As you may have guessed by my excitable reaction to this PS3 remake's announcement, House of the Dead Overkill is one of my favourite videogames. It takes the basic premise of Wow Entertainment's classic lightgun shooters, combines it with the best of grindhouse movie clichés and serves it up with lashings of swearing, gore and – most of all – humour. But, brilliant though it is, the Wii version is undeniably flaky in some areas. PS3 addresses them all, mostly with freshly remade content. Get a load of this…
For starters, the first thing you'll notice about the game is that it's smoother (unless you're playing it in 3D, in which case the first thing you'll notice is that it's 3D). The frequent stutters in the old version's movement have all been ironed out, further suspending your disbelief and letting you concentrate on the fun of dismembering high-definition zombies.
Above: Three shots left in the barrel, three zombies and a flying axe on their way. Decisions, decisions
The cut-scenes have been re-recorded, now with motion captured acting instead of the stilted, hand-animated movements on Wii. For the game to look as low-budget as it does requires a lot of high-budget work. The filter over the screen that emulates low-quality film is better, the lighting more moody and the gore physics now even more satisfying.
Sadly, Agent Washington's potty mouth was censored in the version we were shown (as this build has been shown off at public events), but the team is no doubt annoyed that their Guinness World Record for 'sweariest game ever' was snatched away by Mafia II. The two extra levels should contain plenty of blue language to make up for that.
Above: You still get more points for headshots and your accuracy is displayed at the end of each level
Interestingly, while Washington's voice sounded the same as it always did, Agent G's voice sounded slightly different. This may be from re-recorded audio, but I suspect the voice actor has changed. We'll find out when we get the full game to play.
I was playing the game with a PlayStation Move controller, encased in a Sharpshooter gun peripheral. The peripheral is good and the shotgun-style cocking action feels rather Arnie-esque. However, I'm unconvinced with regard to PlayStation Move. The aiming reticule is reasonably steady, but there is a tangible delay between moving your aim and seeing the reticule's position adjust on the screen.
The old scoring system is back, with that harsh 'one miss and you drop your combo' mechanic still in place – only now all the harsher due to the increased difficulty level of the game.
Above: Don't worry about this guy, he's 'armless enough... if you get on his good side
Everything is the same but different, from the menu screens with new features to extra music tracks alongside the old ones. It's still ultra-funky, though – don't worry about that. Slow mo-fo mode is also back, only now the special effects stand up to closer scrutiny. And exploding a zom… sorry, 'mutant' with a shotgun in slow-motion is worth taking your time over.
Better graphics, better gore, better cut-scenes and better fluidity. Mix these with more levels, more weapons (including a crossbow!), more dimensions to play it in and even an extra playable character. That last one's under wraps for now, but seeing how hot we are for HotD, expect a lot more coverage soon. It's looking damn fine.
I know I say this every time, but I highly recommend you watch this video to see what you've got to look forward to.
20 July, 2011