TGS 2002: Hands-on: The House of the Dead 3

We check out the Xbox installment of Sega's shooting series.

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The latest installment in Sega's light-gun series The House of the Dead is currently being shown at the Tokyo Game Show running on the Xbox. While the game looks nearly identical to the arcade version being shown simultaneously at the arcade show called JAMMA, there are some cosmetic differences. The biggest one is the addition of your character's weapon onscreen. The ability to see your gun onscreen makes aiming a bit easier, especially during boss fights when precision shooting is essential to success. You'll also notice an onscreen crosshair, which makes picking out your targets that much easier, as well as an auto-reloading feature.

The Xbox game's player aids are likely to be required for anyone playing the game without a light gun. While the control scheme maps out fairly well to the Xbox controller, and is among the best setups we've seen when playing a light-gun game with a control pad, we longed for a solid light-gun peripheral, especially after playing the game at JAMMA. Fortunately we caught a glimpse of one in the Microsoft booth, a replica of an M92F semiautomatic pistol. The gun is a decent replica and functions well enough, though it hardly matches the feel of the arcade version's pump shotgun.

Playing around with the home version also gave us a chance to get a better feel for how the game unfolds as you play. The basic rail shooting structure is intact, although we noticed there are many more cutscenes during gameplay, which puts a somewhat greater emphasis on the game's story. The game's tone is a bit different from the previous entries in the series due to a more straightforward approach to the voice acting, which lacks the bizarre emoting heard in the first two games. We also found there to be more opportunities to choose a different route during the game. These gameplay additions and the new voice work make the game feel a little less campy and a bit more serious.

From what we've played so far, The House of the Dead 3 is looking good. The game's graphics are sharp, and the gameplay is on par with the rest of the light-gun game genre. The new tweaks to gameplay work well from what we've seen. While the even-keeled, almost monotone approach to the voice work and the game's slightly more serious tone are a touch disheartening, the sheer body count you can rack up in the game keeps things engaging. The House of the Dead 3 is set to ship this October for the Xbox in the US. Look for more on the game soon.

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