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If you like the idea of blowing away zombies, I would suggest you check out The House of the Dead series. The main games were released in arcades as light gun games. Many of them were ported to consoles so you can actually shoot zombies with fake guns in the comfort of your own home. Developed by Wow Entertainment and published by Sega, The House of the Dead 4 was released as an arcade game in 2005. It was ported to PlayStation 3 in 2012 and does support PlayStation Move.
The story is set after the events of The House of the Dead 2 but before III. AMS Agents James Taylor and Kate Green get trapped in a building after the walls collapse as a result of an earthquake. The building is eventually overrun with creatures or zombies and the two agents have to fight to survive. You can unlock the The House of the Dead 4 SP or Special which acts as a separate story and only contains two chapters. It was a separate arcade game and what it made it special was that it was more like a ride that could spin around and shake. Obviously, that’s not easy to replicate on a console so it feels more like an expansion. The story here takes place right where 4 left off. Kate meets up with G and together they continue to fight the zombies. There are multiple endings for both stories and, as expected, the voice acting is terrible with campy dialogue. But, like The House of the Dead III, the voice work is not as bad or as humorous as that of The House of the Dead 2.
The controls for The House of the Dead 4 are basically identical to that of III. You can play with the PS3 controller, Motion Controller, and even use the sharp shooter. Since this is a light gun game, I would suggest using the Motion Controller. The game supports up to two players and the characters move automatically. You just point at the screen and shoot and you can press a button to throw a grenade. Each character is equipped with a submachine gun and you shake the Motion Controller to reload which actually works a lot better than it did in the previous game. If using the Sharp Shooter, you pump it to reload.
If you’ve played the previous games, most of what you experience in 4 isn’t anything new. But it’s still fun. If you liked those games, you’ll like this one. The game does introduce some new mechanics like shaking to interact with things and grenades. You’ll be required to shake the Motion Controller to push enemies away and to complete certain actions. It does get annoying after a while especially because you have to shake the controller to reload as well. You’ll even have to shake the Sharp Shooter. The grenades, however, are a much more welcome addition. You have a limited amount and can throw them to blow up enemies. They’re great for clearing out mobs.
As you move through the environments and mow down foes, you’ll have the opportunity to shoot pickups like health and grenades and items that grant you extra points. There are objects scattered around the environments that you can shoot to break and they will reveal pickups but you have to be quick because it can be easy to miss them. The basic objective of each chapter or stage is to get to the end and defeat the boss. The House of the Dead 4 is an arcade game so you can chase high scores. Killing enemies rewards you with points and you are ranked at the end of chapters. Your performance does determine which ending you see.
You can play through the game in Free Play or Ranked Play. Both allow you to select the story, chapter, and change the blood color. Ranked Play supports online rankings and in Free Play, you can set how much health and how many credits you start with, and change the difficulty and violence level. Ranked Play doesn’t give you any credits which makes it quite challenging. Free Play is much more accessible. Even on the hardest difficulty, if you max out your health and credits, you can easily get through the game without too much trouble. Beating the The House of the Dead 4 story does unlock the Special story and you can also unlock additional difficulty modes and Extra Content which is just a behind-the-scenes interview with the director and producer.
Many of the enemies from the previous games make a return in 4 along with some new ones. Some rush you, others jump around, some throw things at you, and others can fly. Some can even grab you and knock you down. You’ll engage small types here and there, you’re always outnumbered, and you’re going to be up against a lot of mobs so grenades will often come in handy. Good aim and quick reaction times are required to get through chapters unscathed and playing with a friend can make the experience easier. Every stage ends with a boss that has its own weak point and attack patterns. To obtain the best scores, you will want to replay through chapters and shoot all the bonus point pickups. Memorization of enemies, their placements, and boss patterns will also be beneficial and are basically required to get through the game in Ranked Play.
The House of the Dead 4 is a short game consisting of only six chapters. The Special story adds two more and you can beat both stories in under an hour. The game does feature branching paths and at certain points you’ll have the option to select which route to take. You’ll blast foes away in an office building, sewers, in the subway, on the streets, and even visit some familiar locations. Once you clear out an area of enemies, you automatically move to the next area. Breakable objects can often be found in the backgrounds and if you’re quick enough, you can shoot them and acquire any pickups they house before getting attacked. You can even shoot explosive barrels.
The House of the Dead 4 does look better than its predecessors but it appears to have abandoned the cartoony violence for a more gritty style. Enemies still bleed and you can blow their flesh off but you won’t be blowing any holes in them which is kind of a disappointing. Still, the gunplay does feel satisfying thanks to the visual effects like the smoke and particles that fill the air when enemies are shot and killed. The game is presented in a widescreen resolution and the character and enemy models look pretty good for the time this released. The House of the Dead 4 does feel grittier than the previous entries and does have a washed out look. Each chapter takes you to a different location and the environments are detailed. The soundtrack is decent, I think your guns could sound a little more powerful, and enemies grunt and groan as you shoot and kill them. On the technical side, the frame rate does dip from time to time but it never hindered the gameplay.
We really enjoyed The House of the Dead 4. I liked it a lot better than III. All the shaking gets to be a little much but, overall, it’s a great rail shooter. The grenades can be helpful and blowing up mobs of foes is satisfying. The House of the Dead 4 shouldn’t take you long to beat and like III, it doesn’t have a lot of unlockable content so the replay value comes from chasing high scores, the different routes, and the multiple difficulties and endings. The Special story more or less extends the length of the game but not by much. On the plus side, the game is accessible but can also be challenging. You can blast through it easily in Free Play or test your skills in Ranked Play and the experience is even more enjoyable if you have a buddy to play with.
We would definitely recommend The House of the Dead 4 to fans of the series and genre. Most of what’s here has been done before but it’s still a fun time. If you’re looking for a good rail shooter that supports PlayStation Move, The House of the Dead 4 is definitely a game you should check it out.