Video Game Review: Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop
Dead Rising was one of the early darlings of the Xbox 360 software lineup. The cross between State of Emergency and Dawn of the Dead provided some harrowingly sick thrills, while filling a void in the release calendar. Now it comes to Nintendo's Wii, and clobbering zombies in a video game takes on a whole new meaning. Investigating a scoop in the sticks of Colorado, photojournalist Frank West doesn't really know what he's getting himself into. Well, that is until he spies zombies shuffling through the streets. The government forces his chopper to land on the roof of a shopping mall, leaving Frank with 72 short hours to get his story, and three long days to try and survive.
Frank's not the only human in the shopping center. There's a faction of secret agents searching for the key to the mystery, and plenty of helpless mall employees that Frank can rescue and take to a safe haven. Not to mention a group of nefarious villains bent on stopping Frank and his allies at all costs. What's most surprising about Dead Rising's story is that it's full of comedy. If you're expecting a glum adventure, you'll certainly be surprised.
The real strike against the story is that it's basically the same exact concept behind George Romero's 1979 horror classic, Dawn of the Dead. Capcom has already proven that it's capable of creating its own zombie-driven prose, so it's confusing as to why it decided to so shamelessly borrow for this game. The Wii version includes no new plot twists or story arcs.
Ninety percent of the objectives involve either rescuing someone in distress or picking up an item in one spot and taking it to another. It's easier said than done when there are scores of zombies in between.
With all the carnage going on around you, it's easy to forget that the real reason Frank is in the mall is to get his story. In the 360 version you took photographs that were graded using an elaborate rating system. It's inexplicably been completely removed. Considering Frank is a photojournalist, it makes no sense whatsoever. It was one of the more interesting features of the original, so it's a shame that it's gone.
Believe it or not, the game includes some RPG elements. Everything you do--from dropping zombies to completing missions--rewards you with points. These points then randomly upgrade Frank's abilities. You won't be grinding him up to a level 20 paladin, but his health meter will increase, he'll learn new combat moves, and he'll obtain new slots for weapons and items.
Dead Rising's design is far more robust than you'd expect. The environments are a little repetitive and the dearth of escort missions can get old, but the amount of choice you have in how you play the game more than makes up for it. You lose a little something with the photo element missing, but with multiple save slots available it's easier to go back and make different choices.
As you might imagine, the gameplay has been changed drastically. Basic melee attacks are still performed using the A button, but when you have an enemy downed you can use gestures to pull off crazy finishers with some of the objects. It's fun and it makes sense, but having to press two buttons at once to open doors or pick things up does not.