STAFF REVIEW of House of the Dead 3 (Xbox)

Tuesday, October 29, 2002.
by maneatingcow

House of the Dead 3 Box art House of the Dead 3 is a great fast paced shooter that will keep your heart pumping throughout the entire game. Sadly, the entire game of HOTD 3 can last 30 minutes or less. The game has been upgraded from the previous installment, with all new graphics, all new play mechanics, and a shotgun replaces the standard pistol. Even with all of these improvements, the overall length of the game and a few other setbacks make this game less enjoyable. The only thing that truly saves this game is the inclusion of a direct port of the Dreamcast version of House of the Dead 2, including all of it?s mini games as well as it?s original modes. If Sega were to have teamed up with WOW Entertainment and released a House of the Dead collection, containing all of the previous games, it would have warranted the $50 price tag. Seeing how this is not so, you are better off renting this game and finishing it off while you wait for your pizza delivery, because as it currently stands, it would only appeal to House of the Dead?s hardcore fans, as well as those who are nostalgic about the Dreamcast?s glory days.

The game play in HOTD3 has been completely reworked from the previous HOTD games. You still have the ability to use a light gun for the game (See the Mad Catz Blaster review for more on this), but for the first time in a console HOTD game, using the controller also works perfectly fine. The manual control of the crosshair helps for the new fast paced game play in HOTD3. Gone is the weak pistol of the past. Now you are equipped with a shotgun, capable of taking out multiple zombie s !&%$@#* in one blast. Speaking of Zombie s !&%$@#* , you no longer will have breathing room in between zombie attacks. The zombies now fly around from every corner, making the game move much faster than it?s predecessors. Removed from the levels are the innocents that used to appear. These sporadic civilians are now replaced by teamwork events, where you are rewarded with a unit of health if you successfully defend your partner from a zombie attack. These events are much easier than the civilian rescues of the past, as the game pauses for a moment and highlight the zombies you must attack to gain health. The game is separated into 2 different modes, Survival Mode and Time Attack. By completing any one of these modes, you unlock HOTD2. No boss battle or challenge mini games are available for HOTD3, which was a big let down. There are a total of 4 bosses in HOTD3 (with one being repeated in 2 levels). Each of the lesser bosses underneath the final boss are much easier than the final boss, and do not help to prepare for the final battle against him. The boss battles are nicely designed (I must say it was an interesting battle against Black Sabbath?s ?Iron Man? at the end of the game), but the battles against Death and Sun seemed a bit too simple and predictable. The drastic changes in game play are a nice way to give new life to an old franchise, but the game suffers from the extremely short length. Taking alternated routes to the final battle were not as interesting as they were in HOTD2, as you will always see the same areas throughout the game, regardless of the paths you take.

The graphics in HOTD3 are much improved from the previous titles. The zombies and scenery are extremely lifelike, and help to get you sucked into the game. Another new feature for the series is you can now see your gun on screen. This is another cool graphical feature, which allows you to feel more as if you are part of the game. The zombies in the game show a very wide amount of damage to them when shot. With the shotgun being a more powerful weapon, any shot to a dead carcass renders a nice sized hole. The holes in the zombies look quite nice, if you get a spare second to take a glance at them. There are other minor graphical effects that make the graphics stand out from some other games. Some zombies crawl across the ceiling, dripping some sort of fluid off of their body as they move. A major let down of the graphics is that only the zombies and certain barrels and containers display physical change after shooting them. With the extremely limited selection of areas to travel to in the game, it would have been nice to have realistic damage on most surfaces.

The audio in HOTD3 is decent, but is nothing spectacular. The standard zombie growl and attack noises are there. There are some cool sound effects when enemies bust though walls or cut through doors. The voice acting in HOTD3 is slightly better than the previous games, although it still has its cheesy moments (?I think it will open if we shoot it?). These kinds of vocals are expected from the HOTD series, and had a slight nostalgic value. Seeing how the music in HOTD3 is pretty basic, it would have been a nice bonus if they had included the option for custom soundtracks to replace the default one.

I like the new approach to such a cool game series, but if you are going to continue with the same fast paced zombie-shooting action, you will need to add some serious length to the game. Including HOTD2 was a nice touch, and may be the reason why many people pick up this title. If HOTD4 is in the works, be sure to include the original HOTD, as it has yet to receive a decent console release.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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