The term "grindhouse" comes from back in the 1970's, when your local theatre would play double features of various movies that featured bizarre subject matter and were typically of dubious quality. More recently, in homage to the long-dead 70's movement, it was the name of a double feature directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Grindhouse is all about over the top acting, and lots and lots of over the top violence. Which, as it turns out, is a very apt description of The House of the Dead - Overkill Extended Cut...
The game was original released on the Wii, however this new PS3 version has had the HD treatment. It comes packing much-improved cutscenes, two extra levels, and some additional in game features. Not familiar with the title? It's an “on rails shooter”, where you are taken through various horrific levels while blasting hordes of undead - all while racking up the biggest score possible.
Weapons include your trusty magnum, flesh disintegrating shot gun, machine gun, and a crossbow. You can upgrade these to do more damage, add additional ammo capacity, and increase reload speed. There are also unlock items that - if you shoot them - can put the game into slow motion for a limited time, allowing you more leeway to make those oh-so-important head shots.
Although the game can be played using the standard PS3 controller, we highly recommend using the PlayStation Move - and, for the sake of ambiance, one of the gun-shaped holder things for it. The game is all about quick aiming and shooting; while you can technically play on a standard controller, it is a frustrating experience. That said, your aim doesn't need to be too accurate - the aiming reticule that you must line up on your would-be targets is quite large, and when there is no time to reload you can quickly change out to your second weapon.
As you complete a screen full of bad guys, the game moves you to the next - with more and more enemies to kill. It sounds repetitive, however we never tired of blowing away one after another of the flesh-eating mutants.
The enemies themselves come in the bog-standard "infected civilian" zombie variety, the larger "beer-gutted red neck" zombie, and the more tantalising “if only she wasn’t a zombie, I'd hit it” nurse and stripper. The sexual content and level of gore justify the game’s R18 rating by themselves - however it’s in the profanity division where it really kicks the censor in the nads.
The audio is liberally sprinkled with words such as Melon Farmer, Artichoke, Tatties and Butteries to just name a few. There are classic lines like “I am going to stick this gun so far down his throat I will have to force my hand up his artichoke to pull the trigger” [Editor's note: in the interest of our younger readers stronger vegetable references have been removed]. There is so much profanity, in fact, that this game once held the world record for the most profanity in a game. It is very much tongue in cheek, though, and totally in the style of the genre.
The same can also be said about the graphics. The whole game evokes the era of scratchy film stock, scratchier voice overs, corny monsters, and even cornier storylines. As if to reinforce this point, the two new levels - called Creeping Flesh and Naked Terror - introduce Varla Gunns and Candi Stryper, the latter of which is all tatties and butteries.
The central characters - Agent G and Detective Isaac Washington - fit right in. Issac, for example, cannot string a sentence together without making a reference to melon farming. There are some seriously twisted boss fights to contend with (body parts and hospital furniture as missile weapons in one such encounter); however the overall pace of the game is not too difficult and - like all good zombie games - it is all about the mindless killing in the end.
While it's true that the market is currently experiencing a bit of a glut in the Zombie genre, in our view the modern take of most of these games is not a patch on the old B-Movie style. So, Melon Farmers, if you want a game filled with blood and tatties, get your artichoke down to the store and grab this one.