Zombies are a bit played out at this point since we’ve seen them be used to death in films, video games and most recently TV shows. I’m not saying that everything that features a zombie is a cheap or completely unoriginal thing, but seeing a car commercial that features a zombie in a woeful attempt to be funny or hearing about people going on zombie walks in downtown areas of cities across the U.S. is simply silly and I think it sells zombies a bit short. Zombies have had a longstanding history in video games but recently we’ve seen them pop up more since it’s now a pop-culture phenomenon and people obviously have no problem buying something that allows them to shoot zombie heads. One video game franchise that was way ahead of the zombie craze was Sega’s House of the Dead series and now the franchise is finally making the jump to the PlayStation 3 with House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut.
I’m a huge arcade gaming fan but I was never quite a fan of the first few House of the Dead arcade games. Compared to what I was used to at the time (Time Crisis), HotD was a bit too difficult for me given the low ammo count and almost required use of having to perform headshots, which my young gamer mind didn’t fully understand when I first played the game. But eventually I grew fond of the HotD franchise and I was blown away by the last arcade version of the game, HotD 4. House of the Dead was never really a big draw on the consoles outside of an appearance on the Dreamcast, but a lot of gamers really enjoyed the completely over-the-top romp that was House of the Dead: Overkill when the game was released on the Wii. Now PS3 gamers are jumping in with the action of House of the Dead: Overkill and I must say that as an arcade game and the latest game to utilize the PlayStation Move I was extremely happy with what I played at E3.
Now when I saw that House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut was in Sega’s E3 booth I was really excited since I love arcade style games. After seeing that the HotD: Overkill Extended Cut demo was being run in 3D, I grew a bit apprehensive only because standing in front of people with 3D glasses and holding a PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter is about as ridiculous as one can look at a business event. But I decided to suck it up and risk looking completely silly since I wanted to get some hands-on time with the game and blast some zombies.
House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is about as simple an arcade experience as a game can be: it’s a straightforward light-gun style arcade shooter in which it’s all about surviving hordes of enemies and racking up as high a score as possible. Available at E3 was a simple demo of the Extended Cut of HotD: Overkill which gave me a good taste of the PlayStation Move functionality and the Stereoscopic 3D effects, or the immediate lack there-of.
HotD: Overkill Extended Cut is pretty much a faithful port of the original Wii game with a new HD scene that is actually impressive to see in motion. The game isn’t likely to win anyone over in the graphics department as the zombies don’t have complex levels of damage modeling, but it’s pretty much the simple case of seeing a zombie, proceeding to put your targeting reticule on the zombies head and seeing chunks and red mist erupt after you pull the trigger. By no means is HotD: Overkill Extended Cut a serious game as it’s completely tongue-in-cheek and the action itself is completely over-the-top. I do wish that things were perhaps a bit amped up as I did blow through the level quite fast but perhaps that was due to playing the demo in a co-op capacity. Featuring a nice amount of zombies on-screen (at one go I saw around 10 coming my way), the game wasn’t bogged down in any technical hiccups during the co-op session I played as the framerate was steady – which is always nice to see in a FPS arcade game.
A central element of House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is how the game utilizes the PlayStation Move & PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter which further gives the game an arcade vibe to a degree. It may be a shame to see the PS Move relegated once again primarily as a light gun device, but at least games are getting some mileage out of it so it’s ok in my book so far. Using the PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter to play HotD: Overkill Extended Cut was a lot of fun since the targeting reticule was responsive and there was a nice slightly visceral feeling whilst playing due to the reload feature on the Sharp Shooter. Yeah, I’m a complete sucker for anything that involves arcade gaming and light guns and I do go into Nice Ian Mode when a good arcade shooting game pops up.
The only immediate thing that I found to be lacking in House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut was the 3D effects. A lot more 3rd party publishers are jumping aboard the strong 3D initiative Sony is pushing and to be honest I was really underwhelmed with the 3D effects of HotD: Overkill Extended Cut since it was akin to a live-action movie getting a poor 3D post conversion job. Possible signal interference wasn’t the culprit for the poor 3D effects of HotD: Overkill Extended Cut as I didn’t see any image drops or shuttering. I was expecting some somewhat standard and perhaps overly in-your-face 3D effects in HotD since it’s a FPS but there wasn’t anything amazing in the demo as things were extremely subtle to the point where I didn’t even notice the game was in 3D at all.
Sega is prepping some additional features for the PS3 version of House of the Dead: Overkill but none of them were being demoed at E3. At its core House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut is shaping up to be a faithful HD port of an amazing on-rail shooter with some nice visuals and solid integration of the PlayStation Move. House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut may not have the same level of hype or excitement surrounding it if it was a new HotD game, but for gamers who never played the Wii version I think you owe it to yourself to check the game out when it drops on the PS3 later this year.