The House of The Dead 3
"I Don't wanna die!" God, I used to love The House of The Dead - and Virtua Cop too, while we're talking coin-op light-gun games. Sega has now finally pulled the zombie finger out of its backside (nice image) and released the latest in the franchise, The House Of The Dead III, on PC. The game is two years late, mind, but at least you can still blast the on-screen zombies with a replica weapon.
The House Of The Dead III follows the template of the two earlier games, presenting a basic on-rails shooter where you (and a friend in the co-op mode -though not available in this PC version either) shoot the various rotting nasties as they burst through doors, climb ceilings, fall from the sky and crawl along the ground. The storyline is mostly incomprehensible, but is set 20 years after the last game, and follows the adventures of a male and female agent trying to find out why there are so many genetically enhanced zombies about the place. Or something. In any case, you won't care because the voice-acting is terrible - it even manages to make the actors in Blade: Trinity look like Oscar contenders.
Your only weapon is a hefty shotgun, which automatically reloads when you run out of ammo - you don't have to keep pointing the gun off-screen as in previous versions, which makes both the Survival mode (arcadestyle branching storyline) and Time Attack mode (shoot enemies against the clock) much easier to complete.
Now, all you have to do is follow the on-rails action, aim the cross-hair with a mouse or light-gun and blast any slavering zombies before they get too close, damage your character and lose you a life. Along the way you occasionally have to save your partner by shooting the undead surrounding them, and you can collect bonus items such as coins and bonus lives by blasting barrels, boxes and other destructible items.
At the end of every chapter you have a face-off with a classic big boss, such as a hellish security guard wielding a club of human skulls, and each has a weak spot that you have to continuously riddle with bullets to bring them down. Sophisticated it isn't. In fact, The House Of The Dead III is so devastatingly brainless, that any zombies looking for food would starve.
Definitely the best element of the game is the trigger-happy, ultra-violent killings - heads explode, limbs detach from fleshy bodies, and the blood splatters freely around the environments. There's an excellent array of creatures ranging from bulky, lurching corpses, to fast-moving axewielding cadaverous nutters, and they all split apart in a very satisfactory (and extremely gory) fashion.
Simply Not The Best
But, even with a light-gun, this is a hideously dated shooter that's difficult to recommend when you have Doom 3, Painkiller and a million other better titles available. Even the 2001 game Typing Of The Dead, where you have to kill the monsters by quickly spelling out words, is infinitely more engaging - and improves your keyboard skills. At least The House of the Dead III gives you an opportunity to dig that dust-covered light-gun out of the loft for one last dalliance with those not-so-friendly, neighbourhood zombies. HOTD RIP.
Download The House of The Dead 3
Sega Fall 2002--The last time we saw this zombie shooter it sported a more cartoony style. Judging by the newest shots of the game, developer Wow Entertainment has opted for a more realistic look instead. Result of the success of the Resident Evil movie? Preparation for their own House of the Dead flick? Or maybe they just have that much respect for the artistic integrity of the undead. You decide.