Check out our video review:
When it comes to rail shooters/light gun games, I think The House of the Dead is a genre staple. I think if you enjoy the genre, you should play at least one of these games. I own The House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return for Wii and after playing The House of the Dead 2, I decided to play The House of the Dead III for PlayStation 3 because I read it’s a better port of the arcade game. Developed by Wow Entertainment and published by Sega, The House of the Dead III was released as an arcade game in 2002. It was ported to Xbox that same year, PC in 2005, and PlayStation 3 in 2012. And this version does support PlayStation Move. Like its predecessors, The House of the Dead III is a cheesy game that revolves around blowing away hordes of enemies.
In 2019, former AMS agent Thomas Rogan infiltrates a Research Facility owned by Dr. Roy Curien. His team is wiped out and contact with him his lost. Weeks later, his daughter Lisa and his former partner G arrive to find him and of course, the facility is overrun with creatures or zombies trying to kill them. I’d like to mention that I’m aware the developers avoided using the term “zombies” to refer to enemies but I use it because it’s just an easy way to describe them. Throughout the story are flashbacks that reveal Curien’s motivation for developing the mutation resulting in the first outbreak. There are multiple endings and the voice acting is awful but not as bad as that of The House of the Dead 2 which I found disappointing because it’s not as humorous.
The House of the Dead III is a light gun/rail shooter game that supports up to two players. All you have to do is point at the screen and shoot. You can play with the PlayStation 3 controller or Motion Controller and even use the Sharp Shooter. The playable characters are equipped with shotguns and if using the Motion Controller, you shake it to reload which kind of sucks in my opinion. If you use the Sharp Shooter, you can pump it to reload. When you’re out of ammo, your character will reload automatically but timing your reloads is somewhat important because it’s easy to get attacked during one.
The House of the Dead III includes multiple game modes and difficulty levels. You can play through the game in Free Play or Ranked Play. In both, you can select the game mode, chapter, and blood color. There’s two game modes; Survival and Time Attack. Survival is like the normal game. You progress through stages killing enemies while trying not to die. In Time Attack, you want to kill all of the enemies before the timer reaches zero. Killing enemies rewards you with extra time but taking hits results in losing time. Once the timer reaches zero, it’s game over. In Free Play, you can adjust additional options like how much health and how many credits you start with, the difficulty, and the violence level. Ranked Play supports online rankings and you don’t have any credits which can make the experience quite difficult. Ranked Play Survival and Time Attack will really test your skills. Free Play Survival is much more forgiving and accessible. You can unlock additional difficulty levels and Extra Content which is just a behind-the-scenes interview with the director and producer.
Survival and Time Attack are the only two game modes. Unfortunately, there’s nothing like the Original mode in the PC and console versions of The House of the Dead 2. The game plays just like that of the previous games. Your character moves automatically and you want to blow away all the enemies in your way. This is an arcade game so chasing high scores adds some replay value if you’re into that kind of thing. Killing enemies rewards you with points and you can shoot objects to destroy them and they’ll sometimes reveal items you can acquire like items that grant you extra points and health. Your partner will sometimes require help and shooting the enemies before they attack G or Lisa will reward you with health. You are ranked at the end of stages and the ending you see will depend on your rankings among some other things.
The stages are filled with plenty of enemies trying to kill you and you’re usually always outnumbered. Enemies will rush you, throw things at you, some like to move fast and jump around, others can crawl along ceilings, and you’ll often enter areas or turn to face directions where you’re immediately face to face with foes so good aim and quick reaction times are the keys to getting through stages unscathed. The weak point for most enemies is the head and every stage contains a boss with their own weak points. We do feel that some of the boss battles drag on a bit.
The House of the Dead III is a short game consisting of six chapters or stages. You can beat it in under an hour. Most stages include different routes and you select the route before starting the stage. The routes add some replay value to the game and certain areas within stages can differ depending on the route you take. The game is set in a Research Facility so you move through different areas within the facility like a parking garage, BIO Lab, and the Information Systems department. Breakable objects are scattered around everywhere and it can be easy to miss them so you have to be aware of your surroundings.
For a game released in 2002, The House of the Dead III looks pretty good. It certainly looks better than its predecessors. You’ll move through a good variety of areas, the character models look decent, and the visual and gore effects make the gunplay feel satisfying. Enemies bleed when shot, you can blow chunks off their bodies, blow their limbs off, and put holes in them. The dark atmosphere, violence, and gore is accompanied by decent audio work. The soundtrack is okay and enemies will grunt and groan. I feel like your shotgun should sound more powerful and if you fire rapidly, the sounds of shots are cut off. On the technical side, we did not encounter any issues.
We had fun with The House of the Dead III but we don’t think it’s as good as the previous game. Specifically, the PC and console ports. Personally, I prefer the dark and grim European setting over the dark and gloomy Research Facility and I really enjoyed the Original mode and all the unlockable content in 2. I feel like it had more replay value. That’s not to say The House of the Dead III is a bad game because it’s not. It’s actually pretty good. It is more enjoyable when you have someone to play with and it’s both accessible and challenging. In our experience, The Free Play mode is easy to get through, even on the hardest difficulty thanks to being able to determine how much health and how many credits you start with. It’s the Ranked Play Survival and Time Attack modes that offer a real challenge. Ultimately, The House of the Dead III is a great rail shooter.
We would absolutely recommend The House of the Dead III to fans of the series and the genre. I don’t know why they didn’t port The House of the Dead 2 to PS3 because I would love to play that game with the Sharp Shooter but The House of the Dead III is a great rail shooter for the system and plays great with PlayStation Move. You can buy it from the PlayStation store for seven bucks and I would say it’s certainly worth it. You can also spend thirty bucks on The House of the Dead Bundle and get 3, 4, and Overkill which is one of the greatest rail shooters to ever grace home consoles. If you’re looking for a good rail shooter that supports PlayStation Move, definitely check out The House of the Dead III.