Well, apart from deserving awards for the most convoluted video game title in history, House of the Dead is actually a rollercoaster ride of blood-soaked fun.
House of the Dead : Overkill – Extended Cut is an on-the-rails shooter that first appeared on the Nintendo Wii a couple of years ago. Made to look and sound like a bad 70’s movie, the game will have the players dealing with an outbreak of mutants (Don’t use the “Z” word) masterminded by the deliciously evil, and surprisingly camp, Papa Caesar. The two characters who have to deal with this outbreak, and participate in some hilarious banter, are the enigmatic Agent G (”Are you gonna tell me what the G stands for?” – “No”), and the hardened street cop Isaac Washington. Playing as one of these characters, or both in two player, the player will be moved around various different locations whilst fighting off wave after wave of mutant, and dealing with some pretty time consuming boss battles.
Whilst the game can be played with the standard controller, the reason why it was so good on the Wii is due to the motion control, so playing with a PlayStation Move controller is really the only way to go. Gameplay is simplicity itself, requiring the player to point at the screen and pull the trigger to fire. The move button reloads and the x button can be used to throw grenades and such, should the player be lucky enough to find any.
The action moves pretty quickly and players will find themselves missing the abundance of collectibles and pick-ups that can be found throughout the locations. All manner of score boosting collectibles can be found, along with items such as piles of cash, health drops and slow motion activators. The cash can be used between levels to upgrade weapons, such as clip size or damage, or buying new weapons. The slow motion activators slow everything down for a short while, allowing the player to indulge in some particularly gruesome headshots and enjoy a satisfying shower of blood and gore.
At the end of each level, the player will be greeted with a boss battle, most of which are fairly lengthy and will see the boss immune to bullets until certain actions have been performed. The first time playing the game, the player will find that these battles tend to drag on a bit, as the player learns exactly how to make each boss vulnerable. But once that is learnt and with a little patience, the bosses can be easily overcome.
The same can be said for most of the game. It is not especially difficult. Dying doesn’t even raise any problems as the player can continue from where they left off after losing only half of the points accumulated in that level. However,the simplistic and satisfying gameplay ensures that players will be tempted back to try again and achieve a higher score, along with all of the collectibles that they no doubt missed the first time through. The game itself can be completed in a matter of just a few hours, but it is the sort of game that will be regularly revisited just to blow off some steam and have some no-brainer fun.
This PS3 version has a bunch of improvements and additions to make it a worthy purchase. Firstly, the textures have been improved, ensuring that the game looks good in full HD, whilst still offering that low-budget 70’s movie feel. The game is also playable in 3D, something that not everyone will be able to take advantage of, which is a shame as the effects are quite good. Watch for the Screamer at the end of the hospital level as she pulls a move that appears to have been taken from “The Ring” movie and leans out of the TV screen towards you.
The PS3 version has two new female playable characters, Varla Guns and Candy Stryper, who come with two brand new levels, one based in a slaughterhouse and one in a strip club of all places. The girls certainly add even more cheese to what is already an abundance of cheesy dialogue, and the extra levels are welcome in what is a fairly short game.
Depth is not something that HotD:O-EC can provide, but that is okay. There is a time and a place for games that require absolutely no brain power, and this game hits the spot when that time and place is reached. Much like the simple joy of kicking around a ball, there is something fundamentally satisfying about pointing at a screen and shooting stuff.
I can’t honestly say that House of the Dead is a good reason to go out and buy a Move controller. But if you already have one, then you owe it to yourself to buy this game. Multi-format gamers will have to think long and hard as to whether picking this up with its couple of extra levels and characters is worthwhile should they already own the Wii version. But whatever the reasoning, House of the Dead: Overkill – Extended Cut is an absolute blast, tapping into a primal enjoyment of shooting mutants and watching them explode.