This was set to be one of the biggest titles for Sega in '98, if not the biggest. AM1, the creators of this excellent game in the arcades, handed the responsibility of translating it to the controversial Australian team, Tantalus, who are also responsible for the Saturn conversions of the reasonably impressive Manx TT and the not-so-impressive WipEout 2097. The big question is, can Tantalus overcome their previous talents and make a good conversion of this game? This review explains it all.
Easily the most disappointing feature in the game. The zombies in the game are actually pretty impressive. They are very well animated and expertly detailed. But very low-res backgrounds and scrappy textures on everything else, as well as some extremely jerky cut-scenes and terrible glitching make this game a large disappointment and I expect a large blow to Sega. I have seen worse, but the graphics can really get on your nerves. The characters are fine, I love them but the rest of the game's graphics have obviously been rushed by some very lazy programmers. The first thing you see in the game is a cut scene of Rogan's car zooming down the road, outside the House of the Dead. The first thing you think is that if the graphics are this bad, how about the rest of the game. In the game itself, the frame rate and jerkiness level are not too bad, it's just the low resolution textures which are annoying. But since the cut scenes build up a large part of the story, I think they could have tried a bit harder here.
House of the Dead features 4 gore-packed levels, full to the brim with dead things which are bound to get you reaching for your underwear drawer within minutes. The levels are quite long, I'd say slightly longer than the Virtua Cop 2 levels (and there are more levels too). Each has a reasonably hard boss to fight as well. The first boss you'll meet is Chariot, who is a large monster with a huge sickle for a weapon. He isn't too hard. But as you progress, and face Hangedman, Hermit and the Magician, it gets quite considerably harder. Each boss has a weak point, some less obvious than others, and you have to hit them there to kill them while also dealing with various other objects being hurled at you. So overall, I am quite pleased with the length of this game. It is a bit easy at times, but if you don't mind crap graphics, you'll come back for more.
The sound is probably the best feature of the game bar the playability. It has some great rock guitar tunes, as well as some cool dance tunes and others. The boss music is cool, as is the in-level music. There is not one piece of music in this game that I don't like. However - the samples are great, but a bit repeated at times, for instance every boss makes the same noise when they die and this is very noticeable. But apart from that I quite like this music so I will give this a good score.
There's plenty of options here guaranteed to keep the crap player going, such as difficulty, lives, continues etc. There are also some extra game modes as well. It includes the original Arcade Mode, as well as a Saturn Mode which is basically the Arcade Mode where you can choose your character. There is also a handy boss mode, helpful for training against fighting bosses so that you'll be prepared when you're in the game. So the playability and lastability of HotD is overall pretty good.
This is pretty controversial as to whether this game is goos or not. The graphics are pure crap really. But when you actually look at the game from the playing point of view, you'll actually see it's not that bad. It's very playable, the sound is great and it will most probably last you ages. You could say this is the sequel to the horror that is the disaster of the touring car conversion, except it's better. So I'm going to give this a thumbs up. But if you're a graphics freak, don't even bother.
Review By: Joel Stanier