A House of the Dead Retrospective: Part 3 – The House of the Dead 3

It’s the third week in this little House of the Dead retrospective, which means I’m going to have a deeper look at the third game in the main franchise. What? You missed the first two parts? Well, no problem, you can still check out Part 1 and Part 2 in which the first two games are covered. Ready now? Hit the Jump to read what I thought about the third game then!

Once again, I played this game on the collection that came out for the Nintendo Wii, and as it has been before with the second game of the series, that doesn’t change too much. The Wiimote is more than adequate for this type of game and little bonuses like the unlockable mini-game add something to the experience. However, it is quite disappointing that House of the Dead 3 has no original mode, since that was a really need addition to the second game on the Dreamcast. Even the first game had a special mode on the PC!

The House of the Dead 3 has aged better than it’s predecessor, at least terms of graphics. You can’t count the polygons with both of your hands like in the first one anymore and textures look a bit better than those found in the second game. There are also more enemies on the screen at the same time, which adds a bit to the flair of the game. Especially the fat Zombies are still impressive to me, since their animations are so funny. Well, the death animations actually are the biggest weakpoint of this specific entry in the series: You never really know if they are dying in agony or coming back up. You get used to that though, but it’s somewhat confusing the first two or three times.

This game has a bigger focus on score hunting than the previous entries as there are many hidden objects that give you a higher score. There’s a piece of money for example that gives you a bigger bonus the more you hit it in a row. This is actually quite difficult in some cases, since you’re being attacked by zombies at the same time, but it really pays off.

The new setting works fine for the game, at least for the most part: The post-apocalyptic setting is a nice change of pace, but the levels blend together when it comes to the look. One underground research complex kinda looks like the other one after some time, so that is quite disappointing. After the brilliant second game, my expectations certainly were higher.

The boss monsters are a complete joke for the most part. They are unoriginal and bland, only their visual design is interesting. Their movement patterns however are very easy to decipher and they are way too easy. I had no problem blasting through them the first time around. The final boss is a recycled mixture of the final bosses from the previous games and is boring, if harder than the rest. The guard boss, that already pops up in the very first stage, is way too present, since he comes back in several levels and is the most single-minded, most annoying boss I’ve ever encountered in the genre. Definitely not the the highlight of the series so far…

Another thing that isn’t as good as in the predecessors, it the way alternate paths are dealt with. In the first two games, you chose your way indirectly by helping people that have come under attack by the undead. Here, you just choose which levels to do in which order and what path you want to take. This cuts out the exploration and discovery aspects that was so dominant up until now and really reduces the replay value. And replay value is king in this genre, remember?

The voice acting hasn’t improved, but the game just isn’t as funny as the second one. This time around, it’s ‘just’ bad, not so bad it’s good. The story is the same typical blandness as always. The music is hard to notice but the sound-effects are alright. Nothing too mindblowing…

So, as you might have guessed I’m not to big a fan of this one. It’s still a fun game, especially if you have a friend over for the co-op, but everything that made the games unique up until now is heavily reduced or not present at all. The game lacks an unique style and the gameplay is overall pretty lackluster this time. But then again, maybe the next game will be better?

  • Stooball

    I remember this coming out on the Xbox, I hated the auto reload feature for the shotgun. I didn’t really get into this one, but I did find a HoD4 cabinet at a Dave and Busters in Denver. That seemed to be a return to form, but I didn’t last long!

  • Never played the fourth one… it doesn’t have auto reload on the Wii either…

  • Stooball

    I noticed they fixed that reading about it on Wikipedia…nice!

  • grolt

    I thought this one was alright, the first time the franchise wasn’t in arcades. The picking your own paths thing went back to the Virtua Cop 2 model of stopping and actually selecting the game rather than have it worked into how you performed in the game like previous HoD entries. That decision I’m of two minds about…I sort of like just having the option right there for you, but I do admit it ruins a little bit of the discovery.

    I never was a fan of HoD4. They really sanitized the game, taking out all the blood and gore and, really, the personality of the franchise. It just plays like your stock shooter now, it’s missing the flare that made the rest of the series so endearing. I will say, though, I thought the “shake” mechanic, where you’d physically have to shake your gun if a zombie jumped on you, was kind of a nice expansion of the core gameplay.

    Keep ’em coming, Sven! Will we see a spinoff section devoted to Zombie Revenge?

  • Unfortunately, I have no possibility to play the spin-offs. Also, I won’t do House of the Dead 4 because it isn’t even available on my continent…

  • Stooball

    You really have to get a copy of Typing of the Dead, if anything just to experience the fun.

  • Yeah, but PC copies are hard to come by. Also, my usual work/gaming PC just died, so there is no possibility at all for me to play it…

  • Stooball

    Do you have a Dreamcast? If you do I will send you a copy! (ntsc)

  • Stooball

    Oh whoops and you need the DC keyboard…

  • That’s really nice Stooball, but I don’t want you to go thorugh that trouble ^^

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