A House of the Dead Retrospective: Part 2 – ‘The House of the Dead 2’

It’s the second week of the House of the Dead retrospective and this time, I’m going to take a deeper look at the second major game in the franchise: The House of the Dead 2. What, you missed my feature on the first feature in this series? Well, here’s the link!

Hit the jump to find out whether or not I suffered like G did!

First of all, I played this game several times in the Arcade and on the Dreamcast, but since my Dreamcast isn’t available to me at this moment, I used the Wii version for this feature. Overall, the differences are small, the graphics are a bit cleaner and there are some additions, like credits being added after each try and a mini-game. The Wiimote itself is a great alternative to a real lightgun and actually quite accurate.

After having completed the game several times now, I have to say that I really love it! There are several reasons for that, but the main one is the unbelievable amount of alternative routes players can take throughout the course of this game. The level structure is brilliantly made and the paths change according to who you save on your journey and who dies. Not only are these paths really different one from another, but they are so numerous that even after several playthroughs, you will most likely discover new ones! It adds greatly to the replay value, which is very important for a lightgun game, and House of the Dead 2 masters this brilliantly!

On the other hand, the graphics look quite dated, none of the effects hold up very well to today’s or the Wii’s standards anymore. The overall style is trying to be semi-realistic, which only adds to the dated look. The music on the other hand is still easy to listen too and some themes actually stick with you, even though they are quite cheesy!

Speaking of cheesy, the dialogues writing is borderline offensive to anyone who speaks English as their first, second, third or fourth language. On the other hand, it’s so bad, it’s just downright funny! The disregard for syntax and the like leads to some brilliant lines, but even the correct ones are so hilariously overdone by the voice actors that they are still absolutely noteworthy in their ridiculousness. This actually makes up large portions of the charm! Sure, the level design is brilliant and varied, which manages to keep you interested in the actual gameplay, but it’s the cut-scenes that you can just watch over and over again and you can’t stop laughing! The Sound-design still works today, shots sound satisfyingly ‘poppy’ as the bullets find their way into Zombie-skulls!

If there is a thing that I really need to point out in a negative way, I’d say that the Boss battles are actually kind of boring. It really doesn’t help that some bosses are brought back for a second helping at the end, with almost no variation whatsoever. That was kind of disappointing for me, but it is to be expected somewhat from an Arcade game…

Of course, there’s the two player mode, which is always welcome. Speaking of which, I never got why the first ‘Time Crisis’ never had a Two-Player mode, but Sega did the right thing when it comes to the House of the Dead series and always included Two-Player Co-Op. It sure adds to the replay value once again and you have another friend with whom you can laugh at the dialogues, right?

I also should mention the ‘Original mode’ where you can pick some extras like more lifes or more bullets before running through the game. While not being too revolutionary or on par with the PC mode from the first game, it still is a nice and welcome addition to an already well rounded package.

So, overall, the title is still a blast! If you find a copy of the Wii compilation, you should totally pick it up, because some of the extras make it the better version! It is a classic of it’s genre that rarely has been outdone up to this day!

Next time, I’ll take a look into the third game, so keep your eyes open!

  • grolt

    Thanks for sharing again, Sven. Always a fun one to look back on. The dialogue is so so so bad in this game. It really is unreal. My favorite(?) part is when the lady says to the approaching zombies:

    “Don’t come! Don’t come!”

    I mean…what? The super-high pitched robot speak of the first boss also really stands out, too.

    I have a lot of fun memories playing this LAN’d over two computers in a 2-player co-op mode. The PC port was actually pretty damn good.

    And as for graphics…still look good to me. It’s very rare that I’d fault a retro game for having graphics that are of a particular time and place. It was pretty good looking when it came out, and it still has a style. House of the Dead on the Saturn, on the other hand…

  • Wait, the PC port has LAN? That’s amazing! Thanks for the info!

  • grolt

    Yep, my roommate and I would play 2-player on separate computers. It worked really well. I kind of like using the mouse as a cursor, too. Beats the controller, at least.

    Shame about the Dreamcast port coming out so soon after Columbine. SEGA pulled their first-party gun from the market at the last minute because of the school shooting. It was pretty wicked looking, too:

    [img]http://zone.bomberoza.net/Sega%20Dreamcast%20acc/Sega%20Dreamcast%20gun%20_z2.jpg[/img]

    • Yeah, I was disappointed that there were no first party lightgun controllers on the Dreamcast as I always preferred them to any third party manufacturer. Luckily the Mad Catz lightgun was quite good and I bought a couple of those without any problems. I also preferred the Mad Catz rumble pack over Sega’s.

  • @grolt
    I have that controller for the Dreamcast! Guess they didn’t pull it from the European market?

  • Stooball

    ‘Don’t Come, Don’t Come!’

    lol grolt, that line always made me wonder. Sounds perfect for the idea from the podcast, House of the Head

  • grolt

    Yeah Sven, I know Japan got it too. Probably everywhere but North America. I never liked buying third party hardware, even if they were better. Just didn’t feel right.

  • ricerictwice

    Not only did they not release the first party lightgun in North America, but they blocked its use for the game, maybe the system so if you imported it you were s.o.l.

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