The House of the Dead 4 proves that the light gun experience remains fun to this day. Back in late 2005, this game saw the light of day in arcades. Now, Sega has taken to re-release classic arcade games on the PSN (Daytona USA and House of the Dead 3 being the ones before) and their newest endeavor is none other than HOtD4, making its first appearance on consoles, and in this case the PS3. But, is this the game you all remember from the arcades?
House of the Dead 4 takes place between HOtD2 and 3, even though it bears the number four. Players will take control of either James Taylor, from HOtD2, or Kate Green, a new character to the series. The story makes little to no sense, but that has never been the reason to play these games. As James or Kate, you battle your way to Goldman, a man who believes that the human race has reproduced more than it ever was intended to and that he must put things back in order.
House of the Dead has always delivered fast pace light gun action, and that doesn’t falter here. The game includes the full arcade experience and two additional chapters out of HotD4 Special, which take place immediately after HotD4, and see Kate teaming up with a series favorite, Agent G, to destroy a bunch of more zombies. Add to this online leader boards, HD visuals, and Move support, and you’ve got yourself quite the robust package. Feature wise, it only fails at not including any sort of online co-op, which is quite the missed opportunity.
HOTD4 gives you the option of playing either with the Move or a standard controller. Both prove serviceable (although the standard controller proves to be sluggish), but the clear winner is the Move controller. With the Move, a variety of option open up: you can use the Move by itself, or attach it to the Sharp Shooter (or other gun peripherals), providing the most authentic experience with the game, almost as if you were back at the arcade. The Move is tracked perfectly — no skips or lag whatsoever.
Other than pointing and shooting your gun, there are a few actions you’ll have to perform as you make your way through the game. In this version of the game, instead of pointing and shooting of the screen to reload, you have to shake the Move controller downwards. Shaking is also used several other times throughout the game, be it to shake off a zombie, open a door, etc. Problems start to crop up because of this. Sometimes the Move will fail to recognize you have shaken it and your character will just stand there with an empty clip. This can prove frustrating in the more hectic scenarios of the game.
In addition to your micro Uzi, players can carry up to three grenades, which prove handy when you find yourself overrun. Sadly, the Uzi is the only weapon available in the game, which proves perfect when it comes to mowing down hordes of zombies, but annoying if you’re trying to score head shots, which the game so happens to keep track of. More weapon variety would’ve been nice.
The game, like past HOtD adventures, is a short one, offering up six stages of pure zombie massacre. That said, your time may vary depending if you activate additional lives or not. It’s a nice touch that permits newcomers to enjoy the entirety of the game without having to restart over and over, while also letting veterans have that classic experience they remember from the arcade. Some of these levels, however, include branching paths, making it necessary to play the game multiple times if you want to see all it has to offer. Each stage is short, only lasting around fifteen minutes, and they all end with a massive boss battle, tasking you with finding the weak spot and emptying your cartridges into it.
All in all, HOtD4 is a very well done port of an arcade classic. It walks the fine line between accessible and true to the original experience rather well, and the ability for a friend to drop into your session for co-op action is great. It maintains the same visuals it did in 2005, although the HD revamp helps make it look sharper and cleaner, and it provides ample control options. Although the Move doesn’t provide a 100% accurate experience and the standard controls, although serviceable, are rather sluggish, and the lack of weapon variety is a sad oversight, the game still proves to be a fun, zombie-killing romp well worth your money.
Thanks to SEGA and Triplepoint for providing a copy for review.