House of The Dead

House of The Dead
Game Name: The House of The Dead
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): SEGA AM1 / Tantalus
Genre(s): Rail Shooter
Release Date: March 1998
Serial Number: MK81802-50 / Bundle With Virtua Gun: 81805
Region: PAL

The House of The Dead Menu ScreenshotHorror movies have always had multiple ways of scaring their audience. Directors have been able to rely on portraying a sense of tension and dread and making viewers jump when something suddenly happens.

Despite all kinds of tricks to help to immerse the viewer, what they’ve never been able to do is really immerse people with a sense of interaction, it’s very easy to sit and watch a movie, it’s quite different when it comes to putting someone in the experience and giving them responsibility over their survival. Enter the House of the Dead, SEGA’s first effort at combining horror with light gun action, which became a smash hit in the arcades in 1996.

As with Virtua Cop, The House of the Dead is a fairly on rails affair. Players are guided throughout the rollercoaster in a first person view picking off enemies as they go along and saving hostages.

The House of The Dead Cutscene Screenshot

As before, players have 6 bullets to fire off before having to reload, the latter being done by aiming away from the screen and firing. What really sets this game apart from Virtua Cop is the tension, AM2’s effort felt fairly pedestrian at times, picking off enemies with single shots while building accuracy by shooting enemy’s weapons out of their hands.

The House of the Dead is similar in gameplay to AM3’s Jurassic Park, you really feel like you’re fighting off opponents as the run towards the screen taking multiple shots on their way. It’s really satisfying picking off zombie’s body parts and finding multiple ways to decapitate them.

Following Virtua Cop’s layout, the player negotiates through stages of increasing difficulty with a boss confrontation at the end of each, including a tunnel encounter with a giant spider.

The House of The Dead Gameplay Screenshot

Graphically the arcade version did a great job of immersing the player. Areas were well detailed, and characters and zombies were well animated with plenty of variety between them. The Saturn version has sadly lost some of these great aspects in translation.

Despite moving just as smoothly, much of the detail has been lost, characters and enemies are rough looking and unconvincing, while the stages have lost a lot of detail in the translation. The blood and explosions look equally as gritty leading to the sense of immersion, something that the arcade version proudly had over Virtua Cop, being lost.

The sound is somewhat of a mixed bag. The organ sounding music that plays throughout suits the style of the game and cleverly matches the game’s pace helping to add to the game’s tension. Enemies produce a variety of sound effects which range from zombie groans to monster roars, sadly, the character dialogue really lets these aspects down. The voices are poorly scripted and implemented worse, it’s clear to see that the voices were recorded for the game without the actors having no idea of what role they were to play.

The House of The Dead Gameplay Boss Screen Shot

Despite the fun gameplay, as with most arcade titles it offers little in the longevity department. There’s four characters to choose from each complete with different weapons, lives and multiple routes to explore. However, once completed, the game can be very repetitive with few challenges, such as completing the game having rescued all hostages, to keep the player entertained.

SEGA, with the House of the Dead, have once again enhanced a genre they’re becoming very proficient at.

Nearly two years after Virtua Cop 2 however, you have to ask, are the advances enough?

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