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House Of The Dead Overkill iOS review: Less is gore

If these are truly The Lost Reels, we weren't missing much

House Of The Dead: Overkill is arguably the finest lightgun shooter of this generation. Unfortunately, this iOS port, while decent enough, doesn't really do it justice.

For those not familiar with it The House Of The Dead: Overkill was part of the brief rebirth of the lightgun genre - along with the likes of Dead Space: Extraction and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles - that came about as a result of the Wii Remote and PlayStation Move's pointer controls.

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What made it so entertaining was its '70s grindhouse art style, its comical overuse of swearing (for a time it held the Guinness World Record for most swearing in a game, with 189 uses of the f-bomb alone), and its outrageous plot involving a creepy scientist who loved his mother a little too much.

All of that has been removed in the iOS version, dubbed The Lost Reels. Instead, what you're left with is a basic plot with static comic-style screens and a couple of swears (the f-word isn't nearly as entertaining when written down), no in-game voice acting, and a complete butchering of the plot, due mainly to the fewer levels on offer.

The Wii version of Overkill featured seven lengthy stages, while the subsequent PS3 Extended Cut had nine in total. This iOS version offers a paltry two levels for your £2.99, with the option to buy a third for £1.49.

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There are only a few zombie types, making for the occasional awkward battle against undead octuplets

Each stage is split into smaller bite-sized levels, each lasting a few minutes, to make the game better suited for playing on the move. This works well enough, and is particularly appreciated because of the game's new damage mechanics.

In the console versions, if you died you could continue with a hefty chunk removed from your score as payment. This time there are no continues, so when you die you have to start from scratch. Splitting the game into smaller levels makes this less frustrating, though the not-quite-perfect controls do ensure at least some degree of irritation.

There are initially two control methods to choose from - one using the accelerometer and the other using a virtual pad. The former is a bit of a mess, making the on-screen cursor so shaky that accurate headshots (which are important in this game) are too difficult to pull off, through no fault of your own.

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The virtual pad, meanwhile, is surprisingly decent, with the left thumb used to move the cursor and shoot and reload icons on the right-hand side. Shot accuracy is greatly improved with this method, though it can sometimes be annoying in more frantic situations with multiple zombies because it's hard to move the cursor quickly across the screen.

When you complete both levels you then unlock the 'finger frenzy' mode, which is just a fancy way of saying 'tap to shoot'. This is the easiest and most satisfying way to play, and is particularly handy in the more frenetic Survival mode, in which zombies come in infinite waves and you have to earn the highest score possible.

As a lightgun shooter on iOS, Overkill is fine. It passes the time well enough and the survival mode gives a much-needed longevity boost to the disappointingly short main game.

An extra £1.49 charge to unlock the third stage is silly though, and if Sega plans to add more levels in this way (though nothing's confirmed yet) we disapprove. After all, at a current total cost of £4.48 it's already more expensive than second-hand copies of the infinitely better Wii and PS3 versions.

The verdict

A decent enough lightgun shooter but it's a mere shadow of the game it claims to be a port of. Disappointingly limited.

  • Looks detailed and smooth
  • Survival mode ensures longevity
  • Main levels are far too short
  • Controls aren't ideal
  • Lacks the console versions' charm
6
Format
Apple iPad
Developer
Unknown
Publisher
Sega
Genre
Shoot 'em Up

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