The House of the Dead 4 HD
SEGA’s zombie horror arcade series ‘The House of the Dead’ made it’s way from being a light-gun shooter in the arcades to the PSN store with Playstation Move support. The House of the Dead 4 brings that experience to the Playstation 3, retaining all of it’s arcade roots and goodness whilst extending a little bit further with online leaderboard features and some extra content. Don’t expect anything else, but do expect that same experience and story you found at the arcades all those years ago and even up to this day.
Being a port of the arcade game that was produced in 2006, it’s no wonder why the visuals aren’t anything special – the graphics are dated, the zombies aren’t detailed and look quite silly and just doesn’t create that scare factor. Although the visuals should have been bumped up in the process, I can say the improvements are marginal at best. It won’t look any different to that 6 years ago. That’s not to mean it’s a bad thing – the game was retro and it retains that same feel from before. The game doesn’t try to capture that horror element like many do today but instead draws on early concepts of how zombies would look like and populates the screen with damage effects and other dynamics that you never look too much into how they look like, but rather how good it is to sweep the screen clean.
There’s a variety of zombies and mutant creatures you’ll come across such as that shown above, some beer-belly zombies and even some ninja mutants that are hard to believe. Another even looks like it rolled in a bed of seaweed for hours – some designs look quite humorous actually and are enjoyable in that respect. It’s never a game that takes itself seriously (you can tell when the characters seem like it’s a stroll in the park) and that’s a great thing because it suits it perfectly.
The bosses are huge in size and unique, making each instance and experience different – being chased in the sewers by Justice whilst aiming for it’s tongue to shooting down on a ridiculously sized arachnid and it’s millions of eyes. They’re nothing too strenous but enough to keep you focused and tentative to get the job done. You’ll pretty much experience this in 6 chapters though can safely say each experience is different. Cutscenes stitch each chapter together, filling in the gaps to connect the overall storyline of the game. The cutscenes are relatively short and in-game though do the job with sufficient voice-acting, though lack depth in emotions when it’s warranted.
Around the levels you can shoot certain objects for grenade bonuses and points to your final score. You’ll find your performance will be ranked for each kill and thus award you points based on the quality of your performance. Netting mostly perfect scenes throughout the level will award you with a final Rank A/A+ whilst being inaccurate and reckless will find you with a lower Rank D/E. These scores are recorded for each chapter and contribute to your final game score that can be compared online.
The game allows you to play with a standard dualshock controller as well as the Playstation Move – the traditional method is pretty accurate and works decent though is nowhere near as exciting as using the Move and a gun attachment. The Move is responsive, accurate and far more enjoyable to use. There were no hitches in framerates at all during playtime nor any freezing which is a plus.
Having played the game on the arcade machines before, I’ve never been able to get past the second level after the huge disgusting monster ‘Justice’ in the sewers. Though best played with 2 players, you’ll still have a great time going solo. I’ve always wanted to progress further and find out more about the story behind it whilst being able to shoot different zombies in different environments.Now, the good thing about House of the Dead 4 for the PS3 is that arcade mode is customisable, allowing you to have plenty of lives and credits to go through.
Custom options include the colour of the blood when you shoot zombies, the level of gore you prefer, the chapter you want to start on and when using the move, the sensitivity of the crosshair and if you want it visible. For gamers like me that may not be the best of individuals, being able to change these settings means you can get further without spending pounds every time you see the ‘continue?’ screen. Whilst these settings are ‘standard’, in these games you appreciate the options more because the arcade experience is the bulk of the experience you get with this ported PSN game. There’s also several endings for you to watch – the good the bad and the true ending, making that several times you’ll want to play the game.
Outside of the usual arcade experience of 3 lives per game, you’ll find an online leaderboard which displays the highest scores around the world in the same arcade ranking fashion, staying true to the retro arcade look. It’ll also display the quality of their performance from ‘special agent’ to ‘rookie agent’. There’s nothing else from this so expect the arcade mode to be the big attraction. You’ll also find the House of the Dead 4 Special bundled which includes the rare episodes starring G and the infamous boss Magician – beat the game and it’s all yours to try and see.
The House of the Dead 4 HD is an on-rails zombie experience many would want to revisit, that nostalgic moment that you’ve always wanted to complete. Whilst the package is light on extras, the experience is solid and just what you would expect from the arcade version. Accompanying the game with the Playstation Move and a gun attachment makes the experience that much more immersive and enjoyable. I definitely found the Playstation Move to be responsive and accurate and hands down easier to work with. At a great price and being easily accessible for users familiar and new, it’s a port that’s done right. House of the Dead 4 HD definitely another reason why you should pick up that Playstation move controller again.