System: Xbox 360
Genre: Action/Zombie Apocalypse
When Dead Rising was first announced, it was considered to be nothing more than “the other zombie game from Capcom,” always sitting within Resident Evil’s shadow. After the game was released, however, it quickly became something else: Every zombie fan’s wet dream.
Dead Rising isn’t your typical zombie game, and it’s about as far away from Resident Evil as you could possibly get. Instead of placing focus on eerie music, scripted scares, and cheap thrills, Dead Rising is all about squeezing as many zombies onto the play field as humanly (or otherwise) possible, and they are all there for you to beat, batter, and mutilate at your own free will. Just make sure they don’t get you first.
Dead Rising opens with a helicopter flying high above the ground, composed mainly of mountains. Inside is the game’s main protagonist, Frank West, an ambitious freelance photojournalist with a taste for adventure and a craving for the next big scoop. Pretty soon the ‘copter arrives at a small town called Willamette, Colorado. While flying over Frank notices the army has blocked off all of the roads leading into the town. Something big must be happening.
This is when the game puts the cut-scene in your hands and gives you a taste of the addictive picture-taking gameplay element, tasking you with taking pictures of various gruesome scenes occurring throughout the isolated town. Along your flight you encounter several grisly murders like a woman waving for help whilst standing atop her vehicle, desperate for rescue. You are then forced to watch as she is devoured by a horde of the living dead. Another memorable scene from that first tidbit of gameplay features a citizen fending off a zombie attack on a roof 30 feet or so above the ground. The scene ends with the character falling to his death.
In the first 5 minutes of this game, you know it’s going to be awesome.
After a brief run-in with the air guard, you are forced to jump out of your helicopter so the pilot can retreat out of the town before being shot down. Before taking off, he promises you he will return in three days. This is where the games main mode of play, 72-hour mode, begins. Over the next three days you will encounter a plethora of characters, some sane and some definitely not, in an attempt to find out what’s going on and why. There are some good twists and you never really know what is going on until the very end.
One huge complaint I have with the story mode is the fact that there is very little time allowed for unguided discovery and adventure. Right when you embark on a rescue mission you notice you are running out of time to perform a required task, which usually requires you to be at a certain place at a very specific time. If you aren’t there, you are forced to restart if you want to uncover the truth behind the infection.
Another gripe is the save system. Saving is handled either through sleeping or going to the bathroom, fairly common in the video gaming world. The problem is the endless legions of undead, walking corpses plaguing the path in between you and sanction. You’ll often times die trying to find a place to save your game or on your lengthy journey to the next story event, which is a huge pain in the ass because of the game’s lack of checkpoints. This forces you restart at every death or failed story event, which can be absolutely infuriating if you haven’t saved your game in a while.
The Willamette mall is astonishingly huge, especially for being in a town who’s major distinguishing features, as described the pilot at the beginning of the game, “Jack shit.” And when I say it’s huge, I mean it is huuuuge! And it has just about everything imaginable in it, too. It’s no wonder there’s nothing else in the town. You’ll find a plethora of entertainment stores, guitar stores, camera stores, clothes stores, kids’ stores, restaurants, and accessory stores strewn about multiple levels and separated by a huge contained park in the middle of the mall.
And the really amazing thing is that you can fully interact with every store in the gargantuan mall. Find hats to wear, sport some slick shades, grab a bite to eat. Hell, you can even dress Frank up entirely in a MegaMan suit if you can find it.
The stores you’ll really want to find and mark on your map, though, are the hardware stores and the gun store, the latter of which is possibly the best department to know the location of and both are ample sources for some of the most powerful weapons in the Willamette metropolis.
When roaming the mall you’ll have to use anything and everything you can find in any of these aforementioned stores to to fend off zombie attacks, which will be plentiful. There can be hundreds upon hundreds of zombies on-screen at any single moment, and the halls and corridors of the Willamette Shopping Center are always filled to the brim with legions of undead corpses looking for some hot flesh to devour.
And when I say “anything and everything” will need to be used in your struggle to stay alive, I mean “anything and everything.” Capcom managed to create an absolutely marvelous amount of items in the game that players will need to improvise and turn into weapons. From buckets and chainsaws to mannequins and plastic lightsabers, you can pick up just about anything and use it to bash the brains out of the living dead.
Aside from mutilating zombies, Dead Rising provides gamers with an interesting photography element which requires you to get the best pictures of various scenes to get the most PP you possibly can. PP, or Prestige Points, are awarded for every action performed, and once you gain enough of them you’ll level-up and gain more health, inventory space, or a new ability which will make conquering the zombie-infested shopping paradise that much easier.
After the 72 Hour mode is completed, which only takes about 8 or 9 real hours, players will unlock Overtime Mode, which can be conquered in around 2. After the story is completely finished, players will then gain access to Infinite Mode, which challenges you to survive for as long as possible before finally biting the dust.
In terms of graphics, Dead Rising is a true technical masterpiece. It may not be the most gorgeous game of all time, but just wait until you find your way into the underground parking garage, where countless numbers of zombies roam. You’ll be absolutely blown away at the sheer amount of characters Capcom managed to squeeze on-screen at once.
It also possesses a solid audio design, and the smashing of a sledgehammer into the soft skull of a zombie has never sounded so good. The voice over, however, is pretty inconsistent throughout the game. It ranges between excellent and B-Grade. The greatest moments of voice acting are achieved, of course, during the main story’s cut scenes while the bad acting comes from all of the extra characters you save in the game.
All in all, Dead Rising has an amazing amount of entertainment value. Though the mere 10 hours of story may seem underwhelming by most standards, it’s the Infinite Mode that gives players the ultimate zombie-slaying experience. It’s this mode that finally allows you to explore the Willamette mall without running out of time and being forced to to participate in the story events scheduled throughout the main mode. This provides unlimited time for discovery and adventure throughout the zombie-ridden mall.
A final note worth mentioning is that every achievement, no matter how easy or difficult to acquire, is worth 20 G. This provides little inspiration to continuously play the game in an attempt to unlock the hardest achievements.
Dead Rising sure came a long way since being labeled as a cheap, repetitive beat-em-up knockoff of Capcom’s real zombie game, Resident Evil. It succeeds in being an entirely different, unique, and refreshing experience which proves to be extremely addictive. Despite a few flaws and cheap achievements, Dead Rising is an absolutely astonishing title and one that will keep you coming back time and time again.
- Zombies, zombies, zombies!
- Astonishing amount of enemies on-screen at any given moment
- Just about anything is a weapon
- The Willamette Mall is awesome!
- The addictive photograph-capturing element
- Dressing Frank up like Mega Man
- Only one save slot
- No checkpoints
- Lame achievements
Score: 9.2/10 (Amazing)
Gameplay: 9.5/10 (Kill legions of undead with anything you find in a shopping metropolis)
Graphics: 9.25/10 (While it may not blow your mind on the surface, wait until you see how many enemies it is capable of rendering at once)
Audio: 8.25/10 (Great effects, voice acting ranges from expertly done to pathetically amateur)
Entertainment Value: 9.75/10 (Nearly endless entertainment comes with the nearly endless hordes of undead cannibals)