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The House of the Dead 4 review for PSN

Platform: PSN
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Wow Entertainment
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

SEGA’s House of the Dead series began in 1997 with the original arcade release, and since then has seen a number of releases, ports, and sequels, including a god-awful movie or two. They’ve long been considered fan favorites in the light gun genre, and for good reason, being the only real noteworthy horror themed light gun game around. This long-awaited PS3 port of House of the Dead 4 marks a pretty great way to experience the only real HD House of the Dead release, and the Move controller once again doubles as a suitable light gun replacement for the PS3.

I’ve had a few chances to play the arcade version of House of the Dead 4 since its 2006 release, and there’s a good chance that if you’ve wandered into a Dave and Busters or GameWorks at some point in the last five years, you’ve probably laid hands on the brightly colored machines guns that accompany the arcade versions massive widescreen display. While the home version doesn’t quite compare with the lack of actual shaking guns and arcade atmosphere missing, everything else seems to be intact.

And actually, this port is somewhat significant in that it’s about the only way I know of to experience the House of the Dead 4 SP, or HOTD 4 Special. HOTD 4 Special was a unique arcade set-up that used two stages not found in the standard game, reintroducing series favorite Agent G, and picking up directly after the ending of HOTD 4. The set-up required for this version of the game was barely used in the States, and supposedly doesn’t really exist in any arcade here if Wikipedia is to be believed.

Control wise everything handles about like you’d expect a modern light gun shooter ported to the PS3 should. Pointing the Move controller aims your onscreen reticule, and the gun-shake to reload mechanic remains in place, instead of the more standard pointing off screen to reload. The center Move button doubles as a start button and grenade button, and the whole set-up is just as intuitive as any other light gun shooter tends to be. There’s zero issues with calibration that I ran into, it takes just a few seconds to calibrate at start-up, and seems to remain calibrated even after an hour or two of straight play.

The game itself is relatively short, as light gun games tend to be, but it’s definitely priced appropriately. You get a Free Play mode, which allows you to alter things like difficulty, number of lives and continues, blood color, level of violence, and to choose what stage you start on provided you’ve already reached that stage before. There’s also a ranked mode that ties into online leaderboards, which locks difficulty and other variations, and only gives you three lives with no continues, but still allows for level selecting. You need only finish the game once to unlock SP mode, which doesn’t take much time at all, and is worth checking out for the multiple ending angle.

One last unlockable, which is relatively minor yet cool, is a translated interview with the game’s producer and designer, which I’d love to see more of. Seriously, every game should have some behind the scenes content to it, and while this one is pretty short, I’m happy to see this kind of thing included as bonus materials.

Besides that, it’s pretty light on the bells and whistles, but thankfully everything plays great. It’s a rock solid port of a pretty fun arcade shooter, and while it’s not my favorite in the series, I’m glad to have it ported to consoles. I’d love to see more games like this brought over from SEGA, and if you have any affinity for the genre, you’d do well to support this release as SEGA did a pretty great job of bringing it over. More quality arcade ports like this that are priced appropriately is definitely a step in the right direction, and overall it’s a great purchase if you tend to enjoy House of the Dead.

Grade: A-