House of the Dead III is the latest chapter in the series. I have never played the original and only played a little bit of the second one (which is provided in this game as an extra), but I decided I would pick this game up for a good rent. Using the power of the X-Box, this game is quite a looker and it is even easy to play with the X-Box control pad, whether you have the original or the S-Controller.

From what I can surmise about the serviceable plot is that this takes place 20 years after House of the Dead II, which I can only guess would make it 2020. Lisa, the daughter of Thomas Rogan, and Agent G (Yo G!) go to the infamous Curiel house to find Lisa’s dad and save the world from potential destruction. There is a mad scientist here as well, but then again there always is.

The plot is just an afterthought and overall the voices used are pretty poor with no real feeling behind them. It sounds like the voice actors are just reading the lines and not really into the scenes they are in at all. However, this is a light gun game and they really have never had much of a plot to them other than shoot things and advance, right?

What we have in House of the Dead III is a very beautiful game without a hint of slowdown during the 6 stages presented here. I am glad they got rid of the cel graphics they were originally intending this game to have. I do not think it would look as good if it was cel shaded. Fact is cel shading does work in games like Jet Set Radio Future, but if you are trying to convey a realistic thriller chances are people will not be too scared by cel shaded baddies. You also have the option of turning the blood green or red, along with 4 levels of violence. I did not play with any other levels than Gratuitous though and this game is VERY bloody.

The sound is ok in the game. It really did not pump out on my DD5.1 system as well as other X-Box games have. I think it would have been neat if you could hear the zombies behind you before you turn around to shoot them, but I digress. The control system is easy. You use your left analog stick to aim and the A or R trigger button to fire. You can reload your shotgun by hitting the B or L trigger. It takes very little time to reload the shotgun. I did not have a light gun accessory to play this game with, but the option is there to use one. I believe Mad Catz sells one for the X-Box.

The game is pretty simple and you can change the amount of life and continues you have, as well as the difficulty of the game. Where the game gets hard is in two of the 5 boss battles within the game. One happens during one of the levels and the other is the cheap final boss. I do not wish to spoil anything, but these two can be quite frustrating and may take away a good chunk of your continues if you are not careful. All in all you can blow through this game in about 30 minutes or less after you know where everything is.  

There are some extras on the game as well. After you beat the game once, a port of House of the Dead II from the Dreamcast is available. There is also a sneak peek at the movie version of House of the Dead that is currently being filmed to come out in theaters in 2003. This looks like a strictly B-grade movie, so I would not get my hopes up too high on this one. You also have the chance to do a Time Attack mode where you go through the game, Time Crisis style, and try to keep the timer from going to 0. This gives a little more longevity to the game.

This is where the game excels. I did not notice any slowdown in the game and the colors are bright and beautiful. This game really is a good game to show your X-Box off, although I do not know how well the PS2 or GameCube could pull of the graphics in this game. They are very clean and detailed. This is a nice, smooth game in my opinion. Nothing award-winning here. I was frankly let down by the audio presentation in this game. It is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (which I have), but I just was not awed by it as I have by some other X-Box games. Music is non-existent. The sound effects for the weapons some zombies employ are pretty good, but it is nothing earth-shattering. The controls are simple in this game. Use the A or R trigger to fire the shotgun and the B or L trigger to reload the shotgun (6 shells). Use the left analog controller to aim or if you have a light gun use that (I do not). I did have some problems on two bosses that move around a lot trying to get a bead on their weak points to shoot with the analog controller. This is what brings the score down. The gameplay is fast and furious. Basically you just shoot anything that moves. You can also play 2 players on this game, but I did not get the chance to do that. I would guess it would be pretty fun playing with another person. There is no time to really take a breath in this game. You are constantly shooting and aiming. It just makes you not think about other things and just concentrate on this game. I will say there are 2 bosses that are very tough, including the cheap final boss. You may have to replay this game to beat it or maybe you will be lucky and beat it the first time. It gets higher than 50 because you do get the added benefit of House of the Dead II after beating this game. That should give you another good 30 minutes (or multiple replays to beat) of game time before you tire of the whole game completely.This game is definitely a renter at best. You can easily beat this in a day (even with the 2 hard bosses) and it really gives you nothing for replay value other than going through on the higher difficulties and the addition of House of the Dead II after you beat the game once. This is a good game. It just has no longevity and should just be a rent unless you are really hard up for a shooter.