|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SEGA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Does anybody still remember arcades? These used to be the places you could go to insert cash into machines to play amazing looking games that were generally too advanced for the home consoles to handle graphically. As the home consoles have become more powerful and online play has become more prevalent, the need for arcades has dwindled, as have their numbers. Chances are, if you have ever walked around in an arcade, you have heard the groans of zombies, pangs of gunfire, and clicks from reloading supplied by the numerous House of the Dead series' machines.
This series easily has some of the most popular and distinctive looking cabinets that could be found in arcades. For anyone who remembers the glory days of arcades or spent way more than they should have feeding one of these House of the Dead machines, House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return is ready to take you on a more cost effective trip down memory lane.
Light gun games being ported to home consoles is nothing new. There have been a ton of these ports throughout history that have graced virtually all of the consoles made in the last ten years. The thing that makes House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return different is that you don't have to buy a light gun peripheral or make do with analog stick aiming to play it. Instead, you can just play it with your Wii-mote and Nunchuk or splurge an extra couple of dollars on the Wii Zapper peripheral, to make the experience feel more authentic. Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword. While it does save you some money, the Wii-mote is clearly not optimal for this type of game. The Wii-mote does allow you to point and shoot at the screen, but it lacks the pixel-perfect aiming that is usually standard with a light gun peripheral.
House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return tries to compensate for this in a couple of ways with limited success. The first fix is that you can have on-screen crosshairs to help guide your aim. While this does help you aim more accurately, it is extremely cheap. Instead of being a game about precise aiming and quick reflexes, now all you have to do is make sure your pointer is over an enemy and pull the trigger. This really detracts from the game's overall experience, although the game still remains challenging because of its quick movements and endless hordes of attacking zombies. The other attempt at fixing the controls comes in your ability to reload. If you choose not to use the super-cheap crosshairs, you will need to be able to fire more rounds to compensate for the less-than-perfect aiming. To help these players, the game allows you to reload your weapon by pulling the Wii-mote up and towards you. It isn't much, but it will give you a slight edge, saving you fractions of a second over traditional reloading (aiming your Wii-mote off-screen and pulling the trigger).
While the controls may be a little different than you would expect, the games are exactly as you remember. Both House of the Dead 2 and 3 seem to be arcade perfect ports, if not slightly better than the originals. The fairly lame storylines and hilariously, and hopefully intentionally, awful dialogue are still present and will often make you laugh out loud while playing. The voice work in this game can't be done justice in text form; it really needs to be heard to be believed. Still, there aren't many things funnier than failing to save a male civilian, then turning to his girlfriend and simply saying "There was nothing we could do." Well, you did have a gun; you could have stopped the zombies from eating him. Audible gems like this are littered throughout both of these games and really make them hilarious to play through.