Voice Module

Reviews

Previews

Features

Classic

Archive

Contact

Gallery


In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 


   

   


 



The long awaited third installment in Segaís popular zombie shooting series, The House of The Dead 3 has arrived on the Xbox just in time for Halloween. Aside from improved graphics, the biggest change this time is the inclusion of simultaneous two player action. HOTD3 also features a deeper storyline but the focus remains on blasting zombies. Itís more elaborate than the older games but does it have the depth? We find out if the fun is long-lasting, or if this title will end up rotting on your shelf like a decaying corpse.


Taking up where its blood and zombie-soaked predecessors left off, Segaís House of the Dead III brings more grisly action to the Xbox. This shooter places you in the role of an agent known only as G, whoís older now but is once again facing a zombie army with many new creatures and scarier bosses. HOTDIII takes place 20 years after the events in the last game and is set in an abandoned research facility in the middle of the desert thatís been over-run by undead monsters. This time, instead of going in solo, G is joined by a cutie named Lisa, whoís looking for her father, who happens to be his old partnerís daughter. Together, theyíll blast the zombies and hopefully end the experiments of the evil Dr. Curien once and for all. While the mad scientist has long since passed away, another scientist is continued his experiments on his young son Daniel. Your mission is to find out who or what is behind this horrible new experiment. The cinematics and storyline are much more elaborate than previous editions, but the cut-scenes break up the gameís flow.

Youíll encounter many new undead warriors in addition to some of the old favorites, some of the new mutants are really creepy, especially the reanimated monkeys, which unleash a terrifying scream before they attack. These are much more intelligent and more aggressive than the zombies in previous games. There are also more bizarre foes such as half-human zombies with huge tentacles. Youíll also face a couple of terrifying new bosses, with one persistent beast holding a large club who persistently follows you through the base in the early levels. These are much more elaborate and fully integrated into the game though there arenít as many of these in the game as you would like. These boss-battles are much longer and more difficult than in previous games, so this is compensated for. During the game, youíll also see spinning icons, which will give you bonus points when shot in succession. As in previous HOTD titles, there are several instances where you have to save someone whoís being attacked by zombies. Doing this successfully will give you an extra life. Overall, thereís not that much more to it than that, just point and shoot.

The game includes both a survival and time attack modes of play which are both fun, though you might want to start with Survival. Survival mode is the main game, but the challenge is increased in Time Attack mode because you must beat each level before the clock runs out. Basically, this is unchanged from previous installments, and most of the gameplay mechanics are similar. Itís structure is similar to the previous games, and while most of the game takes place on rails, there will be some branching areas which add to the fun. While the game controls fine with the standard Xbox controller, those looking for an extra layer of intensity will probably want to purchase the Mad Catz light gun thatís been released specifically for this title.

Your mission is to shoot as many as possible without taking damage from their undead attacks. In addition to your standard blaster, the game also includes a new shotgun weapon which you can use to great effect Whatís really cool is that you can shoot off pieces of the zombiesí bodies without killing them, making them look all the more gruesome. The controls are fairly similar to previous games, though now you have the guns onscreen which helps targeting. Instead of viewing the action from a strictly first-person mode, players can see the shotgun on-screen with a new FPS perspective. This is excellent because the sequel moves much faster than previous installments. Another big change in HOTD3 is its automatic reload feature, which helps you concentrate on aiming. Purists are probably going to complain that this makes things too easy, but it also makes the game more fun and intense. Another significant change is the inclusion of a co-operative two player modes for this Xbox exclusive release. You and a friend can now do battle against the zombie hordes simultaneously, which should increase the grisly action exponentially.

While the earlier Saturn and Dreamcast editions of the game featured solid graphics, the visuals have been upgraded substantially on the Xbox, with an outstanding graphics engine thatís much smoother. The increased detail makes the game seem even more realistic and grisly with much better animation, and faster play. HOTD is relatively easy on the lower difficulty settings, but is very hard once you gain a few notches. Still, the entire experience lasts less than an hour through and through. Luckily, Sega has included a couple of extra features in the game. The first is that when you complete the main game, you unlock the entire original House of The Dead title. However, this is a straight port from the Dreamcast version, and really doesnít do much different if youíve already played it. The game also includes an extensive video feature previewing the upcoming House of The Dead movie thatís coming out next year. In addition, there are a variety of options that can be set. Players also have the option to set the level of gore, and can change the color of the blood from red to green if that makes them squeamish. Despite all of this, the game play is very similar to the previous games with the main task being to see how far you can get on the harder difficulty levels.

The House of the Dead series has never been known for their deep gameplay, and this installment is once again leaves you wanting much more than it offers. Sega has made the zombies more aggressive, but itís still a bit too easy. However, the branching levels do add some replay value to the experience, and give you some motivation to play through it again. Another plus is that the controls are tight and responsive, and shine even with the standard Xbox standard controller. The greatly enhanced graphics and excellent character design make HOTD 3 a much scarier experience. Blasting zombies is a lot of fun, and the game is really cool if you like blood and gore. itís easy to get into and a fun title to play again and again. Sure, itís not the deepest game ever made, but House of the Dead 3 is great fun while it lasts. The extra features are cool, and if youíve never played the 2nd game, this is like having 2 games in one. Itís perfect for gamers looking for something light and non-taxing, and so itís highly recommended to fans of the genre.





> Related Reviews

Sega GT 2002
(Xbox)
Gungrave
(PS2)
Crazy Taxi 3 (Xbox)
Jet Set Radio Future (Xbox)
Gunvalkyrie
(Xbox)