) before making any sort of judgement. After all, a light gun game isn't the same without a light gun, is it? Some of us had a lot of hassles calibrating either gun with HOTD2. We tried it on several TVs, including a 32" Magnavox, a 19" Sony Trinitron, a 13" Samsung gx TV, a 32" Sony Trinitron XBR Flatscreen and more. Most of the gaming sessions had problems, from the occasional shot wandering an inch away from where you're aiming to not recognizing the gun at all (this usually happened when aiming for the lower-right corner of the calibration screen). Some reviewers only got the guns to work properly if they sat just right (just right meaning perfectly lined up with the TV screen being only three feet away, something we've clearly learned as children will cause nearsightedness, premature baldness and impo-tency...so don't try it at home). Other reviewers had no troubles at all. There's no rhyme or reason to any of it. No one (including the companies) could pinpoint where the problems lie, so we came up with one conclusion: If your light gun/H0TD2 combo works well, consider yourself lucky.
Here are two versions of my review, one for my office TV (on which I was able to calibrate the light guns properly), and another from my home TV (on which I was not). Shoe review #1 (without calibration problems): Boy does this game rock. HOTD2 is an exciting, fast-paced shoot-'em-up. The combination of surprise attacks, quick and slow monsters and larger-than-life bosses keep you on your toes at all times. Sure the dialogue, story line and voice acting have more cheese than Wisconsin and a season of Global Groove combined. The game in between the cutscenes, however, is pretty damn good. The graphics are topnotch, the gore is overflowing, and the replay value is sky high due to the branching levels and all the new stuff (Boss Mode, Training Mode and Original Mode, where you can find and combine all sorts of extra goodies not found in the arcade original) Shoe review #2 (with problems): Boy does this game suck. On my home TV, HOTD2 won't recognize either gun at all, no matter how close I sit or whether I use s-video or RCA...and playing with the standard controller is nothing to write home about (although there are some nice control options). Final score: 7.5. Add 1.0 if the gun works fine with your gaming setup. If not, subtract 1.5 points. HOTD2 just isn't as fun without proper light gun support.
I've heard a dozen stories about why the third-party guns don't work right with this game, and I've tried the guns on several TVs with mixed results. Some of you will have gun-calibration problems. And while The House of the Dead is a fantastic light-gun game with lots of nifty play modes, it loses a lot when you have to play it with the joypad. My advice: Buy the game and a gun and hope for the best. You can always return 'em if you have problems.
As a casual fan of light-gun shooters, this is the best I've ever played. It's quite an intense game on a number of levels: The 3D graphics, the gore, the suspense...at the same time, a few things aren't so great. Gun calibration is tough, on top of that the trigger on the Mad Katz gun is too stiff (blister time). The InterAct gun is nice though. Overall, getting through using standard single-fire is very hard. It takes a lot of dead-eye accuracy.
You shoot stuff and it explodes really messily. You shoot the right stuff and you can open up cool features. The acting may be appalling and the plot pretty dubious, but HOTD2 is a classic gun game. Try not to spoil it for yourself by being tempted by the crazy features on the guns though...playing through with the shotgun with everything switched to auto will get you through it quick, but make it boring. Savor the experience as it was intended.
Sega of America has confirmed House of the Dead 2 for a U.S. release and will be available when the Dreamcast is released or shortly after. Everything from the arcade version will be present, as well as a few new modes.
Unfortunately, the Japanese House of the Dead 2 (which is currently out now) suffers from an incredibly inaccurate light gun (the calibration is really off). Sega plans on working on this before releasing the U.S. version of the game and gun.
House of the Dead 2 is another Sega arcade conversion that's sure to be a must for Dreamcast owners. And don't think this is just another lousy port--Sega plans on maximizing the Dreamcasts potential, promising that Dead 2 will have better graphics, speedier action, and a light gun, all of which were available at the games launch in Japan. Sega is also adding six brand-new levels, including stages that'll take place in an ancient medieval mansion. Gamers in the United States can expea to start shredding zombies in September.