I’m not sure what made my mind stray to this series (okay, it was the lack of stimulation I was getting from one of the boring movies I recently blogged about), but I was shocked to discover that House of the Dead 4 was released for PS3 in 2012. I thought Overkill was the only HOTD released on the system, and I can’t believe it took 8 years for me to even learn about this game…or that the PS3 is already so old.
I quickly dug out my neglected PS3 system and hooked it up to download the game from the PlayStation Store. That’s right…no physical release. This is a 10 dollar download only. It took me quite some time to even remember how to use the PS3. Seriously, I forgot there was an on/off switch in back.
Once the game was installed, I realized I couldn’t remember how to use the Eye camera and Move controller. Once I got them working, I did remember just how fricking awful the calibration is on these damn Move controllers.
No worries, though, because HOTD 4 is a snap if you choose the settings as such: very easy, 9 lives, 9 credits.
The story…is the same old story. Two agents travel through a city killing zombies and other mutants to get to a final boss.
Other than the trigger for shooting, you can use the X, square, circle, or triangle buttons to throw grenades, and there are times when you need to shake the controller to do things like open doors or push baddies off when they grab you. There are also background items you can shoot to get special bullets, more grenades, extra lives, extra credits, etc., but as usual, they tend to pass by just long enough for you to shoot a canister or box open and then get tripped up by a “reload” warning before you can shoot the actually goodie inside.
Ugh. Reload. You go through bullets so fast you’re constantly reloading…or if you’re me, just totally tuning out the incessant “reload, reload, reload” verbal warning and then wondering why you can’t shoot. To reload you have to shake the controller vigorously, which I seriously believe causes you to shake the damn thing out of calibration. The calibration is so bad that even with all my wicked easy options in place, I still constantly ranked at C or below on each chapter, and was constantly told by the game that I suck on the results screen (not exactly in those words, but it still hurts).
Other than various types of zombies, there are the usual flying critters, annoying fast-moving monkey monsters, ghouls that throw weapons or explosives, and annoying little creepy-crawlies like slugs and spiders that jump at the screen and latch on to you…requiring you to once again shake the controller.
Most of the baddies aren’t too hard to take down, but they do come at you in hordes and tend to pop up just when you’re…you guessed it…out of bullets and have to reload, which leads to some cheap shots while you’re defenseless. It’s also quite annoying that you aren’t given the opportunity to get a jump on them. If you see them crawling out from under a table, hole in the wall, or sewer, don’t even bother shooting them. It doesn’t register until they are completely standing.
Then there are the bosses, like a cool giant spider and a big fat dude that fricking rolls over you. Most bosses are quite easy, giving you a diagram of their vulnerable spot before the fight begins and then circling that spot with a reticle during the battle. Of course there are those times where it doesn’t feel like you can actually hit the spot even though the reticle is blinking, such as a moment when a chainsaw wielding boss outside your train is passing by the windows. You shoot like crazy with no results then just have to suck it up and take the timed hit. I hate that crap.
And naturally there are those bosses that throw shit at you, almost ensuring a hit every time because there are numerous small objects flying across the screen that you need to shoot so they don’t hit you. But as I said at the beginning, it really doesn’t matter as long as you go very easy, 9 lives, 9 credits.
The game is short and can be completed in an hour, but you can play again and take different branches. There are several times when you get to choose the directions to go—left or right—so you can easily choose the left side every time through the first play then take the right side each time through the second play through to see what you missed. From what I can tell, the right side is always harder.
Most importantly, you unlock the HOTD 4 SP game once you complete all six chapters! You can finish this in fifteen minutes. It’s merely two chapters, and one of them repeats a boss from the full game. Aside from new locations, there are a few other new elements. For starters, you team up with G. from the original game (don’t come!). Yay!
Also, there are two weird challenge moments thrown in that you don’t even know are challenges until FAILED splashes across the screen. They come on so fast there’s no time to even register what you’re being told to do.
After you defeat the final boss, there’s one more thing to do…hit a box in his hand. I played through twice and thought I totally shot the box, but both times the word “bad end” splashed across the screen. Argh! I then watched the good end on YouTube and it turns out I totally wasn’t paying attention to the fleeting onscreen instructions because I was too busy panicking due to a timer counting down. What you’re supposed to do is throw a grenade at the boss box. Ugh.