The House of the Dead III
|The House of the Dead III|
Arcade flyer for The House of the Dead III.
|Series||The House of the Dead|
|Arcade system||Sega Chihiro|
The House of the Dead III is a 2002 light gun arcade game with a horror zombie-survival theme, and the third installment to the House of the Dead series of video games, developed by Wow Entertainment and Sega. It was later ported to the Xbox in 2003, Microsoft Windows in 2005, the Wii in 2008 in a compilation with The House of the Dead 2, and PlayStation 3 in 2012 with PlayStation Move support. The game continues the story of the previous games and introduces new gameplay concepts such as story branching. The game's main protagonist is Lisa Rogan, daughter of Thomas Rogan, the first game's main character, and players control Lisa, G, or Daniel Curien.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (March 2009)|
Set in post-apocalyptic 2019, civilization has long since collapsed. Retired AMS agent Thomas Rogan and his team of highly trained commandos investigate the EFI Research Facility, which may be linked to the disaster. Thomas' 19-year-old daughter, Lisa, and Rogan's former partner, G, also a former AMS agent, travel there two weeks later with shotguns in hand after contact with him is mysteriously lost.
Notorious for his role in the creation of the original undead horde, Dr. Curien's motives are explored through flashbacks. Several years before the Curien Mansion case, in an effort to discover the cure to his son Daniel's terminal illness, he began researching the nature of life and death. Over time however, he became obsessed with his research, as his experiments began taking gruesome and unethical turns. He planned to use it to change the future; this saw the first steps of the great doctor's descent into madness. Living in the shadow of her well-known father, Lisa muses with G about how she is often the subject of comparisons with her father as the two explore the facility, only to come into contact with undead creatures such as EFI's giant one-zombie security force Death, a giant deformed sloth known as The Fool, and a mutant tendril-plant known as The Sun.
At last, Lisa is reunited with Thomas, after which Daniel (as seen from the flashbacks at the beginning of every chapter) appears. He tells Lisa, Thomas and G that Dr. Curien was his father while Thomas tells the others that he saved his life. At this point, G leads Rogan to safety, leaving Daniel to accompany Lisa. The pair sets out to destroy The Wheel of Fate, a metallic humanoid surrounded by a spiked wheel and the final legacy of Dr. Curien (which began around the same time as the Magician project in the first game.) The genes of both the Magician and the Wheel of Fate, according to Curien, would change the future. After the scientist's death, he underwent a resurrection in the EFI research facility that would take nineteen years to complete. Daniel hacks the Wheel of Fate's programming, and together with Lisa, destroy it once and for all as a sign of their readiness to confront the uncertain future.
At the game's conclusion, Rogan and G are shown leaving the facility at night. Rogan thanks G for taking care of Lisa, but G denies it, saying that Lisa did a great job taking care of herself, and that she's starting to sound a lot like her father. One of four endings is then shown.
The game's standard ending shows Lisa and Daniel walking out. For a brief moment Daniel pauses to face the building and bid his father a final farewell, and swears he will not let his father's efforts go to waste. He also mentions that "If humans go down the wrong path again, I'll come back...to this place." Afterward, he and Lisa leave the facility together.
In the game's second and bad ending, Daniel begins to lose the will to move on, asking Lisa how he is supposed to live the rest of his life now that he has done what he has had to do. Despite (or maybe because of) the antidote that has cured his illness, a close up of Daniel's face (and an ominous change to the tone of his voice) reveals that he has become a zombie. Lisa screams in the background. It is uncertain what happens to her in this ending.
In the third and good ending, Lisa sees the car driving away, thinking that her father is leaving her and Daniel behind; however, Rogan and G are behind them, leaving Lisa and Daniel completely confused. It is then revealed that a zombie is driving away in it. Lisa begins to give chase after the stolen vehicle, Daniel is also seen briefly going after Lisa, due to the escaped zombie, he would infect more survivor in the future sequel.
In the fourth ending, a mysterious and unidentified man in a business suit (speculated to be Harry Harris from The House of the Dead 2), limps through the laboratory where the final battle with the Wheel of Fate took place. On the floor, he finds one of the small glass vials containing the genes used in Daniel's antidote. Limping on his right leg, he picks up the vial and leaves, saying to himself, "It appears that he didn't understand its true purpose." and chuckling evilly. This character also makes a cameo in the House of the Dead 4. The reason for why he is presumed by fans to be Harry Harris from the previous game is due to the apparent leg injury that the aforementioned character sustained in that game. Curiously, it can also be seen in cut-scenes following the battle with The Strength from The House of the Dead 2, that the injury sustained by Harry is to his right leg, similar to the now-dubbed 'Mystery Man'.
