JAMMA 2002: House of the Dead 3

Sega shows off the arcade incarnation of its upcoming Xbox shooter.

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Sega showed off the arcade incarnation of House of the Dead 3 today at the JAMMA arcade show. The light-gun game was running on Chihiro, the new Xbox-compatible arcade board that is actually based on Xbox hardware. The benefits of the board's architecture were readily apparent, as the arcade version is nearly indistinguishable from the Xbox version we've seen--the only real difference is that the game obviously looks better on a high-resolution arcade monitor than on a standard television.

The game was being displayed in a deluxe arcade cabinet, complete with new light guns and stereo speakers. While the previous installments of the series have supplied the main characters with handguns, House of the Dead 3's weapon of choice is a shotgun. The light guns attached to the cabinet resembled sawed-off pump-action shotguns that required you to use the gun's pump to reload rather than shoot offscreen, as in the previous entries in the series. The new reloading method allows for a much faster rate of fire--provided your forearms and trigger finger hold out--that changes how the game plays.

The gameplay in House of the Dead 3 also makes some small changes to the series. The core of the game is true to the rail-shooting gameplay the series has been known for, but it throws in some twists to keep things interesting. You'll come across sequences in a two-player game that will have you protecting your partner from zombies that are advancing on him or her. If you take the zombies out before your partner is hurt, you'll be rewarded with an extra hit point. The sequences trade off between putting player one and player two in danger, keeping both players on their toes. As a whole, though, House of the Dead 3 follows the same basic structure as the previous entries in the series.

Graphically, the game looks as good as its Xbox counterpart, featuring high-poly characters and environments that sport a great deal of detail. You'll notice an impressive array of special effects, such as lighting and particle effects, throughout the game. The assorted zombies and freaks of nature you'll encounter in the game are impressively modeled and deform in a variety of stomach-churning ways depending on where they're shot. The environments don't feature quite as much damage-induced deformation but do offer a good assortment of items to destroy.

The build on the show floor let us check out quite a lot of the game and gave us a fairly solid idea of what to expect, although many of the alternate path choices we came across while playing weren't available for the purposes of the demo. We were able to go through several levels and engage in boss fights against an undead Hell's Angel variation on the "Karl" boss character from House of the Dead 2, a demonic sloth creature, and an undead mutant plant. The game is much faster than its predecessors, and overall, it appears to be a strong entry in the series. Look for more on the Xbox game in the coming weeks.

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