Finally, rail shooter enthusiasts can finally bring home House of the Dead 4 this week, Sega’s last mainstay zombie shooter for arcades, for around $9.99, £6.49 or €7.99 depending on region. The port features standard Dual Shock 3 and Playstation Move support, leaderboards as well as a number of bonus features, including the entirety of House of the Dead 4 Special and an interview with the producer and director of the game.
The prequel to House of the Dead 3 features the return of agent James Taylor, now sporting a snazzy PDA and less awkward dialogue and newcomer Kate Green exploring the city to stop the tyrant Goldman’s dying wish to wipe out the human race. The game came out around 2005, the time that the next generation of games was kicking off. At the time, this usually meant increasing the character/object count on screen so there would be 80 zombies of one or two types with awkward character models and animations. It was also when motion controls were introduced to the series, where you shake the gun in order to break free from zombies strangling you, shake the gun to turn valves and shake the gun to break open gates. It’s waggle action made popular before Nintendo took that home on the Wii. Truly, HOTD4 is a game lost in an era of arcade games that were more or less dead, but given the options on how to play the game these days, especially for me, $10 is about a good enough bargain as any compared to buying a cabinet for House of the Dead 4 (Or hell, House of the Dead 4 Special, which was basically a tiny theater with two screens.)
For me, my only option was to play the game at Dave and Busters, and the arcade operators there could care less for the upkeep of maintaining the cabinet. Calibration was always off which meant the game was rendered unplayable, causing me to get grappled then curb stomped by zombies simply because I could not aim whatsoever. I could toss grenades at my feet, and somehow the shrapnel manages to miss the star agents and takes out maybe…half the zombies on screen.
All things considered, the game looks like a one to one port for the most part, although some of the cutscenes in Special seem to have some odd compression issues, some of the assets have been reported to have been up-rezzed to 720p properly. All the motion gimmicks have been mapped to both choices of control, and the Dual Shock mapping is pretty smart all things considered. The shoulder buttons have been mapped for fire and grenades, face buttons to reload, and the D-Pad or Left analog stick can be used to aim, complete with sensitivity options. It’s well rounded considering the game that is being represented here. Plus the game provides the option to start on any level on either version of the game, change credit variables, life points and other in-game options. Worth a look for those who are a fan of the series, the genre or looking for some excuse to bust out the Playstation Move controllers.