Product Type: Capcom Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... back and forth to continue with primary missions. Again the time factor plays a part in the secondary missions which which often colli... more
Killing Zombies Has Never Been So Fun!
Dead Rising (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Nosignalinput
Dead Rising (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Zombies, tonnes of weapons, zombies, lashings of gore, and did I say zombies?
Disadvantages: A save system straight out of the Stone Age.
Zombies and video games; two things that are pretty much impossible not to love. When you combine the two you'd expect to get something of epic proportions but, while Capcom's (the developer of Dead Rising) immensely popular Resident Evil series has brought us some stellar video games, this doesn't always go to plan. Part of my disappointment with a lot of zombie games is the lack of, um, zombies. Many zombie movies (such as Dawn of the Dead, which bears such a striking resemblance to Dead Rising that a notice saying the game was 'not endorsed by George A Romero' is printed on its cover) have hordes of zombies present on the screen, which makes Resident Evil's tiny groups pretty lack lustre in comparison. This is where Dead Rising differs from the rest, presenting hundreds of zombies packed into a mall and giving the player free reign to gleefully cut through these hordes.
The story has you as Frank West, a photojournalist who's keen to get the story of his career by investigating a mysterious incident in the town of Willamette. After dropping into Park View Mall from a helicopter the player is given 72 hours (in game time, not real time) to investigate why the residents have started eating each other. This investigation has you completing a series of 'case files' (basically story chapters) that take place at specific times of the day. While these are compulsory if you want to see the end of the story (the helicopter still comes if you choose to ignore them, although you're locked out from continuing the storyline. Only your death actually ends the game) there's also a whole series of optional side missions that give you far more gameplay and further information relevant to the storyline.
The problem with getting to places at a specific time is hampered by the incredibly inefficient save system. You're only allowed one save per storage device, which means most of us are pretty much screwed. If you save (and you can only save in specific places around the mall) without having enough time to get to the next storyline location the game is effectively over for you. Capcom has provided a remedy for this by allowing your skills and levels (a basic RPG style system, you're given more points for taking unique photos) to carry over to a new game. This means that you can get through the missions much easier than before, and if you've completed the story already it also allows you to complete those side missions you missed the first time around (and subsequently get the achievements), as it's nigh-on impossible to complete them all in the first play-through. It's frustrating but it doesn't mean you should stay away from the game. If you use your head and save when you know you have plenty of time left until the next story mission then you shouldn't have a problem, but part of this does mean dying in a story mission may mean you'll have to play a small chunk again.
Thankfully you'll forget any frustrations when you cut your first zombie in half with a katana. There's so much variety to the way you can dispatch of the walking dead that it hardly ever gets old. A wide variety of shops present in the mall means a wide variety of weapons are available to Frank. Step into a sports outlet and pick up a baseball bat or a golf club, while a hardware store gives you access to the awesome smashing power of the sledgehammer or the raging blood-fest of the chainsaw. Even the toy shop provides you with weapons, and there's nothing more fun than throwing a Frisbee at a zombie wearing a Lego head. Aside from weapons you can even clothe Frank in kid's clothes...um...if that's your thing. While there are also guns you can't really beat splatting a zombie in the face with a cream pie, and you know that when playing Resident Evil you'll wish you can use one of Frank's many melee moves (as seen in the screenshot above).
Since dispatching zombies is so easy (yet so fun) you'd be forgiven for thinking that they can become a minor annoyance compared to some of the 'psychopath' boss characters that you have to deal with. Since they can be hundreds of zombies on screen at once (when you get into the maintenance tunnels you'll see the awesome amounts of zombies that the engine can render) they can easily block your way from one section of the mall into another. Weapons don't last forever so you'll have to make intelligent use of the item slots available to you (thankfully they do increase with Frank's level) if you don't want to get stuck in the middle of a horde with little health and only Frank's hands. The zombies become even more of a hindrance when you consider the side missions that have you escorting survivors around. While you can arm some survivors with weapons others need to be held by the hand (literally) and the injured have to be carried. When you're escorting one it isn't that hard, but with a group of survivors you can quickly lose track when you're mobbed by hordes of zombies. To be honest sometimes I just wanted to leave them as a snack for the zombies, in the coming zombie apocalypse it's every man for himself, isn't it?
None of these things matter as there's so much fun to be had, and so much content to have this fun in. Even after you've completed the storyline you've still got all the side missions you couldn't get the first time around, you've got the overtime mode that gives you two extra hours of storyline, and you've also got the infinite mode that strips all storyline elements but tasks you with surviving in the mall with your health slowly draining. On top of all this there's also the leaderboards and the normal achievements for you to get. There's a lot of fun to be had chopping up zombies in a shopping mall, so you can easily forgive things that are only niggling annoyances in the end. Now that the game is as low as £14.99 (although I saw it for £12.99 on Amazon Marketplace) there's easily enough content for your money, and far more after that. It's one of those games that you need to own for the Xbox 360 as it really emphasises just what the console can accomplish - and you can whack a zombie in the head with a frying pan!
For those of you who own a Wii a version of Dead Rising (Chop Till You Drop) is currently available. For me it pains me to see this as the whole 'hundreds of zombies on screen' thing has to be severely reduced due to the lower processing power of the Wii when compared to the 360. The photo aspect has also been dropped (which makes the whole point of Frank being a photojournalist pretty redundant), as has the 72 hour time limit. However, for sheer zombie killing it should be good enough for people who only own a Wii, but if you also own a 360 it's pretty obvious which version you should go for.
Originally reviewed by myself at one of my video game blogs (http://tinyurl.com/d4za3m).
Summary: Incredibly fun with an intriguing storyline and multiple ways to dispatch of the living dead.