Rich Lanci | Staff Writer
That’s right: another zombie game. However, unlike the third person survival horror of Resident Evil games, The House of the Dead games have always been non-stop action, first person arcade shooters. They involve zombies and other frightening creatures attacking the player(s). Then the game itself moves while all the player has to do is shoot.
House of the Dead 4 follows the story of James Taylor, the main character from House of the Dead 2. He joins up with a new character, Kate Taylor. The last numbered game, House of the Dead 3, was enjoyable, however lacked that flair (at least in the visual department) that 1 and 2 had. Does the fourth game make up for where the third game fell short?
Arcade game graphics typically are not as impressive as some console games today, with a few exceptions. As for House of the Dead 4, the graphics are fairly impressive, especially for originally being released in 2005. The zombies and other creatures are very detailed and sleek with an interesting shine to them. The human character models are good as well, but some of their animations, like their mouths, look somewhat awkward. For example, in one of the cutscenes when Kate is talking, her mouth has a muppet-like appearance and movement.
As stated before, House of the Dead 3 lacked that flair that House of the Dead 1 and 2 had. It is safe to say that this game, regarding design, is a step up from the previous one. The zombies are more menacing, and have details that make them stand out from other fictional zombies while also maintaining that House of the Dead charm. They are still slightly cartoony compared to the first and second, but an improvement nonetheless.
One thing that definitely stood out was the music. House of the Dead 2 had quite a memorable soundtrack, while the third game’s music didn’t stand out really. This music is not too scary, but it fits the fast paced intense feel of the game. It mainly consists of techno, electronica, or industrial tunes. If there’s one thing Sega always delivers on, it’s music.
On the other hand, if there is one plays where Sega falls short, it is dialogue. Like practically all of the other games, House of the Dead 4 has corny and slightly awkward dialogue. Even so, it is still an improvement over the previous and the silly dialogue. Of course, in a sense, this silly dialogue has become a staple of the series.
The gameplay is standard House of the Dead style. Since it is an arcade game, it is originally intended to be played with a lightgun controller. Even though there is no lightgun compatible with this game, there is the option to use Playstation Move as a controller as opposed to the PS3 dualshock. It’s practically just as good as a lightgun controller, especially with sharpshooter attachment. My only complaint with it is that the shaking to reload the gun during gameplay can be unresponsive, and may cause some frustration.
There are 6 stages, and Sega went the extra mile to add in the two stages from House of the Dead Special. The levels have multiple paths just like in most arcade shooters, and there is also the feature to throw grenades to clear large groups of enemies. No other game in the series has had that amount of enemies on screen at once, so it can really come in handy.
The game has somewhat added in quick time events, in which an enemy or boss will attack the player and it’s required to shake the controller to avoid losing health. These are typically easy, but they come out of nowhere a good portion of the time. Bosses are still at the end of every level, and like in the third game have a mini gauge where if it isn’t drained in time, they won’t lose any actual health and the player will from their attack. All of the bosses are also still named after Tarot cards.
In short, this is a good sequel and it’s nice to have it finally come to consoles. However, it will probably only appeal to arcade shooter fans or obviously fans of the previous games, especially with its short length. But remember: it is also only a ten dollar game, so trying it out won’t really drain your wallet. Final Score: 8.5