The House of the Dead III departs from the original games in many ways: the most obvious being weaponry. The former is immediately apparent upon playing the Xbox version. The shotgun used in the game no longer requires the traditional "point off-screen" reload, but rather reloads automatically. Reloading still takes time, but happens without prompt as soon as the gun needs it. The arcade version differs here, because there is the presence of light guns, allowing for similar speedy reloading. A reload is achieved by pumping the shotgun controller. While playing the game on Xbox, the light gun controller released by Madcatz may be used; however, the traditional "shoot off-screen" reload was reintroduced in the Wii version.
A branching storyline existed in the previous games, but was handled differently. In The House of the Dead III, the player is given options for navigating through the game prior to the start of most stages, ultimately going through the same areas with different results dependent on the order chosen.
Another important difference is the absence of civilians. Unlike the first two The House of the Dead games, in which players could rescue various people in peril, The House of the Dead III contains no extra personnel beyond those central to the plot. Instead, "Rescue Events" occur during each stage in which the player will need to rescue his or her partner from attacking zombies. An extra life is rewarded for each successful rescue. If all rescue events are successful, the players find crates in the room before the final boss that, when shot, drop a lot of bonuses and lives.
A new concept of the series comes in the form of a "Cancel" bar. In previous installments, the bosses' weak point would only need to be shot once to stun the attack. In this game, the bosses' weak point must be shot repeatedly to drain the "Cancel" bar and stop the enemy's attack.
Another major change to the gameplay comes in the form of a new rank and grade system. Players are now graded on how fast they dispose of the zombies, ranging from Excellent, Good, Faster, and Twin Shot, the last taking place if two zombies are killed with the same shotgun shell. A letter grade is also given at the end of each stage, ranging from S, A, B, C, D and E. Completing the stage with an A rank will award the player with one bonus life, while an S rank will reward the player with two. A final grade is given at the end of the game, and depending on how many S ranks were received for each stage, the player may be given a "SS" rank as his or her final grade.
Extra lives and bonus points are also handled differently. In the previous arcade installments, nothing would happen if a player had all five lives and gained another. Now the player can have up to nine lives at a time, and any additional lives are turned into bonus points. In the previous games, bonus points could also be gained by shooting hidden objects such as a golden frog, or coin. The House of the Dead III expands upon this, introducing a silver coin that can be shot repeatedly, a wind-up robot that must be shot several times, and a golden miniature version of recurring boss The Magician. Decaying zombies and weak points on stunned bosses can also be shot repeatedly for extra points.
On the Xbox, PC, PlayStation 3 and Wii versions, there is a "Time Attack" mode where the player's lives come in the form of a timer, starting at 45 seconds. Excellent, Good, Faster and Twin Shots give extra time, as do clocks in the background, successful rescue events and end-of-stage bonuses. Getting hit by a zombie subtracts 7 seconds, projectiles subtract 5, and bosses subtract 15. Stunning a boss grants the player 10 seconds. Every successful hit on the final boss also grants two seconds, and does not require a stun. The game cannot be continued if the timer reaches zero, and at the end of each game Dr. Curien gives his analysis of the player's performance. The player may also note the average distance at which they managed to hold back the undead in metres.
The early screens showed the game rendered with the technique of Cell Shading which made the game look like a color cartoon, characters even had black outlines. However, the idea was soon abandoned and the final product was rendered similar to the previous games with graphics aiming for realism.
The causes of abandonment are unknown, although it is assumed that the idea of a graphic “cartoon” in a game as violent as HOTD III would not satisfy the fans.
The game was met with average to mixed reviews upon release. GameRankings gave it a score of 70.72% for the Xbox version, 56.50% for the PC version, and 63.63% for the PlayStation 3 version. Likewise, Metacritic gave it a score of 72 out of 100 for the Xbox version and 64 out of 100 for the PS3 version.
The Cincinnati Enquirer gave the Xbox version a score of three-and-a-half stars out of five and praised it for "the ability to mow down multiple enemies at once, enhanced graphics, a variety of endings and new creatures." The Digital Fix gave the PS3 version a score of seven out of ten and called it "a fun game to blast through, especially in two player mode, and on the PS3 the game is as close to arcade perfection as you are ever likely to get.
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