Review by clarkisdark
"Dead on arrival"
Sega's other light gun port, Ghost Squad, was a lot of fun, but it admittedly felt a bit overpriced as a 15-minute game going for $30. Sega must be trying to redeem themselves, because House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return contains House of the Dead 2 and... uh... the title kind of spoils it. So you're getting two 30-minute games for the same price as Ghost Squad, but I'd be lying if I said this was the better deal.
To be fair, these are older arcade games whose charm lies in their silliness and quick gun play. House of the Dead isn't like Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles where you have to monitor your ammo and try to follow the plot. In fact, House of the Dead is almost better than RE in the sense that zombies don't take a hundred hits to kill. You can pump a round of bullets into a zombie, watch chunks of his body rip off in glorious 90s graphics, and move on. And that's all we really want, isn't it?
But House of the Dead isn't without story. There are a lot of cut scenes that break up the action, most of which can be skipped. You should still watch them, though, because the dialogue is absolutely hilarious. Civilians will shakily yell at zombies, "Don't come! Don't come!" or talk to you like a teenager reading the script for the first time. And even with the cut scenes, the game still moves at a pretty high speed. You really have to be on your toes when you play, because zombies here aren't the slow, meandering kind you're used to.
Because the game moves fast, you'd think it'd be over too soon. Unlike Ghost Squad, though, House of the Dead does not give you unlimited continues. There isn't even a cheat for unlimited continues. It's likely you'll die and have to start over many times, and that's a real pain. This is an arcade game full of cheap tricks to get you to keep paying the machine, but you can't just pop in more quarters on a home console when you need to continue. One nice thing House of the Dead does is slowly gives you the option to increase how much life or how many credits you start with. It rewards you for sucking, basically, but it still doesn't compensate for an infinite credits option when you just want to have fun with a friend in co-op.
Luckily, it's two-players, and playing with someone else is significantly better than playing alone. Don't get me wrong, the game is fun either way, because the IR controls work really well. Shooting zombies with the Wii remote is a great combination. It's just that there's not a lot of incentive to keep doing it. When you beat the game, you don't get points that go towards opening new weapons and costumes a la Ghost Squad. There are several branching paths in the levels, though, instances where not rescuing a civilian will lead you somewhere else, so you do have to play several times to see it all. Unfortunately, the mandatory boss battles somehow manage to be both boring and frustrating. In House of the Dead 3, there is one boss whose feet are its weak points, yet its feet keep clipping through the floor where you can't shoot them. Yeah, real fair, guys. Sadly, there are many instances where the shooting mechanics don't seem to be up to par.
I had high hopes for House of the Dead 2 & 3, but the compilation ends up being a huge disappointment. Sure, shooting zombies in a fast-paced arcade mode is fun in its sick, perverse ways. However, the boss battles are a drag, the game feels a bit glitchy, and the lack of infinite continues ruins any casual fun you might have had. If you want a good zombie shooter for Wii, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is longer and more atmospheric. But if you don't care what it is you shoot, Ghost Squad is a far better light gun experience overall.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 03/31/08
Game Release: The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return (US, 03/11/08)
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