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House of the Dead III

Since most of us are too scared to go dig up bodies in the cemetery and perform bizarre experiments on them, Sega created the House of the Dead series. The premise is simple, a scientist has screwed with nature and now zombies are all over the place and you’re the only one who can stop them. The original game was a huge hit and so was it’s sequel, so Sega decided that it was time for a third one, this to grace the Xbox. Oddly enough, this is an exclusive title that doesn’t actually require a light-gun, hell it didn’t even go to the arcades. And did Sega’s gamble pay off?

HotD3 is all about shooting zombies to bits. There’s really nothing else to it. You start the game off as a man named Thomas Ronan, who apparently has something to do with HotD3’s predecessors. Ronan gets into some trouble though along the way, and 2 weeks later his daughter and a man named G come looking for him in the research facility he was known to be in. Interestingly, the above mentioned facility has been overtaken by flesh eating zombies. It’s predictable to say the least.

Sadly, the story just doesn’t hold up. The game progresses through a series of 6 chapters, where we explore the annals of Thomas Ronan’s daughter Lisa’s troubled past. You see, Lisa can’t appreciate daddy’s saving of the world from the zombies, and wanted him to be involved in her childhood. So she grabs a shotgun and decides to go into a research facility to save him…uhg…and of course, daddy’s advanced military team couldn’t stop the zombies, but you have love on your side…

Fortunately, every cut scene can be skipped. The controls are very simple to use, and the action is quick and never too lenient on the carnage. The crosshair is big and stands out and the guns auto-reload, so no worries in the heat of battle. From the instant you start, zombies start coming at you and they don’t stop for anything, except for a shotgun blast to the face. As your shells hit them, little chunks of zombie fly all over the place, but they keep coming until they are just a pile of bits and disintegrate. Ripping zombies apart is the coolest thing ever.

HotD3 is played completely in first-person; however you have no control over your movements. You see, the camera moves to different areas, you shoot at the zombies when it stops, and you move again -so much for the element of surprise. Fortunately though, there is enough enemy variety to make it fun and keep your interest as you play.

To keep the gameplay from growing stale, the end of each area features a wonderfully challenging bass battle. The bosses are all different from one another. My favorite boss was actually one of the games more challenging ones, he could walk on fences and you had to target his feet to knock him off. That’s a pretty cool idea.

Unfortunately, the game only took me 25 minutes to beat the first time through, and I got the second highest rank possible. You see, at the end of each level you are ranked based on the score you racked up while played. Higher scores are achieved by shooting zombies and finding gold coins in the environment and shooting them. There is another coin however, this one blue, that you can shoot many times and get even higher scores depending on how many times you shoot it before the area shift.

Besides the main mode of the game, there is also Time Attack mode. The mode plays exactly the same as the main Survival Mode, except you have a limited time to progress. You gain more time by killing zombies and not getting hit. It’s an interesting spin on things, and definitely makes it harder, but it too gets old fast. I did however enjoy Co-op mode through the game, it was quite fun. It’s the same game as single played, except two people shoot instead of one.

After finishing HotD3, you unlock House of the Dead 2. The game is a straight port from the Dreamcast, and suffers because of this. Instead of incorporating the same controls and crosshair from HotD3, they have a different one. Only problem is aiming it tricky as half the time you can’t see your crosshair in the environment and you have to reload, which turns out to be insanely annoying. You can also watch a trailer of the movie, but I watched the first 5 seconds of it and stopped because it actually looked terrible.The graphics are pretty good. The areas aren’t very detailed, and some of the rooms look very similar to others. One thing I didn’t really like was that I couldn’t shoot stuff in the environment and see a reaction. I think it would be cool if I shot a closet and a zombie fell out. Sadly you can’t shoot anything but the zombies, save a few barrels and the coins I mentioned earlier. The character models are pretty good in the cinemas, though Lisa looks a lot like Rikku from FFX in my opinion. Some of the texturing was a bit bland, but nothing too noticeable.

As you begin HotD3, a voice says the games title (very reminiscent of another zombie filled game) in a voice that sounds more like a child molester than chilling like it’s supposed to be. The characters all received voice-overs, though the dialogue is nothing impressive. The translation makes sense, however the voice-acting is very stiff and bland in the cinemas. Occasionally during gameplay, the characters will say something along the lines of ”they keep coming” and ”help me!”

The music is designed to be intense, but most of the time during the gameplay I didn’t hear it because of the excessive gunshot sound effect. When you listen, it’s pretty good and it works well to get you in the mood for zombie killing, but that’s about all it’s good for.

The packaging for House of the Dead III shows this crazy zombie about to rip you apart. I like zombies, especially dead ones that I’ve killed. Yes, zombies are dead already, but there’s nothing like shooting them and having them to bits into a pool of green blood. House of the Dead III is cool because you can shoot zombies into bits, but there just isn’t enough zombie killing to make it worth a purchase.

6 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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