The House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Edition (PS3)
The original title The House of the Dead launched in arcades way back in 1997, debuting a year later on the Sega Saturn. It was a classic light-gun outing sharing many gameplay dynamics with the Virtua Cop franchise and sequels have arrived on various platforms including PC, Xbox, Wii and now PlayStation 3. Overkill Extended Edition is not a simple remake, the 2009 title which this game is based on was originally released for the Nintendo Wii and by all accounts it appears as though the game was remade from scratch for its PS3 debut.
For some reason there are no Zombies in the game, instead we are to refer to them as monsters and not use the Z-word. Perhaps Sega are avoiding trademark infringements but zombies, monsters, the undead, whatever we want to call them, that's what's on the menu today. In true hammer horror-esque style there's a ridiculous storyline with equally ridiculous characters which accompany them, even the menus have been overhauled and carry on 70's horror style theme throughout the whole game.
Agent 'G' and Det. Isaac Washington are the main characters in the title. A heavy cliché of two unsuited partners thrown together due to circumstances beyond their control, along the way they meet various characters both good and bad who each have their own role to play in the events that follow.
The game features nine missions, up from the seven available in the original release of Overkill and these additional levels are slotted in-between the existing missions fleshing out the story and introducing a new character, Candi Stryper. The missions are also littered with bonus materials to collect, such as audio tracks, comic book pages and 3D models with each article having an identifiable icon placed through the missions. Progress of what's been successfully found and how to use it is available in the bonus content menu during mission select.
HotD:OEE is of course an on rails shooter, the paths are predefined and at no point will the user control the movement. So of course all that's left is to shoot the aggressors as they approach the screen. Our weapon's ammo count is displayed in the corner of the screen and a combo indicator in the form of a revolver barrel alongside the score in the top corner. Weapons can be upgraded to provide more damage, larger clips, faster reload times etc and these upgrades or additional weapons such as shotguns and assault rifles are available to purchase via the "Gun Shop". Currency is earned through completing the missions and can also be gained through shooting the money targets when they appear in-game.
Each mission begins with a nicely voiced and animated cut scene setting up the ensuing carnage, then as the camera moves off enemies begin entering the screen. At the end of each level comes the inevitable boss fight, each one has a different attack style and a very big health bar.
Of course a rail shooter isn't going to be much fun without some form of actual gun accessory which of course for the PS3 is the Move controller. It can be used on its own, with the pistol grip or sharpshooter accessory. Controls are about as simple as they can get, all the menus utilise the point and shoot to select and in-game reloading will occur once we empty our clip but can also be triggered by pressing the Move button at any point. Square will also launch any grenades we have the fortune of acquiring.
Graphics and Audio
HotD's debut on PS3 sees the franchise receive the high definition treatment, while the level design remains the same this isn't a quick port from the Wii with some improved textures. The game looks great in this remastered format and even when the monsters are right up in our face the graphics still look good. Additionally the cut scenes are very nicely done and work well to tie the game together.
The soundtrack for the game is also very good; it fits well with the style of game and has that real 70's B-movie feel to it. Monsters lurch onto the screen and are dispatched with crisp gunshots and plenty of flesh pulping splats.
With its roots in old school arcade gameplay Overkill Extended Edition really brings back that classic feel and while there is nothing ground-breaking here we had plenty of fun playing. Fans of the original series will definitely enjoy some mindless blast everything on screen action and it's a great game for a session with a few friends. That said we did find that the boss fights were quite repetitive and rather long, not challenging as such, just an everlasting life bar and only a set number of attacks.
Speaking of playing with friends, two player mode means we can go tear up the streets with a mate and when playing with others it's not always about the story but just have fun.
Added to that good job that's been done on the HD remastering we have the anaglyph 3D feature which means we can make the game even more retro and with a pair of old school 3D glasses really rock the classic feel.
Replayability is always going to be limited in a rail shooter but the developers have provided plenty of bonus content to be discovered. Few gamers will collect them all on play one so completists have something to aim for and add to that additional modes of play featuring increased enemy numbers, or classic mode where only a single handgun is available and there's plenty of extra play time to be had.
Essentially it's good ole' classic arcade shooting fun, nothing more, nothing less. Definitely one for the collection... just be aware that failing to complete the game 100% could leave you a little under the weather... 86%