‘House of the Dead 4′ Game Review
Here’s a little history lesson for you kids out there -- In the 90's, light gun games were at the zenith of their popularity. Games like Lethal Enforcers and Virtua Cop lined the arcades. The overpowering allure of wielding a plastic gun against virtual zombies and terrorists wasn’t something most guys could resist. The House of the Dead titles were immensely popular, but the fad had died out by the time the fourth installment hit in 2006. After six years, during which House of the Dead 4 never saw a release on a home console, Sega is dusting off from their archives and is releasing it with updated HD graphics for the PS3. For fans of the series, it’s been a long time coming.
HOTD4 places you in the shoes of AMS (think bootleg FBI) agents James Taylor and Kate Green that are investigating an evil scientist that’s ostensibly bent on bringing about a nuclear apocalypse. You don’t need to know anything else, because the story is only relevant for the purpose of laughing at the cheesy lines and listening to the bad voice acting that’s straight out of the first Resident Evil on the original PlayStation. The result is hilarity beyond measure.
The game allows you to use the PlayStation Move controller which does an excellent job of replicating the arcade experience. Using a normal controller is an exercise in torture and is not recommended. Multiplayer is one of the strong points of this game - because what’s better than experiencing a zombie invasion with your bestest bud? Unfortunately, it is only available offline, so your partner better live close to you. Before the game starts, HOTD4 allows you to adjust the difficulty as well as the number of lives and continues you are given, so how challenging this game gets is entirely up to you. The graphics, however updated they are, look decidedly last-gen by any standards.
Your main line of defense against the hordes of undead is a sub-machine gun that never runs out of bullets, as long as you reload by shaking the controller. Shaking the controller will also free you when a zombie inevitably grabs you. Your characters move automatically from one “scene” to the next and all you have to worry about is shooting at whatever monstrosity that comes into your view. You are also given grenades that help you clear out large numbers of enemies, but they are also instrumental in unlocking life gaining med-kits and secret paths of HOTD4. A letter grade and score derived from a combination of different measures, such as your accuracy, is earned at the end of each stage. This is mostly relevant in the online ranking mode where it will upload your score for comparison with other players.
The game, having originated from the arcade, isn’t particularly long and can be finished in a little more than an hour. Replay value exists in the form of two hidden stages from a little known re-release called House of the Dead 4 Special, the online ranking mode and if you are really hardcore, the four different endings. Undeniably, the game feels dated, but that’s part of the charm. And if you are a fan of B exploitation movies from the 60s, the cheesiness and plentiful gore should be right up your alley. To sum it up, House of the Dead 4 is enormously entertaining and well worth the $9.99 price of admission.
House of the Dead 4 ($9.99) published by Sega for the PS3. For this review, we played the game for three hours on the PS3.