Why don't girls play video games?
That's the 64 million-dollar question, at the very least. Many pundits suggest that women don't play video games because they're less violent and less competitive than men. Of course, anyone who has spent any time with women knows what a load of crap that suggestion is.
The subject matter certainly has something to do with it. Just look at the high incidence of female players in Everquest and The Sims, where they can target people (real or virtual) with relationships instead of missiles.
But I have another theory: I think it's all about the controls. The particular female of the species that I like to refer to as "my girl" once even showed an interest in uber-babe Lara Croft when I brought home the first Tomb Raider game. But that interest quickly faded when I tried to explain to her how to walk, run, jump, flip, grab, climb, shoot, run and shoot, jump flip and shoot, and other button combinations requiring the use of most of your fingers. She left the room.
But put a light gun in her hand, or the hand of nearly any other girl, and watch the body parts fly. It's simple, there are no controls to learn, you just point and pull the trigger. Ever think you'd see a group of drunk college girls gathered around an Xbox? All you need is some tequila, a pair of light guns, and House of the Dead III. (Note: This assumes that you have some way to attract college girls to your house in the first place)
Now, this is true of all gun games, so don't give any special credit to HotD III, which, apart from some nice graphics, has nothing new to offer real, expert, manly-man gamers. But let's start at the beginning...
Our zombie friends are back! Yes indeed, it would be a pretty poor zombie-shooting game if it didn't have zombies. This time they have taken over The Factory of the Dead; there's no House anywhere. But aside from the lack of a House, this game is pretty much a next-gen cookie cutter version of the rest of the series. Let's just look at those hallmarks shall we?
Bad voice acting - Check. Perhaps not as bad as the voices in House of the Dead II, and certainly not as bad as Zombie Revenge, but bad nonetheless. You start off as Thomas Rogan, zombie-fighting special agent from the first game, until you are captured by Dr. Curien. Then you must play as Lisa Rogan (along with sidekick agent "G") in an attempt to rescue your father. Wooden non-sequitors about how agent Rogan didn't spend enough time with his family will not keep you riveted to the screen. But who cares? It's a gun game and impending zombie attacks will keep you riveted to the screen. Speaking of which...
Zombies - Check. Plenty of great-looking, flesh-eating zombies. High framerates, super detailed textures, very smooth animations and full screen anti-aliasing really lets these zombies strut their stuff. Plus, these aren't the slowly-walk-towards-you zombies of the Resident Evil series. They're nimble and fast and if they get near you, they will bite, claw, stab, or chainsaw your face. There are only 8 types of zombies, however, and 4 zombie bosses, the best of which is a giant zombie three-toed sloth. Cool.
Guns - Only half a point here, as there is only one gun. There are no other weapons in the game other than the shotgun you start with. Oddly, the reload is automatic, so you can just fire away to your heart's content without thinking. The spread is pretty wide, so you don't have to aim that well. This is due to the game's controller friendly design. In fact much of the game design revolves around making it playable with the standard controller. Which brings us to...
Shooting - Check. While HotD III is certainly more fun with a lightgun, it is not necessary. A generous shotgun spread and enemies that require rapid fire instead of precise aiming show that the game was clearly designed with the standard controller in mind. The only problem with this is that it makes the game less fun to play with a lightgun, since it's more about how fast you pull the trigger rather than how well you use a weapon. Everything becomes obvious once you beat the game, which unlocks the full game of House of the Dead II. A very nice bonus, but one you will quickly discover is nearly impossible to play with the controller.
Multiple Paths - Half point here, too. There are very few path selections, and most of them just change the order in which you tackle the different areas. Again, everything becomes more obvious when you unlock HotD 2 which was a longer, more complex game where you could earn bonuses and beef up your gear before the mission, with more health or different weapons.
Credits - Check. Yep, as you play you still use up "credits" as if you were sticking quarters in the front of your Xbox. The screen even says "Insert Coin(s)". Note to Sega: Arcades are dead. Get over it. Find a new gameplay system.
I'm a really big fan of gun games, so I really wish there were more of them. It's nice to finally have a gun for my Xbox (the only gun currently available is the MadCatz Blaster, which is big, green and silly looking, but works fine). But enticing most people to shell out extra cash for a gun attachment requires an extraordinary game, one with depth, longer gameplay, and a real plot to compliment the hip shooting action. In short, a better game than this one.
And that's pretty much all that's in this particular House... er... Factory of the Dead. It's fine, but it does nothing new whatsoever. Great looking zombie-splattering will have the girls and other casual observers fighting for control of your lightgun, but real gamers will chew quickly through this light zombie snack.