i got a copy of the house of the dead 2 and 3 return completely randomly, and not being big on light-gun shooters in general i didn’t play the game for quite awhile. (in case you don’t know, the game’s a wiimake of two games that were apparently popular in the arcade but which i’d never encountered previously.) i was looking for a co-op game to play with the significant other, and so even though neither of us are even into zombies that much i thought it might be fun.
and actually, it was fun. at first we alternated between HotD2 and HotD3, but it didn’t take long to find out that HotD2 is significantly harder, so we ended up focusing on HotD3. the game is set up so that as you play the game more, you unlock settings that give you more continues and more life, as well as additional difficulty options. there’s a cap on the maximum number of continues you can choose (9), and continues are shared between the players. my SO, being a n00b, used up the majority of the continues so that even on “very easy” we had trouble getting to the end. a classic example of a game with a co-op mode that doesn’t take into account the players’ differing levels of ability, but when i beat the game twice on very easy on my own it unlocked unlimited continues for HotD3; so then we played through it one more time to beat it together. teamwork, awww.
i enjoyed HotD3 overall. the dialogue is intentionally cheesy and entertaining, and the enemies are amusing, and the graphics aren’t anything flashy and don’t feel too dated. the main problem i have with the gameplay is that the bulk of the game is fairly mindlessly easy, but the boss levels are suddenly much harder, even once you’ve learned the patterns. (even with all my playthroughs i was never able to fully master the sloth boss. alas.)
comparing it to HotD2, from my experience (and i think most people agree) the latter is definitely superior. the branching paths in HotD2 keep the game feeling fresh, and saving civilians adds to the gameplay’s variety. having to sit down and master all the boss fights made me reluctant to try to beat the game, though, so i didn’t bother. i did some of the training exercises for variety, which provided a nice change of pace. the wii version of HotD2 has a new mode to enhance the original arcade mode: in the new mode you can use a couple of powerups to compensate for the limited number of continues, but i didn’t end up exploring those options very much. the main complaint about the package as a whole seems to be that both games only offer up limited continues (for example, in this review at 1up), but i don’t have a problem with that, assuming that HotD2 provides the same mechanism to unlock unlimited continues, i.e. by beating the game a couple of times on any difficulty level, including very easy. the effort makes the victory that much sweeter. 😉 haha.
last thing: i tried the wii zapper, and i liked the stability it added to my aim, although i wasn’t completely satisfied with the weight of it, or the feel of the trigger. for light gun games that don’t use the nunchuk the wii zapper is certainly not ideal. at some point i’ll try nyko’s wii perfect shot gun, which seems to have gotten good reviews.
in any case, the house of the dead 2 and 3 return was a surprisingly good release and is certainly recommended, even though HotD3 is fairly shallow and mindless. the wii release has also gotten me interested in the series as a whole. not enough to run out and get the wii’s followup, the house of the dead: overkill, but i’m definitely going to pick up the pinball of the dead and i’m definitely going to track down a copy of the typing of the dead. eventually!
– FAQ of the xbox version: includes a fair number of the quotes from the game, including the classic, “a security guard? you gotta be kidding!”
– entry at wikipedia: has info on the four endings