House of the Dead III

 

I’d have done it the other way round, personally, but House of the Dead III arrives on the PS3 following the marvellous House of the Dead: Overkill: Extended Director’s Super Whatever Cut.

The port of the 2002 arcade lightgun-hit works as Overkill did with the Sharpshooter in hand and it’s every bit as accurate and a joy to use here. House of the Dead III sports only one gun – the classic shotgun – but it sputters slugs out with such momentum that it’s more economical to empty a barrel entirely and leave reloading to the automated system rather than utilise the Sharpshooter’s pump. It’s a bit of a shame, but House of the Dead III is a speedier beast than its console-only successor. Enemies are quicker to reach the screen – cheap little bastards designed to rob players of their every coin – and the lightning-brief levels are over and done with in less than 10 minutes; most of which is taken up with seriously lengthy boss fights.

Enemy design is more diverse than Overkill’s with teleporting mutants, slugs, belligerent plants, angry chefs and massive fat freaks all lining up convenient-like to have their stomachs eviscerated. Unlike Overkill there’s no emphasis on high-scores in Dead House 3; despite the inclusion of leaderboards there are no weapons or modes to unlock or “GOREGASM” chanting narrator to make threading together accurate shots worthwhile. But hell, there are way too many enemies swamping the screen at every turn to bother with accuracy anyway. You pew pew pew through the five levels always bound to hit something.

Between the textbook lightgun-shootouts are a bout of cheesy cutscenes that really ought to be cast into the fire and forgotten about. With a mutant virus unleashed upon the world by a Daddy-do-good trying to save his bed-ridden son years earlier, a couple of commandos go in search of the virus’ origin. They fail miserably, leaving the fate of the world in the hands of some guy named G and one of the commando’s daughters (Lisa). It’s tawdry as all hell and not really the point, but after Agent G and Washington’s delightful tale and boyish jostling it’s cruelly sobering to return to the blundering ways of previous games in the canon. Lisa’s daddy problems aren’t rivalling Washington’s wonderful harangues about sitting in the passenger seat of an ice cream truck named Captain Creampie. Chortle.

There’s co-op, trophies, leaderboards and tougher difficulties but real extras are at a premium (there’s no support for widescreen TVs either.) With the ability to increase your life count to 81 there’s no risk of missing out on anything this time round, but the boss fights are so protracted that you’ll probably wish you had run out of pocket money long before you reach the tedious finale.

Launching prior to the release of Overkill would have helped drum up some anticipation for a game that was criminally overlooked. In the wake of Overkill however, and with Dead Space Extraction sharing space on the Playstation Store, even at £4.50 House of the Dead III probably isn’t worth bothering with.

5/10

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