The House of the Dead III is a light gun arcade game with a horror theme, and the third installment to the House of the Dead series of video games, developed by Wow Entertainment and Sega. It was released in arcades in 2002 and ported to the XBox in the same year. It was released for the PC in 2005, was updated for a re-release in a compilation with The House of the Dead 2 for the Wii in 2008, and an HD version would be released for the PlayStation 3 in February 2012 on the PlayStation Network with PlayStation Move support.
The game continues the story of the previous games and introduces new gameplay concepts. Players take control of Lisa Rogan, daughter of Thomas Rogan, the first game's main character, and his former partner G after Rogan goes missing after embarking on a mission into a mysterious facility.
Set in the post-apocalyptic year of 2019, civilization has long since collapsed and the AMS has been disbanded. Former agent Thomas Rogan and his team of highly trained commandos investigate the EFI Research Facility, including Dan Taylor, which may be linked to the world collapse in 2003. Rogan's team falls and Rogan himself is incapacitated by a guard, only to be approached by a mysterious figure.
Contact with Rogan is lost, and two weeks later, his 19-year-old daughter Lisa contacts Rogan's former partner G and asks for his help. The two arrive at the facility with shotguns in hand, eager to discover the whereabouts of Lisa's father.
Notorious for his role in the creation of the original undead horde in the first game in the series, Dr. Curien's motives are explored through flashbacks. Several years before the Curien Mansion case, in an effort to discover the cure to his son Daniel's seemingly terminal illness, he began researching the nature of life and death. Over time however, he got so wrapped up in his research that he planned on using it to change the future, and began to become slowly insane. The genes of both the Magician and the Wheel of Fate, according to Curien, would change the future.
Living in the shadow of her well-known father, Lisa muses with G about how her father put his work before his family, how his time away from home worried her mother, and that didn't even know what her father did for a living. They come into contact with undead creatures such as EFI's giant one-zombie security force Death, who makes two appearances in the game, a giant deformed sloth known as The Fool, and a mutant tendril-plant known as The Sun that had taken over the building's biological laboratories.
After a long struggle, Lisa is reunited with her father, who is revealed to be safe. A man from the shadows appears, introducing himself as Daniel Curien, the son of Dr. Curien, who Rogan claims saved his life. As G leads Rogan to safety, Lisa and Daniel, who has been seemingly cured of his disease, set out to destroy the Wheel of Fate, the final legacy of Dr. Curien. After the scientist's death, he underwent a resurrection in the EFI research facility that would take nineteen years to complete. Daniel hacks the Wheel's programming and awakens it. The Wheel declares that he will destroy and resurrect everything, and engages the two in battle. When defeated, it laments that the world is overpopulated, and that Daniel needs him. Daniel refuses to recognize the being as his father, and together with Lisa, puts it to rest once and for all as a sign of their readiness to confront the uncertain future.
At the game's conclusion, Rogan and G are shown leaving the facility, and it's now nighttime. Rogan thanks G for taking care of Lisa, but G dismisses it, saying that Lisa did a great job taking care of herself. The two ponder whether anything will change, with Rogan concluding that they've done their part, and it's up to the next generation to believe in themselves and walk their own path. As Lisa expressed her trouble understanding what he meant by believing in herself, G jokes that she's starting to sound a lot like her father, which surprises Rogan. One of four endings is then shown.
The game's standard ending shows Lisa and Daniel walking out. For a brief moment Daniel pauses to face the building and bid his father a final farewell, and swears he will not let his father's efforts go to waste. He also mentions that "If humans go down the wrong path again, I'll come back... to this place." Afterward, he and Lisa leave together and go home.
In the game's second and bad ending, Daniel begins to go insane and loses the will to move on, questioning his future. Despite (or maybe because of) the antidote that has cured his illness, a sudden close up of Daniel's face (and an ominous change to the tone of his voice from quiet to deep and monstrous) reveals that he has become a zombie. Lisa screams in the background. It is uncertain what happens to her, G and Rogan in this ending.
