Review: The House of the Dead: Overkill – The Lost Reels (iOS)

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SEGA’S The House of the Dead franchise has always been a popular arcade game, with ports of the game appearing on a variety of platforms, but in 2009 SEGA released a ‘Wii console’ exclusive entitled The House of the Dead: Overkill, a game which takes place several years before any of the other games in the franchise. This Ios (and Android) release, dubbed The House of the Dead: Overkill – The Lost Reels, is an extension to that Wii exclusive featuring new weapons, new abilities and new levels and despite its portable appearance it provides hours of arcade styled entertainment.

This iOS version of the game features a story mode, whereby players able to take control of fan-favourite G or newcomer Detective Isaac Washington across two stages, as well as a survival mode, whereby players must survive the onslaught of attacking zombies. While the game only offers two different gameplay modes there is enough content and replay value to keep players entertained via the use of Rankings, Achievements, Unlockables and item upgrades.

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Story mode, as previously mentioned, features two stages and these stages are broken down into five levels. As it stands a third stage, entitled Naked Terrors, can only be unlocked via in-app purchase which means that for an additional £1.49 / $1.99 you can have the full experience. While this is cheaper than other portable arcade games (Time Crisis Second Strike) I’m puzzled as to why this level is sold separately instead of being included as part of the main game, as it is available for selection from the main story menu. In regards to the five individual levels per stage each level will give the player an overall finishing rank, a rank which is created by how well you have performed in the level, such as Combos, Health lost, Accuracy and Secrets uncovered. The better a player preforms in a level the better rank you will receive.

Along with the rank players are also awarded ‘Kash’, an in-game currency that can then be used to purchase new weapons and upgrades from the shop. These weapons and upgrades can be used in any of the gameplay modes, thus making the game slightly easier. Purchasing upgrades are an important part of the overall game as not only does it provide replay value to those wanting to experience new gameplay styles, but it also makes the harder levels easier to play – especially with weapons such as the Gattling Guns available for purchase. It’s not just weapons that can be purchased either as items including a Health Booster and Vectorman’s Ball gun are also available for purchase; yet again further adding to the replay value of the game.

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Story Mode and Upgrades aside it is worth mentioning the Survival Mode, a mode where you fight wave after wave of ever increasing zombies. This particular mode is a similar approach to Gears of War’s Horde mode, whereby waves of attacking enemies will appear and the further you play into the game the faster and stronger the enemies become. Weapon upgrades also play a vital role in this mode, as while the standard pistol is effective it is not efficient enough to deal with the later waves of enemies. Futhermore any highscores earned within this mode can be uploaded to the gamecenter leader boards for comparison with friends and other players.

While it is important to have a variety of gameplay features and upgrades it is the ease of playing the game that makes The House of the Dead: Overkill – The Lost Reels such a joy to play, especially in small locations. As per usual the game features an ‘on-the-rails’ mechanic, so players follow a strict path set by the developers, however in order to play the game players must use the on-screen buttons. On the right hand side of the screen is the Fire, Reload, Grenade and Weapon Switch buttons and by tapping the button it will perform that action. In order to move the cross-hairs across the screen players must use the open area located in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen and in doing so the cross-hairs will move across the screen.

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As a whole House of the Dead: Overkill – The Lost Reels provides the ideal arcade experience in the palm of your hand with added features to improve replay value, furthermore the game is dual-device-supportive meaning for one price you will receive the iPhone and iPad editions of the game, with the iPad HD edition offering the better gameplay experience.

Pros:

– Choice of Playable characters
– Variety of gameplay Modes & stages
– Simple, effective gameplay
– Upgradable weapons & abilities
– Unlockable Achievements
– Online Leaderboards
– HD Graphics
– One Purchase supports both iPhone & iPad

Cons:

– Naked Terror Level requries additional purchase (despite being on menu-screen)
– It’s a relatively short game

Overall: stars-10-8

The House of the Dead: Overkill – The Lost Reels is now available from the iTunes App Store & Google Play Store.