Daily iPhone App: House of the Dead Overkill - The Lost Reels is gross but innovative
There are some really excellent apps arriving on the App Store tonight (including Firaxis' great Haunted Hollow), but before we tackle that new crop, I did want to mention this app, released last week by Sega. House of the Dead, if you're not aware, is an arcade shooting game, where you take on a whole haunted house full of zombies and demons with a light gun (and usually a friend, if you're playing in an arcade with quarters). House of the Dead: Overkill was a version of the game that came to Nintendo's Wii system a little while back, and this version, sub-subtitled The Lost Reels, is a revamp of that game, made specifically for iOS devices.
Now, this game is gross, and if you've not into gory zombies and bad guys (and girls), then you probably won't get much out of this -- like I said, stay tuned for Haunted Hollow and a few other big releases tonight. But the main reason I wanted to mention this one is that it has one of the best control schemes for a first-person shooter on the App Store I've ever seen.
Most FPS games don't end up quite making the jump over to a touchscreen interface without stumbling. There's two routes devs have gone so far: Either they just go all-in on clumsy and not-so-precise virtual controls, or they try something really nuts (Zynga's The Drowning and Industrial Toys' Morning Star are two upcoming FPSes with innovative control schemes). House of the Dead does have a pretty lame virtual control scheme, if you want to try things that way, but the game also has an accelerator-based control scheme, and that one's really fun. You tilt your iDevice around to guide your target, tap to fire, and the whole thing actually feels very intuitive. It's one of the best ways to play a game like this I've ever seen implemented on iOS.
Unfortunately, the rest of the game is kind of a mess. To stay under the download size limit, Sega has cut off a lot of the in-game dialogue and cutscenes that made the original Overkill as charming as it was, and while the game costs $4.99, you actually have to buy extra levels and content via in-app purchase -- why Sega chose to do these things the way they did, I have no idea. Honestly, I can't really recommend this one at full price, though it's worth a try for a buck or two.
All that said, however, that control scheme is very impressive. If someone can lift that scheme out of this game and put it in a game worth playing, I'd really appreciate that. House of the Dead: Overkill: The Lost Reels is available right now.
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