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House of the Dead 2
Platform:  Dreamcast
# of Players:  1-2
Developer:  Sega
Publisher:  Sega
Features:  Rumble, Light Gun
Ratings:  Early Childhood
Memory Req.:  
I have never been a huge fan of light gun video games. Area 51 sucked up more of my money at the arcade then I care to discuss. This game has changed my opinion of the genre. It really shows off how close to the arcade experience Dreamcast is able to take us.

Before I get to the game itself, the hardware merits a few words unto itself. The gun kicks ass. That's all there is to it. It is comfortable to hold, well balanced, but not too heavy and just plain looks cool. I DEFINITELY recommend shelling out the extra cash to buy it with the game. Using the stock Dreamcast controller after getting your hands on one of these guns is an exercise in futility, to say the least. In addition to the standard trigger button, there is a D-Pad located on the back of the unit. While it is not used in this game other than menu selection, I can't help but think about how cool it would be if it were implemented as a means of character navigation, allowing you to switch instantly to the gun in combat mode...

On to the game itself...if you have ever played it in the arcade, you will not be disappointed by the home version. Nothing was left out, and it is just as fast. The graphics and animation are top notch, and so is the sound. For those not familiar with the game, or its predecessor, House of the Dead, your goal is to blast you way through hordes of zombies and mega-tough bosses to get to the bottom of the situation, and set everything right. My worries of laying down $100 for the game and gun, only to finish the game and never play it again were quickly put to rest when I realized how many different branches the story line can take, depending on what you do in the game. Most of these options are the result of you rescuing or failing to rescue humans, as zombies attack them. Sometimes, however, the splits occur when you shoot a specific object on screen, like a key on the ground, a doorknob or window. Doing so will take you down an entirely different path, with new screens, monsters and challenges. The boss stages can also vary as a result of your choices which I thought was extra cool.

The game is not without its weak points, however. As with most light-gun type games, expect a high level of frustration if you don't shoot as accurate as Dirty Harry, or as fast as a gattling gun. Plus, the points where you can branch off the main story line go by very FAST, and you don't get a second chance at them. Don't blink or you will be getting up off the couch to hit reset a little too often. There is a training mode, and boss practice mode included to help to get your gun skills up to speed. The voice acting is so bad, it is funny at times, but you won't have time to notice as you blast you way through zombie people, fish, snakes, frogs, and big bad bosses.

This game is a great example of what the Dreamcast is capable of, as well as a hell of a lot of fun. If you are looking for a fast moving, green gore splatter fest, this is the game for you. Highly recomended.

Jesse Labrocca

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