House of the Dead 3
Imagine the scene. You're standing in front of the shelves at the PC section of your favoured retailer. You've finally cleared out your gaming backlog and are itching to get stuck into something new and interesting. So what do you go for? The new 3D incarnation of a popular RTS series? Or maybe the latest FPS or racing game. Perhaps you're drawn to that ponderously huge RPG. Or maybe, just maybe, you've a hankering to play a conversion of a three year old arcade game whose main attraction was a lightgun, which like 99.99846% of PC owners, you don't posses. If you were leaning towards that last example it's pretty obvious you took leave of your senses some time ago and that no review, no matter how convincing and comprehensive, will ever dissuade you from making your choice. For the rest of you, especially those who like reading negative reviews, then I'm happy to quickly demolish the irrelevance that is House of the Dead 3.
You may or may not be familiar with the long running and highly popular House of the Dead arcade games. Following a long tradition of lightgun games, HotD 3 pits you against wave after wave of enemies in an on-rails shotgun experience. The games are incredibly simple affairs, with little more for the player to do than gun down the bad zombies and their undead minion mates and reload, and try to get to the end of the game without chucking enough pound coins into the machine to buy yourself a nice stone cottage by a briskly flowing river. In fact, this cost issue is the only thing that HotD 3 on the PC really offers. Once you shell out twenty quid you can play this game as often as you like. Which, if you are similarly afflicted to Leonard in Memento, could be a realistic way of passing long days alone at home.
There's the semblance of a plot, concerning a secret project gone bad, the daughter of one of that project's scientists and a shitload of zombies. Blah, blah, blah. You may want to watch the cutscenes if you have bought the game and are trying to justify the expense, otherwise they are utterly forgettable and redundant. It is an arcade conversion after all. The graphics aren't too bad. Some of the environments are impressive in their scope and there's plenty of variety to the undead creatures you have to blow away. The crispness of the PC's high resolution isn't let down by terrible texturing and it's certainly a very colourful game. There's plenty of gore if you so choose, although it is rather cartoony and the wounds on the zombies look more like exploded raspberries than gunshot wounds. The animation isn't so hot, especially of the central characters, which move like marionettes with bowel control issues. The zombies are pretty much confined to shuffling or flinging themselves at you so a half-arsed attempt at animation works perfectly well for them. If it wasn't for the listless animation and the insistence on all the text to look horrible then HotD 3 would be nudging a B grade for its visuals.
But there's no way you can escape the sheer drudgery of its gameplay. On the plus side, you can happily play this game with a beer in your hand if you are using the mouse. And it would probably be quite a bit more fun if you had one of the nine lightguns that have been sold to PC users. And it won't take you for ever to play through. On the minus side of things, this is little more than computerised whack-a-mole. I've played flash games with more to them than this. It's ridiculously easy with the mouse, unplayable with just the keyboard and somewhere in the unhappy middle if you use a gamepad. Without the lightgun there really is no gameplay. It's just click, click, click, r-click to reload, click click on to infinity. Occasionally there are bosses to kill, which means blasting away at the same weak spot until they go away. You'll often come across other humans to save. Manage to kill the baddies surrounding them in time and you get some extra life. And that's pretty much all there is to it. You could conceivably see everything the game has to offer in under an hours play time. There's a Time Attack mode to challenge yourself with, if you really are that way inclined.
Now, if you do have a lightgun, a big telly and were the recent recipient of some brain surgery from Dr. Nick, then by all means go and buy House of the Dead 3. If you have more money than you know what to do with then you could buy this and pass away an hour or two of time you could otherwise spend worrying about taxes and morality. If neither of these two examples applies to you, then give this game a big swerve. Swerve on down to the arcades and play one of the multitude of lightgun games. Go and spend 15 pounds there if you are feeling flush. Then spend the rest on a couple of pints. A more sensible way to enjoy some gaming than spending your cash on this extraneous title.