Check out our video review:
The House of the Dead is one of the more popular light gun franchises. I’ve never played the first game but I have played some of the sequels and spin-offs and Overkill is easily my favorite game in the series. Developed by Wow Entertainment and published by Sega, The House of the Dead 2 was released as an arcade game in 1998. It was ported to Dreamcast in 1999, PC in 2001, and Wii in 2008. The Wii version is part of The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return collection and this is the version we played for this review.
The story is set after the events of the first game. G has gone missing in Venice, Italy where zombies or creatures have broken out. AMS Agents James Taylor, Gary Stewart, Amy Crystal, and Harry Harris are dispatched to investigate. At this point in time, I think it’s well known that The House of the Dead 2 has some of the worst voice acting in video game history. Every delivery is awful but on the plus side, the dialogue is always amusing as a result. The House of the Dead 2 is a short game but there are branching paths and multiple endings so you’ll have to play through it multiple times to see everything it has to offer.
The House of the Dead 2 is a rail shooter so your character moves automatically. Like other games in the genre, you point at the screen and shoot enemies. To reload, you have to aim off-screen. The game does support up to two players and comes with a good amount of options to mess around with. You can set the color of blood to red or green, change the crosshair style, calibrate your controls, and set the amount of lives and credits. Each character has a set amount of health. When you take damage or shoot a civilian, you lose health. Once you lose all your health is lost, you have the option to consume a continue to keep playing.
The Arcade mode is basically a recreation of the arcade game. Both playable characters are equipped with a pistol and you move through levels gunning down tons of enemies earning points in the process. Saving people and shooting certain things rewards you with extra points. Scattered throughout the levels are breakable objects that can reveal items like health and diamonds when broken. The game can be challenging and requires good aim and reaction times. You don’t always have a lot of time to notice everything around you so it can be easy to miss objects and shoot civilians. You can unlock extra continues in this mode to make subsequent playthroughs easier.
The Original mode is exclusive to the PC and console versions of the game. This mode allows you to select bonuses before a playthrough. As you play through the game, you’ll come across items that you can acquire and they can be selected on your next playthrough. These items include things like costumes, extra credits, different weapons, increased ammo, and more powerful ammo, among other things. This mode is great if you’re looking to mix things up and has a lot of replay value.
In addition to the Arcade and Original modes are the Training and Boss modes. The Training mode offers a bunch of scenarios to complete. You have to meet certain conditions like shoot all of the enemies with limited ammo, shoot all barrels, and some of them will really test your skills. There’s one where you have to shoot enemies on cars and I was stuck on it for around thirty minutes. They’re all trial and error. The Boss mode lets you fight every boss and the goal is to set record times. Both the Training and Boss modes allow you complete each scenario on multiple difficulty levels.
In the Arcade and Original modes, enemies are thrown at you around every corner and more are thrown at you in two player. Enemies will rush you, throw things at you, some can deflect your shots, and you’re usually always outnumbered. Most enemies are humanoid in appearance but every now and then you’ll have to engage smaller types like Murrers and Mofish. Enemies can appear from anywhere and the further you progress, the more challenging things get. Some enemies move fast and jump around and others can teleport. You can have one enemy throwing things at you while others are rushing you. You’ll need to learn what enemies to prioritize. The head is the weak point for most foes and you’ll want to be mindful of reloading because you can easily get attacked during a reload. Accuracy and knowing when to shoot are important. Every level ends with a boss which have their own weak points and attack patterns.
The branching paths is one of the highlights of the game. Certain factors determine which paths you take. Saving a civilian can grant you access to one path but letting him or her die will grant you access to another. Civilians can also reward you with health. Taking a different path will not only take you to different areas of a level but it can also affect the boss battle. The game plays out in chapters and each chapter takes you to different areas. You’ll get to ride in a car and boat and you’ll blow away enemies on the streets, in a dungeon, library, and coliseum. Each level has numerous areas and you can’t visit them all in a single run.
The House of the Dead 2 looked pretty good for its time and the Wii port doesn’t look too bad. It obviously looks dated now but I do enjoy some of the visual and gore effects. The visual presentation showcases a somewhat grim world with gritty environments. Although, the upbeat and catchy music and hilariously bad voice acting lighten up the mood a bit. Bullet impacts on surfaces result in sparks flying through the air, explosions look good, you can blow off enemy limbs, and you actually put holes in their bodies. The gore effects help make blowing away enemies feel rewarding and satisfying. The sounds of weapons fire and reloading are good, enemies will grunt and groan, and as mentioned before the soundtrack contains some catchy tunes. On the technical side, we did notice the frame rate dip occasionally but for the most part, it was a smooth experience.
We really enjoyed The House of the Dead 2. The violence and gore make for some satisfying action and some of the dialogue had us laughing. The voice acting is so bad to the point of humorous and it contrasts the grim world and violent action but in a good way. The House of the Dead 2 is a very cheesy and charming experience. It’s a short game but the replay value and multiple game modes kind of make up for it. The Original mode is a lot of fun thanks to all the bonuses. It adds more variety to the gameplay which can be a nice change of pace if coming off the Arcade mode. Also, the game offers a decent amount of unlockable content. The House of the Dead 2 gives you plenty of reasons to return and it can be enjoyed solo or with a friend.
We would absolutely recommend The House of the Dead 2 to anyone. It’s a classic. In fact, we think it’s one of the best rail shooters on the Wii. Plus, if you get it, you also get The House of the Dead 3. You can find The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return for pretty cheap as of this review so if you’re looking for a fun arcade rail shooter that lets you blow away tons of enemies, definitely check this out.