Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
For the pleasure of your Thanksgiving Holiday, I present to you...flesh eating zombies?
Instead of eating some turkey, why not blow the dust off the old Dreamcast and play this gem from the system. House of the Dead 2 started out in the arcades as the linear shoot and reload on rails monster that most arcade games are. Ported by Sega to the dreamcast, House of the Dead 2 is a very fun game to play, once you get used to it.
The game has a long history spawning four arcade versions, two console ports, a typing version, and even pinball. To be fair, on rails shooters are a dime a dozen really, but what sets House of the Dead apart from other games is the amount of fun you do have with it. I mean, shooting zombies should become a national sport in the video game community, and House of the Dead lets you do this in spades.
And it looks good too, considering the graphics on the game. Less than ten years old and we can consider them dated, but they have enough details on the polygons to make the game look good. The enviorment, which is actually a giant city, also fits the bill as a decripid and poor town that is overrun by the walking dead. You need to have a quick trigger and good reflexes for this, as the enemies shamble real quickly towards your position.
The biggest problem is the learning curve with the controller. You use the analog stick to muve your cursor, and the flippers to shoot. It takes a while to move the stick to the right place, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. Kind of like duck hunt without the light gun. Since I only played this without one, and I honestly don't remember if Sega ever made a light gun for the Dreamcast, it was the only way to go.
With some patience though you get the hang of it. Unfortanatly, the voice acting you can't get used to. a hallmark in the series is the bad voice overs, and it's the same in this game, like in all others. The other sound effects, ranging from the zombie moans to the helpless people screaming in the streets, are done well. The gun shots are good too.
The final nail in the coffin comes from the linear path you need to follow. Although rail shooters are notorious for this, they attempt to spice it up by making the illusion of choices, picking various pathways which may yield an easier time against the undead if your lucky. You still go to face the same boss in the end, you still fight the same zombies in the same places and you still have to deal with poor voice acting in the process. After you beat the game, there is little to do really.
And thats the unfortanate thing about House of the Dead 2, like yesterdays Thanksgiving meal, after you enjoy it for the first time, it becomes a cold turkey the second time around. The game has a lot going for it, and is a definite rental (if they even exist) on the Dreamcast, but you can also find this as a part of a bundle pack on ebay or something, and for a couple of bucks, it is most definitly worth a shot.