House of the dead has finally arrived on the saturn. Excellent! The game therefore must be brilliant. But is it? Let's get straight down to business.
Starting with the bad news, I must say that these visuals are by no means acceptable. There was always going to be compromises, such as lower resolution, but Tantalus have spoiled things a bit by using such scrappy textures for the visuals. Whilst the monsters and scientists look OK, the walls, floors and doors all look terrible, giving HoTD a very rough appearance. To be fair, Tantalus were given a very tight deadline, but it really does seem like they have rushed this game. On the plus side, the general look of the game is still there, and despite the poor visuals, you can still see what is going on. Everything runs nice and smooth, with only a bit of glitching during the cut scenes.
The music and sound effects are allpresent and correct, with the quality being very much the same, which is good. The music, being tense and atmospheric, creates that scary feeling. The only gripe concerning the sound is that in cut scenes the voices are said just off time, for example, Rogan waits until when Hangedman has basically flown off before he cries, "Sophie!!".
This is where the game really shines. It's good to know that every single aspect of the gameplay has been retained in the home conversion. It plays differently to Virtua Cop in that killing an enemy usually takesmore than 1 shot. There are also many different ways to kill the zombies; you can pick off their limbs one by one, leaving them vulnerable, or you could go for a double head shot and watch their eyeballs come out, or you could even shoot them in the chest twice and watch the whole upper torso come off!! Also, you don't really need much accuracy, but do not hesitate, or else the zombies will come at you and bite/swipe/scratch/barge etc. Even for the bosses, accuracy is not the most important thing. Do you really want to be wasting so much time lining up the gun with Chariot's weak spot? By which time he would already have whacked you 3 or 4 times. Be careful when rescuing the scientists, however, because if you shoot them you lose lives.
Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any new features in HoTD, bar a few cosmetic secrets, and the ability to change how many lives you have etc. In the Saturn mode you would expect new levels, but no. Although you do have the choice of 4 characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The good thing, however, is that HoTD already had some features which increase its longetivity. It features a multiple route system, by which one shot could affect which way you'll be going next, e.g. if you fail to rescue a scientist, you could end up going the long way round, or if you don't press that switch in time. In a way, the incredible addictiveness of the game will bring you back, going for record scores each time, and the fact that it is very hard means that you won't be completing this game in a hurry (well, in easy, yes maybe). I did expect more, though.
The conversion is quite disappointing, as it features no real significant extra features, and atrocious graphics. However, the gameplay remains intact. As a fan of the original, I really really like this game, and it is a worthy addition to Virtua Cop 2 in your collection. If you can see past the graphics you can see that HoTD remains a great game. But is it stunning? Not if you count the cut corners Tantalus have made.
Review By: Glenn Lester