The House of the Dead 4 Review
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On 04/23/2012 at 10:42 PM by Nick DiMola
I didn’t even know The House of the Dead 4 Special was a thing that existed.
Only for fans of the series looking to round out their collection.
Despite the rest of The House of the Dead series making its way to consoles, The House of the Dead 4 has been left in the arcades – and perhaps rightfully so. With the introduction of the machine gun as the standard weapon, the once requisite precision aiming for this light gun series has been all but removed. That’s not to say that there’s no challenge or fun to be had with the latest arcade iteration of the series, but the experience pales in comparison to earlier editions.
Though the fourth game in the series, The House of the Dead 4’s story sits between 2 and 3 and recounts the events involving Kate Green and James Taylor. The quest starts with the two trapped underground, forced to make their way to the surface in order to escape a sizable zombie threat. Over the course of the game, the two eventually escape, only to discover that the city above has since been decimated, with all signs of the damage pointing back to the now dead Goldman.
Believe it or not, the groan-inducing story and dialog are a distinguishable step up from the two prior titles, though still lacking when compared to the B-movie-inspired Overkill. Thankfully the story plays a minor role in the overall scope of the game and the true attraction is gunning down massive numbers of zombies with your PlayStation Move.
While not a requirement to play, the PlayStation Move controller is absolutely necessary to enjoy the game - and it works extremely well. Both responsive and accurate, you’ll never be let down by the pointing device. Being an accessory, an unfortunate reality is that very few gamers will have access to two Move controllers, which significantly dimishes the experience. A second player can certainly grab a standard controller, but it’s definitely not the same.
Whatever way you decide to approach the game, you'll battle hordes of the undead through each and every area. With threats around every corner, you'll need to stay alert, eliminating the enemies before they or one of their projectiles can reach the screen. If you’ve ever played a light gun shooter before, this is pretty standard fare.
The inclusion of both the machine gun and the grenade differentiate this particular title from past iterations of the series. When used in tandem, the two are a potent combination that makes it a bit too mindless to eliminate a screen full of zombies. Once threatening, the undead are easily dispatched by spraying down every inch of the screen.
Axe zombies and toothed zombie leeches do manage to provide some challenge in spite of your weaponry, forcing a steadier hand and an accurate shot. Outside of these normal enemies, only the boss battles have a requisite degree of accuracy to succeed. Unsurprisingly, this is where the game truly shines; each of the boss battles are fast-paced, engaging spectacles that best the boss offerings of past titles.
One of the better battles places Kate and James on a speeding train, while a double-chainsaw wielding monster pursues them at an alarming rate. The dynamic fight is quite a bit of fun, requiring you to strike at the right moment with pinpoint accuracy. In this fight and most of the others, getting hit by the boss is seemingly inevitable. While understandable given the game’s arcade roots, it’s frustrating each and every time it happens.
Outside of the well-executed boss battles, the most surprising and welcome inclusion to this edition of the game is The House of the Dead 4 Special. It’s not likely that you’ve even heard of this title, as only a few units exist in the world, but the two-level quest is now easily accessible after completing the main story for the first time. Swapping James for Agent G, things pick up where the main quest left off, offering a similar experience with at least one new boss fight to conclude the bonus content.
Light gun shooters are inherently quick fun, short lifespan titles and The House of the Dead 4 is no exception. Though mildly entertaining, the zombie-laden experience doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessors, nor to the achievements of its successor Overkill, which is also available with Move support.