House of the Dead 3 is one of those games I remember well. My girlfriend and I would go to see a movie, afterwards hitting up the arcade to play this game, burning through a stack of arcade tokens in no time. I have a personal fondness for zombies and shooting them in the head and this on-rails shooter really tapped into that in the arcade. The feel of a plastic shotgun in my hands, it might as well have been crafted at Mount Doom. I plowed through all of my zombie friends with jubilant glee. But maybe those are days passed now because its newest release isn’t giving me as much of a kick for drenching myself in zombie juices as it used to.
I mean, the Playstation Network game retains what it brought to arcades but like a lot of arcade re-releases on console platforms, I got through it pretty fast and it left me wishing it had a little more to offer. To be specific, I beat the game on my second try and that run was about 20 minutes. Even for it’s discounted price, it still feels over way too soon.
However, it does look pretty nice and the HD upgrade is really noticeable. It boasts Move support but you can also play with a standard controller if you don’t want to bother with that. My suggestion is to use the Move as it’s the most like the light gun game that was played in arcades and using it offers slightly more of a challenge. Unfortunately, without the tactile feel of the original shotgun peripheral, it all feels somewhat lackluster. I felt more like Harry Potter fighting off hordes of zombies than a badass taking them on, armed only with a shotgun. It also allows you to see where you’re aiming with a targeting sight on-screen, this is an addition which wasn’t in the original game.
The game feels much easier than I remember it being in the arcade. This may have something to do with the on-screen targeting sight but I had no trouble completing the game in two attempts, something I remember used to take a stack of quarters to do. You have the ability to slide your lives and continues from the standard three all the way up to nine. So if you’re looking to absorb the story with few road blocks then you are free to do that.
You won’t have a lot to absorb though as it becomes clear early on, that House of the Dead 3’s story expects you to already have an understanding of the characters and the plot thus far. In short, if you didn’t play the other games you might as well toss this story out a window and just go with ‘zombies happened and now we got to do something about it.’ That said this on-rails shooter allows you a little choice in the destination of your characters. Soon after you’re dropped into the game it’ll ask if you want to make your way through the parking lot or the main entrance, both paths diverge slightly but both end up at the elevator where you have to choose the order of the next three levels. At this point you can choose to do the three levels in any order. Unfortunately that’s about as far as your choice goes and it does not affect the story no matter which path you choose.
From there you’ll get a variety of zombies thrown at you which all act in different ways. Often the game overuses camera tricks to hide zombies in places you can’t see. So the camera will be running down a corridor and suddenly it turns and there’s a zombie within breathing distance ready to strike. There was actually a couple of points where I shot down a room full of zombies and my camera would pan about two feet or so and there was a zombie charging me. How in the hell does that happen anyway? I know the camera can’t see it but my character certainly should have.
Every once in a while the game will wrestle control away from one of the players as it puts them in a dangerous situation with zombies. The other player must react quickly to take the zombies out before the partner gets attacked and this awards them another life.
Each level is capped off with a boss fight, and these easily comprise the best parts of the game. When you step into a room with a boss you’ll get an introduction which also points out the bosses weak points. These battles are mainly defensive battles when you’re trying to avoid the strikes being lashed out against you by blasting them with your shotgun. Then when you’re clear of hazards you just unload as much as you can at the boss’s weak point until it dies. My favorite of these encounters is an entire level where you’re constantly being attacked by the boss as you make your way through and down corridors. This particular encounter makes you feel like you’re being stalked and that the boss can come at you at any point. Every level ends in a score tally and a letter grade to show you how you did that round and the entire game caps off with an incredibly ridiculous boss fight which, in all honesty, is still pretty awesome.
House of the Dead 3 has everything it had in 2002, that’s a good and a bad thing. For $7, it is an okay buy for those lost souls like me who want to relive this classic one more time but you’ll probably peddle through it faster than a feature length film. Overall though, the game feels like a relic. It is like those childhood hobbies that you remember loving but are lost to you in your older, more cynical age. I want to love this because I remember it impacting me back then, but I don’t ride a push scooter anymore, nor do I play House of the Dead 3.
- HD graphics give it a slicker presentation and it looks great
- I don’t have to erode a stack of money to beat the final boss
- It is a really short experience
- The story is complete nonsense and does little to get new players up to speed on it
2 / 5