Gameplay first, as it's easy to sum up. The game takes you through a preset route, and you shoot anything that looks vaguely threatening and watch the gory bits fly. That's the basic premise, but Sega has added a bit of replay value and difficulty by creating alternate routes for you to follow, which are opened up by certain events, such as rescuing various civilians and so on (this can be tough precision shooting is often required). The game is divided into six parts, each ending with a boss showdown of the none-too-pleasant type. Each of the bosses has a weak point, but it's generally really small, fast-moving, and/or well guarded. Offing the bosses can be tough.|
Which really is true for the entire game. THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 is hard. Even with the difficulty level set at rock bottom, the lives set to maximum, along with a total of nine continues, you'll have to work unbelievably hard to reach the finish line in one piece. However, it's not hard in a frustrating kind of way you get the feeling that you'll actually succeed if you persevere.
Graphically, the game is a stunner. I never played the Naomi-based arcade original much, as arcades have pretty much priced themselves out of my life; but judging from what little I've seen of the Naomi-original, this is as close to arcade-perfect as it'll get. The monsters are as huge and beautifully (or should that be horribly?) detailed, and shed their body parts just as gruesomely as they did in the arcade, and the world they inhabit gives the illusion of being solid, rather than just a stack of textured pieces of polygons.
Sonically, THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 is a mixed bag. The sound effects are great, with big, beefy gunshots, moaning zombies, and the whole nine yards. The music, however, is pretty bland, and the voice acting is probably the worst yet. It's so stiff and stilted that it makes the cast of RESIDENT EVIL sound like Academy Award-winners in comparison. Thankfully, it's possible to skip most of the cut-scenes with a quick jab at the gun's B-button.
And speaking of the gun, it's a fairly good piece of hardware. It's not as accurate or as cool looking as Namco's GunCon, but it makes up somewhat for that by including a couple of innovative features; a slot for either a VMS or a Puru Puru-pack, and a D-pad just above the handle. If you can't afford to fork out for the more expensive gun-and-game version of the game, you'll be happy to hear that THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 works just fine with the regular Dreamcast joypad as well. In fact, precision shots are easier with the joypad than with the gun. But, let's face it, it's not the same without the gun...
Is it worth buying, then? I say yes, but your mileage may vary. If lightgun games are your thing, then you probably didn't even need to read this review, but you'll be happy to hear that Sega has included a bunch of additional modes to increase the game's longevity. The same also goes for people who can't stand lightgun games at all THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 is not likely to change your opinion; it's not innovative or different enough from other lightgun games to do that. It's just a lot more gory. And fun as hell