In the third ending, Lisa sees her car driving away, thinking that her father is leaving her and Daniel behind. However, Rogan and G are behind them, leaving Lisa and Daniel completely confused. It is then revealed that a zombie is driving away in it. Lisa begins to give chase after the stolen vehicle while shouting "Hey, that's my car you slimy bastards! Say your prayers!" (In the Arcade version she says "Let's keep after him! Say your prayers!") We also see Daniel briefly going after Lisa.
In the fourth ending, a mysterious and unidentified man in a business suit wanders through the laboratory where the final battle with the Wheel of Fate took place. On the floor, he finds one of the small glass vials containing the genes used as Daniel's antidote. Limping on his right leg, he picks up the vial and leaves, muttering to himself, "It appears that he [Curien] didn't understand its true purpose."
The House of the Dead III brought a lot of new features to the series, including.
- An End of Level Ranking System
- A total of four endings
- A standard weapon that is not a pistol
- Being prompted to choose your own path
- Bosses now have an additional attack bar that must be depleted to disrupt their attacks, as opposed to hitting them in their weak spot once.
- Civilians are no longer present, but certain instances require the player to save their partners
- A Time Attack mode, where Dr. Curien would give his analysis of the player's performance
- The Wii version adds the ability to use the gun as a melee attack to block enemy blows, but must be reloaded after every use.
- In some versions of the game, reloading occurs automatically, no longer requiring the player to shoot off-screen.
Chapters & Bosses
- Chapter 0: Reminiscence (No Boss)
- Chapter 1: Chasing Shadows (Death)
- Chapter 2: Bewilderment (Sun or Fool)
- Chapter 3: Sensory Chaos (Sun or Fool)
- Chapter 4: Ultimate Challenge (Death)
- Chapter 5: Wheel of Fate (Wheel of Fate)
- During the game's early stages of development, screenshots were released that revealed the game originally had a completely different appearance than what is seen in the final game. The game originally utilized a colorful cel-shaded visual style that was popularized by Sega's own Jet Set Radio, in contrast to the previous titles that had a more realistic appearance and darker tone. The look was later dropped and the final game looked more in tune with the previous titles, although some of the more colorful elements are retained. An official reason for dropping the new look was not given, but it is widely believed that was due to negative fan feedback, accusations that cel-shading was used as a gimmick to draw in more sales, or that the developers realized the new art style would clash with what had already been established in the series in terms of its themes, mood and tone. Some screenshots of the game in the cel-shaded style indicate it may have been pursued with the XBox release in mind.
- In the same stages of early development, the game was originally marketed as "The House of the Dead 3" as opposed to "The House of the Dead III".
- The new Attack Bar seen during boss battles, in which players must shoot their weak point multiple times and deplete it in order to disrupt their attacks, is a mechanic that was taken from 2000's Vampire Night, a light-gun arcade shooter co-developed by Sega's Wow Entertainment and Namco. Vampire Night shares enough similarities to The House of the Dead 2 that some considered it a spiritual successor or worthy spin-off prior to HOTD3's announcement.
- Speaking of Vampire Night, the "Reload" voice clip from that game is reused in this game.
- The original XBox port included a 13-minute preview at the then-upcoming House of the Dead film, including a behind-the-scenes look with input from director Uwe Boll.
- The XBox version also included a port of the PC version of The House of the Dead 2. When selecting to play it, a unique mini-game would play in which players would time-travel in an elevator from 2019 to 2000, which would occasionally stop for players to shoot zombies and unlock extra content to use in HOTD2's Original Mode. This would be retained in the Wii Compilation.
- This was the last game where Rikiya Nakagawa served as a producer before stepping down as the head of Sega's Wow Entertainment division. Nakagawa was the producer behind several titles developed by AM1, including the previous two House of the Dead installments, The Typing of the Dead, and Zombie Revenge. Seen as the face of the HOTD series at the time, it was also reported that Peter Moore (the CEO of Sega of America at the time) and Nakagawa both made cameo appearances in the House of the Dead film as zombies.