Thursday, August 30, 2012

Top 50 Games - #42

42. The House of the Dead 2
Developer: AM1
Publisher: Sega
Year: 1999
Format: Dreamcast, Arcade, PC

Not a huge amount to say about this, really.  It’s the second (and best, although admittedly I’ve only played 3 once) instalment in Sega’s zombie-blasting lightgun series, set in a vaguely Venicey city.  I do like a good lightgunner, and this is one of the finest – fast, tricky, exciting and full of tricks to keep you on your toes. 
   At the time, the graphics were pretty top-notch, but it looks very dated now.  The voice acting, mind you, has never been anything other than gobsmackingly terrible.  The bosses are memorable, there are several routes through each level to keep things interesting, massacring hordes of the undead never gets old (can you “massacre” something that’s already died once?) and, amusingly, one of the zombie types is clearly modelled off Kurt Cobain. 
   The Dreamcast port is notable for adding in “Original Mode” – an enhanced version of the arcade cabinet that encourages multiple playthroughs by letting you collect and store powerups that range from the useful (extra lives) to the cosmetic (play as NPCs) to the downright silly (replace your bullets with lures from Sega Bass Fishing).  As with Soul Calibur, this can be seen as a relic from the time when the arcade/home gaming handover was in its final stages.  But really, it’s just a dumb, fun blaster.
MAGIC MOMENT: there are a few different endings, based on...sundry data.  I never really worked out what the criteria were.  Something to do with your score?  Anyway, one of them sees the villain Goldman (who takes a tumble off a skyscraper just before the end credits) suddenly pop up as a zombie.  I only ever saw that one once, but blimey did it startle me.  I could never complete the game again without a slight degree of trepidation.

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