The House of the Dead III
|The House of the Dead III|
Arcade flyer for The House of the Dead III.
|Distributor(s)||Infogrames (PAL, Xbox port only)|
|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 protagonist is Lisa Rogan, daughter of Thomas Rogan, the first game's main character, and players control Lisa (player 1) or G (player 2) During the final stage, players control Daniel Curien as a Player 2 character.
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Setting and characters
The game is set in post-apocalyptic 2019, twenty one years after the initial zombie outbreak of the Curien Mansion in the original The House of the Dead. As revealed in The House of the Dead 4, the zombie infestation has spread all over the world, reducing the world into desolation with the civilization collapsing. The EFI Facility Center, a research facility owned by Dr. Roy Curien, serves as the main setting of the story.
The main characters of the game are Lisa Rogan, the 19-year-old daughter of Thomas Rogan, who searches for her father's whereabouts after his disappearance in the EFI facility; and G, an old partner of Rogan who accompanied him during his original assignment of the Curien Mansion investigation. Rogan himself is a playable character in a brief prologue segment. Other characters include Daniel, Curien's son whose diagnosis with terminal illness eventually became Curien's primary motivation to develop the zombie mutation; Dan Taylor, a member of Rogan's commando who assists him in the prologue segment of the game; and The Wheel of Fate, a cyborg with electrokinesis abilities who is actually Curien himself, resurrected after his death at the hands of his masterpiece, The Magician.
In 2019, 13 years later after the events of The House of the Dead 4, a military commando led by retired AMS agent Thomas Rogan infiltrates Curien's EFI Facility Center to investigate what led to the world's collapse. During the mission, his entire team is killed, until he and his second-in-command, Dan Taylor are left. When they manage to find their answer, Death, a gigantic mutant who serves as the facility's security guard, kills Taylor and injures Rogan. While fighting to stay alive, a man in a corporate attire offers his help. Contact with him is lost.
Two weeks later, Rogan's daughter, Lisa, arrives the facility to rescue him, accompanied by semi-retired agent G, Rogan's former partner. While navigating through the facility, they have to fend off against hordes of undead creatures. They are twice met by Death. Later, they encounter a deformed sloth, The Fool, and a mutated tendril-plant named The Sun. Along the way, Lisa muses to G how she has to live in the shadows of her well-known father and that she is often the subject of his comparison.
Throughout the game, flashbacks reveal Curien's motivation in his obsession of studying matters of life and death that resulted in him triggering the Curien Mansion's outbreak back in 1998; he was desperate in searching for a cure to treat his son, Daniel, who is suffering from a terminal illness. His increasingly unethical methods led him to believe he would be able to change the world for a better future by developing the mutation.
After more fights, Lisa and G reunite with Rogan, who is under the care of Daniel Curien, the latter lamenting his father's experiments that destroyed the world. Daniel reveals that after his father's death by The Magician, his body underwent a 19-year resurrection process. While G gets Rogan to safety, Daniel and Lisa form an alliance to destroy Curien's newly resurrected cyborg-like body with electrokinetic abilities, known as the The Wheel of Fate. When they reach the place of their final enemy, Daniel reveals that he hacked the program to prevent the Wheel of Fate from being released and destroying the world, saying that the future belongs to the people who are still alive and fighting. The two fight and manage to defeat the Wheel of Fate, which explodes.
The game has four endings, each played depending on the player's performance in the game.
The first ending sees Daniel, G, Lisa, and Rogan, leaving the facility, with Daniel stating that he will not let his father's efforts go to waste. The second ending is essentially the same, except that Daniel loses the will to go on and reveals that his father's medication has mutated him into a zombie in front of the horrified Lisa. The third ending is more comedic, with Daniel and Lisa discovering that a zombie had stolen Lisa and G's van and deciding to go after it. The fourth ending shows a mysterious man in a business suit picking one of Curien's vials, muttering that Curien did not understand its true purpose.
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 an extra 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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