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The House of the Dead III
Publisher: Sega of America, Inc.
Developer: Wow Entertainment
Style(s): Shooting Gallery
Synopsis: Sega's zombie-blasting light gun series makes its Xbox debut with the exclusive release of The House of the Dead III. Taking place 20 years after the events in the second game, this third title has Lisa Rogan and Agent G investigating the disappearance of Lisa's father, who vanished while searching an abandoned industrial depot two weeks earlier. As before, the on-rails action involves blasting wave upon wave of undead abominations from a first-person viewpoint. For the first time in the series, an auto-reloading shotgun is the weapon of choice, which eliminates the need to shoot offscreen in order to reload. Instead, players must wait a few seconds as their character's onscreen hand automatically replenishes the shells by loading them into the barrel. Gone are the hapless innocents of past games in the series, replaced instead by the character's partner, who must occasionally be saved from precarious situations. These predicaments generally involve groups of zombies swarming around the partner. Quickly shooting them down will earn players bonus lives, but failed attempts are not punished. A separate Time Attack mode offers a slight variation on the basic formula. Eliminating zombies in this mode adds additional seconds to a time limit, while taking damage depletes it. Fans of the series will be pleased to note the Dreamcast version of The House of the Dead 2 can also be unlocked for play, which comes with an additional set of bonus modes. A trailer for The House of the Dead movie is included as well. The game can either be played with a third-party light gun or the Xbox controller, and two-player simultaneous action is supported on the same screen. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide
Package Contents: Registration Card
Controls: Joystick/Gamepad, Gun
The black-and-white manual lists brief character bios and instructions for both House of the Dead III and House of the Dead 2. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
There's not much razzle-dazzle going on in the backgrounds, but what is presented to players is highly detailed, thanks to an impressive number of textures on the walls, ceilings, floors, and of course, on the zombies themselves. Those using the excellent Mad Catz light gun will not see the character's shotgun appear on the screen. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
With this third installment in the successful line of zombie-blasting games, Sega's House of the Dead series has officially become as lifeless as a corpse. Despite appearing on the most advanced console to date, the promised innovations simply haven't materialized in digital form. The only difference between this version and past titles -- gameplay-wise -- is the addition of an auto-loading shotgun that makes the zombie killing significantly easier. What's more, the entire game can be completed within 30 minutes, roughly translating into five minutes apiece for each of the game's five chapters and prologue. While the back of the box touts branching paths, this is extremely misleading. Players can only alter <I>when</I> they play the levels, not <I>where</I>. No matter in which area they choose to fight, they will end up advancing through the same game, since the levels that were skipped earlier in the title become mandatory later on. Considering there are only four bosses to fight, a dearth of extra bonuses and added modes, and no new wrinkles on the basic play, you have a House of the Dead game that is as decrepit as any of its undead residents. So where did it go wrong? The graphics are fine, with razor sharp textures that show rust, caked-on mud, sand, cracked stone, and other forms of aging in and around the research facility where the game takes place. Players will also recognize many favorite enemies from earlier installments, but there's little variety with only a dozen or so zombie types. The game follows the on-rails format of other games in the genre, simulating the movement of the two lead characters down hallways, up elevators, and down stairwells, with plenty of things to shoot from the ceiling, slithering on the ground, or smashing through walls. There's nice detail too -- players can blast a hole right through a rotund zombie's bare stomach as its bloody entrails squirt out from around the edges. Not only are the visuals fine, but the action plays without a hint of slowdown. Unfortunately the game's biggest problem is that it moves <i>too</i> fast, and players don't get to have as much fun with the environments as they would if they were controlling the characters' progress themselves. Shoot a window? Nothing happens. Blast an abandoned car? It lies there motionless. There's no interactivity with the environments at all, other than shooting a barrel or two to reveal first aid kits or items worth bonus points (player can't even pick up power-ups to change their weapons). This game desperately needs more of something: more stages, more control features, more varied enemies, and ultimately, more fun. The lone saving grace of this title is the inclusion of House of the Dead 2, which is an all-around more exciting game. The environments are creepier, the action more difficult, and the assortment of modes add longevity to the overall experience. Unfortunately, it is a by-the-numbers Dreamcast port with no new features or refinements, although the graphics still hold up well. Had Sega updated the original House of the Dead and added it into the mix, this title would certainly merit some consideration for collectors. It's just a shame the third installment in this House series is nothing to write home about. Other than Survival Mode, which can be re-played to improve one's score and ranking, there's the Time Attack mode, which is essentially the same only there's a clock instead of a life meter. That's it as far as the game is concerned, and players will easily have their fill within an hour or so after cracking open the green case. House of the Dead 2 is the game's star attraction, but those who have already played it on Dreamcast may not want to reward Sega for what is essentially a straightforward port. How telling is it that both Crazy Taxi 3 and House of the Dead III suffer from the same problem: that previously released titles designed to be throw-ins end up being more enjoyable than the "main" game? ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Beating the game on Survival Mode unlocks House of the Dead 2, which is a superior game. Players can revisit the House of the Dead III to improve their letter ranking, or bring along a friend for simultaneous action. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Great use of Dolby Digital for clear separation of ambient effects in the rear speakers and dialogue up front. Voice acting has improved from House of the Dead 2, but not by much, as the writing is extremely awkward. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The game is over within 30 minutes, and there are not enough memorable encounters to encourage players to keep coming back. The bosses are generic aside from one standout (who moves around a cage with its claws), and the enemy types aren't varied enough. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
the game requires Joystick/Gamepad, Gun.