REVIEW – The House of the Dead 4 (PS3)

Automatic Uzi

If you have not wandered into a Gameworks within the last few years, chances are you have never played The House of the Dead 4.  Like the previously released HotD3, HotD4 is properly priced, received a higher def make over, added a couple extra bells and whistles, and brings an arcade lightgun experience to your living room.

Just like all the other games in the series, shooting enemies into a bloody mess is the highlighting feature wrapped around a nonsensical plotline.  Using a PS Move controller is the preferred way to play but using the standard controller isn’t a bad option either.  However, controller users are at a slight disadvantage simply because shooting the rare background collectables are difficult targets to hit thanks to the often fast moving on-rails camera.  There is also no option to invert the cursor control.

After the 30 minute campaign is completed, SP mode becomes unlocked which is a two-stage  side story that continues where the main campaign left off.  It really isn’t anything special but fans will surely appreciate the extra effort and extra content.  Some stages offer branching paths and there are a few different unlockable endings which can warrant a couple play-throughs, but again, players will not be sticking around because of the plot.

It is also worth noting that many options can be changed like the amount of lives, difficulty, and players can even start on specific stages instead of proceeding in sequential order.  There is also an online leaderboard option but getting scores actually posted is quite a challenge since the player must actually complete each stage with limited health/continues.  If you don’t complete a stage, no score will be posted to the leaderboard.

The House of the Dead 4 always keeps the action straightforward and in the spotlight.  There are no extra guns minus the default automatic uzi; just hold the trigger to shoot as opposed to targeted individual trigger pulls.  This makes it easier on the trigger finger but also removes any sense of strategy or depth.  Unlike other titles in this long running series, this latest PSN release focuses on overwhelming the player with many on screen enemies so using the standard automatic bullet spraying technique is all that is needed to handle the crowd control.  It is mindless fun that is entertaining in 20 minute bursts especially with a buddy at your side.

Besides the SP mode, a developer commentary video is unlocked via the main menu screen, providing insight to the game’s origins.  While this extra feature is welcomed, I would have preferred this video to be optional download via the PSN store as opposed to having it built into the game itself.  Why?  Well, HotD4 is over 4gb in file size so it will undoubtedly take up precious space on smaller PS3 harddrives.  Since this video was shot in high def, I would image that a decent chunk of the file size is due to this video.

Like the recently released HotD3, the limited options and straightforward linear nature of the gameplay will not keep players entertained for long; this is an arcade port after all.  Even if you are lucky enough to find this game in a local arcade, it would cost well over $10 to play through it in its entirety.  This is the easy way to play this hard-to-find game at a reasonable price.  And it is fun while it lasts.

7/10

Better Than: House of the Dead 3

Also Try: Point Blank

Wait For It: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles HD

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