Review by CrimsonGear80
"I wish I was an expert on the *Gahnome* Theory like GOLDMAAN is!"
You loved it on Dreamcast! You loved it on PCs! You even loved it on Xbox! Now, Sega's going to make you love it on the freakin' Wii! That's right, It's House Of The Dead 2 & 3 Return, Sega's second light-gun game for Nintendo's juggernaut of a game console. Is it worth it to once again put the undead back into their graves, or have the two games in this collection gotten as old and rotten as the corpses that walk around in them?
WERE MEEEETING G OVER THEEERE ..WHAT?!
Just like Ghost Squad, HotD features an excellent IR calibration option that makes the Wii-mote as accurate as a light-gun. As a matter of fact, HotD allows you to calibrate the Wii-mote at anytime during gameplay from the pause menu, so that's a major plus. Also, while I'm sure the game plays just fine holding the Wii-mote regularly with crosshairs on the screen, I guarantee you'll have more fun with this game if you use a Wii-Zapper or, if your like me, Nyko's Perfect Shot. Properly calibrated and with the crosshairs turned off, you'll have a perfect arcade simulation.
When you first fire up the game, you get to choose between either HotD2 or HotD3. House of the Dead 2 is an EXACT port of the Dreamcast release of the game. The main mode is Arcade, where you take AMS agents Gary and James through a city full of undead creatures (despite the game being called HOUSE of the Dead) to prevent confusion and stop GOLD-MAN. Spread through six levels, you go through each blasting hoards of Zombies (ax-wielding, swamp creature, small, buff, fat, or otherwise) and other various beasts, concluding in a boss fight at the end of the level. The levels are well designed, allowing you to take various paths through them depending on whether you save the citizens of the city from being zombie pimp-slapped. For example, save that moron cowering by the well by killing the zombies closing in on him and he'll lead you through the gate that's just ahead. Choose not to save him, and you'll double back to another gate behind you. There are many of these opportunities during gameplay, and it adds in to HotD2's replayability. Keep in mind though that saving citizens may net you bonus lives during and after levels. The boss fights at the end of the levels are just as cool as ever, requiring you to hit certain weak points on them to cause damage, giving your aiming abilities a run for their money. HotD2 is one of my favorite light-gun games of all time, and it's still very fun to play ten years later.
The Dreamcast port of the game added in even more incentives to keep on playing, which make it to the Wii version fully intact. You get a training mode, which has you go through ten different stages doing various different shooting exercises, some of which can be quite challenging. The biggest addition is the original mode, which has you going through the game earning various items that you can equip the next time you go through original mode. Up to two can be equipped and can include extra credits, extra lives, a shotgun or machine gun replacing the normal handgun, and other various things. There is also a boss rush mode, which is pretty self-explanatory. HotD2 is definitely the strongest game in the package, and unfortunately I can't really shower the same praises on HotD3.
A direct port of the Xbox version of the game, this was my first time playing HotD3 (amazed I couldn't find this one in arcades). The main mode is, of course, arcade mode, where you take Lisa Rogan and G through a huge research facility that belonged to the bad guy from the first HotD. Lisa's father is trapped somewhere inside, and in order to save him many undead and beastly foes must be given a baptism by shotgun fire. While HotD3 retains the same cool zombie blasting and level designs and boss fights from previous games, it also does some things that rub me the wrong way. For one, the branching path system from HotD2 is stripped down dramatically. Instead of saving people from zombie death (although there are still moments where you can save your partner for an extra life) to go down different paths, here you get path choices presented to you on screen. However, these are basically limited to what way you want to enter the facility in the beginning and what order you want to do the games first three levels. That's it lame. I also have a problem with the reloading animation that MUST show everytime you reload your shotgun. Seriously, what the hell? It should be you point off-screen, you instantly reload, and that's it! But no, here you have to wait about 2 seconds for a stupid shotgun-pumping animation to finish before blasting away again. It may not seem like a big deal, but when enemies are getting dangerously close or a boss is just about to bring a killing blow down on you, it becomes a huge deal. There's also the fact that HotD3 is pretty much a bare-bones package compared to HotD2. You get arcade mode, time attack mode, and an extreme difficulty after beating both HotD games, and that's it. Don't get me wrong, shooting zombies is always fun, but HotD3 is nowhere near as good as HotD2.
If I had any other problems with this collection, it would be that hardly any effort on Sega's part has been made to include anything new in this port. The only thing added is a short zombie shooting mini-game you unlock after beating HotD2 that allows you to earn more items for it's original mode. It's basically the ports, and that's it. Also, you can't unlock unlimited continues for either games arcade mode. You can find an item that gives it to you in the original mode in HotD2, but for everything else you're out of luck. A very odd admission, seeing as how you can unlock this in pretty much every other light-gun game I have played.
Being two games that are more than 6 years old, HotD 2 & 3 are definitely showing their age. HotD2 still features pretty cool hit detection and gore effects when you shoot up zombies, but looking at everything else and you'll probably say to yourself: Wow. I thought this game looked phenomenal back in 1999! HotD3 does look better than 2, but of course it's still 6 years old. I also didn't like how zombies and their animations look more cartoony than in HotD2, as it makes them less menacing. HotD3 also had some slowdown issues at various parts of the game. As a further slap to the face, Sega decided that implementing widescreen support wasn't worth the extra week in development, so we're stuck with the original 4:3 display. Meh inducing to say the least, but like I said, the gore effects still seem to hold up.
DON'T COME! DON'T COME! AAH!
If you didn't know by now, House of The Dead 2 features the most awesome voice acting ever in the history of the universe! No amount of words can describe how awesome it is, and must be experienced by every human being at least once in their lifetimes. Unfortunately, House of the Dead 3 features less awesome voice acting. HotD2 also features some memorable music tracks that are still stuck in my head ten years later. HotD3 not so much. Both games have nice sound effects, and HotD3 runs in Pro Logic 2 surround sound. Awesome!
SUFFER LIKE G DID?
It's fun factor, multiple difficulties, and extra modes give HotD2 some pretty good replay value. HotD3 may be replayed a couple times, but it's lack of substance and gameplay changes may turn some HotD vets off. It still has multiple difficulties and the extreme mode you can unlock going for it. Of course, two-players can go through either game blasting hunks of flesh (or, if your bold, duel-wielding Wii-motes). Both games also have various high scores to make and break, so all in all light-gun fans should be very happy.
However, even at $30, is buying these two dated games worth it? If you still have a Dreamcast or an Xbox hooked up, with a pair of old light-guns and original copies of the games, then you may just want to skip out on this collection. But if you no longer have copies of the games (or never played them before), then by all means go for it. Although after playing HotD3, this collection probably would have been better if it was called: House of The Dead 1 & 2 Return.
House of the Dead 2
+Still very fun to play
+Branching path system is cool
+Cool extra modes
+The most awesomest voice acting ever!
House Of The Dead 3
+Zombie-shooting and boss fights are cool
+Levels are nicely designed
+The extra modes that are there add in some replayability
-Both games haven't aged really well
-No infinite continues :(
-HotD3 is just one huge step backwards from HotD2:
Stupid reloading animation
Lame branching system
Not as fun
Music and voice acting not as memorable
-Nothing really new added to these ports
-No widescreen support
-Not worth the $30 if you still own both games.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/24/08
Game Release: The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return (US, 03/11/08)
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