Another one of SEGA’s classics stumbles its way onto the PSN with the zombie infested shooter House of the Dead III. With heavy roots in the arcade scene, the House of the Dead (HotD) series has been eating quarters worldwide as one of the most well-known on-rails light gun games in history.
It doesn't get much simpler than HotD in terms of game mechanics: you see some zombies, you shoot some zombies. Once the area is clear, the game automatically moves you on to the next. Rinse and repeat with an occasional boss fight here and there and you have House of the Dead III. It's fun the first few times you play it and more so with a friend, but the repetitiveness without the consequence of quarters takes away from the overall game.
By selecting ether Ranked Play or Free Play mode, players will be able to start on their quest to survive and stop a zombie outbreak. Ranked Play mode is similar to that of an original arcade machine with extremely limited health and a minimal number of continues, while Free Play allows credits and health to be adjusted, plus you can choose where in any of the five chapters to start. Either mode can be played cooperatively with a friend.
Completing Time Attack allows your scores to be uploaded to the online leaderboards, and completing either Free Play or Ranked Play also unlocks a short extra “making of” feature with interviews from the designers and creators of the series.
Even with only five chapters and a total completion time of less than 30 minutes, House of the Dead III still offers a small amount of replay value with branching stages and different difficulty levels. At certain points in the game, a path will open up allowing you to choose different routes with slightly different dialogue and situations.
As a weapon of choice, zombie slayers can use either the DualShock3 or PlayStation Move. Using the DualShock3, the left joystick moves the cursor while R1 shoots up to six shots and Square reloads the clip. With unlimited ammo, it's an extremely simple system with only one real flaw. Because it was originally designed to be used with a light gun, much of the timing was determined with pulling a physical trigger in mind. Simply being able to push a button allows bullets to fly far faster than needed, making much of the game significantly easier, not to mention the increased ease of aiming.
The implementation of Move controls is easily the top feature this title has to offer to the PS3 platform. Calibration is simple and the precision is superb, and shooting off zombie heads is as simple as point and shoot. Pushing the Move button, X or the trigger shoots the gun while Square reloads. The controls are intuitive and allow anyone to excel at the game due to the simplicity. Using a gun attachment will greatly improve the fun factor and bring it one step closer to the light gun shooting roots and greatly improves the mechanics of the game.
The graphics are what you would expect following the patterns of the various other SEGA games released on the PSN. Allowing widescreen support is very welcomed and textures and characters are noticeably sharper, and it's definitely an improvement compared to the original but still not exactly a game that anyone should purchase for its graphics. The sounds are in a similar situation as they have not been noticeably changed: sound effects and voice acting is often muffled but understandable, and the cheesy dialogue is still included as well.
With the short amount of gameplay and overly easy mechanics, House of the Dead III has not aged gracefully. While it’s nice to avoid feeding a pocket full of quarters to an arcade machine in order to reach the final chapter, there simply aren't enough features or additions to make this title a straight shot. It might be best to hold your fire for a price drop unless you're a huge fan of the series or genre.