Review by scarlet_puppy
"Mindlessly shooting zombies never gets old."
When I first bought the Wii Zapper, I only had one game where I could actually use it: Link's Crossbow Training. Now, for a while, that was the only game I had where I could use it, so I figured I should buy another one, since I don't like to have a peripheral for just one game. Whilst browsing the local store, I saw this game cheap, so I decided to try it out.
As the title implies, this game is a port of the classic arcade shooting games House of the Dead 2' and House of the Dead 3'. And the port itself is pretty good for both games overall. It's a case of nothing added, nothing taken away'. The controls couldn't be any simpler; all you have to do is aim your cursor with the Wii Remote, shake it to reload, and press B to shoot. From there, you have to shoot zombies which come out you in packs. This makes both of the games incredibly easy to pick up, meaning that basically anyone can play it.
There is a story in each one, but in both cases it's rather far-fetched (then again, a game where zombies attack you isn't going to be realistic). In both stories, an evil mastermind known as Goldman', an expert on the Genome Theory, has sent corpses and other enemies to attack people and take over the world. In HoTD3, it is suggested that it started when he was trying to save his young son called Daniel', who had a terminal illness. Now, to be honest, I don't really care that much about the story of the game. For me, it's just an excuse to shoot things.
In both cases, the games play smoothly and efficiently. The collision detection is spot-on, and there are various bonuses hidden throughout the levels, which if discovered will give you lots of points. In addition, both of the games have their own small quirks that make them worth playing. In HoTD2, the path that you take through each level depends on who you do or don't save. Saving people from zombies can lead to shortcuts or extra lives, which can help out a lot. In HoTD3, you can no longer save civilians for bonuses. Instead, every now and then your partner will fall prey to the zombies, and you have to quickly save them for an extra life, which isn't nearly as entertaining or varied as it as in HoTD3. On the plus side, in HoTD3, in chapters 2-4, you get to choose the order of the floors that you go too, which is a nice touch.
When looking at the graphics of the games, you have to remember that at the time of this game's releases that HoTD2 and HoTD3 were nine and six years old respectively. In HoTD2, the graphics were probably considered fairly impressive at the time, but by modern standards they look awful. Animations are stiff and rigid, the backgrounds are bland and uninteresting, and the character models blocky and undetailed. But considering the game's age, this is forgivable. Obviously the graphics in HoTD3 are much better. They still look a bit odd (especially the facial expressions), but even by today's standards they aren't terrible' by any means.
If you've never played either game in the arcade, it's worth noting that the games are chock full of blood. Every time you shoot an enemy, blood gushes out, and when you kill them, you're treated to a gory rendition of their heads and extremities flying off, with blood streaming all the while. You even have an option to turn the blood green. Whether or not this is good or bad is down to your personal preferences.
Although the games have a very small learning curve, the games themselves are very, very difficult. Well, the early stages aren't so bad. It's when you progress to the later points of the games where it really gets insane. Both games is very fast-paced, such that by the time you are down with one batch of zombies, another immediately comes up to you, and there are very few occasions where you won't be pummelling bullets into enemies. There are also some very difficult bosses which take over 300 bullets to kill. Well, it certainly feels that way, at least. This is most extreme in HoTD2, but it's prevalent in HoTD3 as well. Personally, I think that challenge in a game is a good thing, but not if there's too much challenge. The challenge is also rather unbalanced; some bosses are stupidly easy, whereas others are stupidly hard. Couldn't they have spread out the difficulty a bit?
As for the sound in the game, in HoTD2 it's better than in HoTD3. The music in that game is pretty good (although most of the time you'll be too busy shooting to notice), and the sound effects are also pretty realistic. There's only one problem with it: the voice acting. The voices are terrible, to put it simply. With the main characters, they simply have no emotion in their voices whatsoever. As for the civilians, they say basically nothing other than Don't come, don't come', Help!' and Thank you for rescuing me.' In fact, the voices are so bad that they're hilarious. In HoTD3, the voices are passable, though this can be considered a bad thing because they're no longer bad enough to laugh at. The music in the game is also much blander, and the sound effects have been recycled directly from the previous game.
All in all, this is a pretty entertaining 2-in-1 port. However, it has a couple of noticeable flaws. One flaw is that there aren't really many extras in the transition from the arcade to the Wii. I mean, it's been several years since those games came out; couldn't they have added in some extra stuff, or spruced up the sound or something. Don't get me wrong, the port itself isn't bad at all; it's just feels a bit barebones.
The second flaw (ant this is the big one for me) is that you can't save the game. This means that if you use all your continues, the game is over and you have to start all the way back at the beginning. Now, in the arcade versions, this wouldn't have been a problem. You could simply put in more coins to get more continues. But you can't do that in this game. You have a set number of continues, and once they're all gone, it's over. Frankly, there's no good reason for this, and it makes the game very frustrating, since you have to do everything all over again. It's especially annoying if you die at the last boss.
Those flaws aside, this is still a decent port of both games, especially HoTD2, and the mindless, gory shooting of zombies never gets old, even if it does get a bit frustrating at times. If you can look past the dated graphics, the occasional difficult patches of the game and the huge quantities of blood, then this is definitely worth a purchase if you're a fan of shooting games, especially since this game sells at a budget price. This game is proof that a cheap game can still be fun.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/30/09
Game Release: The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return (EU, 03/28/08)
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