Review: House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut (PS3)

By Wayne Webb

SEGA’s House of the Dead series is one of the publisher’s enduring legacies from the old coin-op days and the history is well-preserved here in the latest edition of the point and shoot zombie extravaganza.

The main attraction of this is the presentation of a Grindhouse classic cinema style. There are clichéd cops and villains, strippers and truckers and hordes of the undead to shoot your way through. Its design is like a 70’s film, with grainy and flawed marks on the screen, intermission signs and the cheesiest of tag lines and introductions to go with it.

Zombies are the order of the day and this is an unashamed story that does not pretend to be anything other than what it is – an excuse to point and shoot at things. When you connect with a target you get gritty explosions of blood, gore and flesh dripping on your screen. As you get to know the clichéd characters you get stilted lines, bad acting and enough well-drawn titillation and blood to make Quentin Tarantino proud. 

But there are problems, and they surface fast. Control is given over to the games on the rails progression. This is an outdated and unnecessary style of gameplay, even if this is a classic coin-op franchise. It’s just not as fun as it used to be. And the accuracy is lacking – a lot. At first playing with just a controller it seems slow to move around and often you miss what you are aiming for in the pace of the game. Switch up to the Move controller and you’d expect better accuracy and response. While that is true to some extent, it highlights the lack of accuracy in the game itself. Shots you can see clearly hitting the head, do not result in the head shot splatter. Glancing blows to arms and legs often have far greater impact than they should.  Once you realize this you stop trying to be good and you just go for volume and shoot wildly because it has the same affect, but dilutes the skill factor needed to initiate kills.. Later levels often mean you can grind through enemies tiringly working down the health of a boss you can’t take down with direct shots.

It’s still fun to play, but it’s not the kind that you will spend long hours on out of sheer joy for the game. It’s more like a well thought out distraction of a game. Beautifully presented but a shallow experience. 

Pros: Funny, well plotted, a homage to grindhouse cinema, satisfyingly gory explosions
Cons: Dated game play, occasional grinding, and inaccurate aiming.

2.5 Shacks Out of 5

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