Dead Rising... *WHACK!* Dead Falling...
Y’know, zombies seem to be common place in pop culture nowadays. Not only are they the staple of every B-grade, low budget horror film ever created in the history of everything, but the little rotting blighters also appear in lots of video games as well. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re always universally evil (with the exception of the Stubbs the Zombie game, where you play as the decomposing zombie), perhaps it’s because zombie AI logic is easier to program and thus they can spend more time on other things.
Most likely though, it’s because you fight them en masse (read: you fight lots simultaneously). Honestly, when was the last time a zombie went solo? They’re union workers, they are.
Thus is the beauty of Capcom’s latest foray into the zombie lifestyle, known as Dead Rising. (I say latest as Capcom also brought us the wonders of Resident Evil, one of the best known zombie games out there.)
For fans of the movie Dawn of the Dead, you already know the basic plot. You play as Frank West, a photojournalist who travels by helicopter into the town of Willamette, California. Apparently, the entire town’s been quarantined due to some unusual goings on, and you want to know why the government’s keeping it all hush-hush. You get dropped off onto the roof of Willamette Mall, where you learn that most of the town has become shambling zombies, and now you have to survive for 3 days in the mall, get the scoop and leave with your brains still inside your head whilst using only your trusty camera and whatever you can find in the mall.
This is where Dead Rising really comes into its own. You can spend that 3 days in whatever fashion you want. Do you want to get the survivors of the zombie infestation into the one safe area in the mall? OK! Do you want to solve the mystery of why there are zombies in the town? Go right ahead! Do you want to throw caution to the wind and lay the smackdown on some undead hordes? You can do that.
You’ll have fun doing it too, given what tools of zombie death you can find. From things that have no use whatsoever, such as water pistols and a Mega Man blaster, to the more deadly instruments such as lead pipes, chainsaws, excavators and scythes. Weapons only last a small amount of time, however, and once they’re broken you’ll need to find something else to whet your appetite for zombie carnage. Most weapons can be thrown (not including guns), and sometimes weapons work better in this manner. Swing the Rat Stick, and they won’t take much damage. Throw it, and you’ll impale the zombie with it. Fun, in a gory and sadistic kind of way.
Not that zombies will be the only ‘people’ you encounter. There are regular people in that mall too, and it’ll be up to you to find them. The others will consist of either one of two basic types: Survivors and Psychopaths. Survivors are helpless people who need your escort in order to get them to the safe area in the mall. Psychopaths are sadistic people who were either driven insane by the zombies, or are using the confusion to fulfil their own evil agendas. They serve as the games boss battles, so be prepared for a tough fight when you get to them.
Visually, Dead Rising performs very well, and the game runs smoothly even when the screen is stocked to the gills with the shambling hordes. Weapons look and sound authentic, and you can’t help but wince everytime you watch as your katana or battle axe cleaves a zombie clear in half. Nothing overly breath-taking, but it’s definitely not an ugly game. Well, aside from the zombies, but that’s not the game’s fault. My main gripe with the game graphics wise is that there aren’t that many different zombie models. You’ll find yourself cleaving the same zombie again and again and again. Also, and this is just me talking here, but Jesse, one of the main survivor characters in the game, seems to have a head that is too young for the rest of her.
Audio wise, the game is rather under stated, with little music and what-not. This is one game where you’ll be relying on the 360’s music playing capabilities. I must admit that I was disappointed at Capcom in this regard; their Devil May Cry series showed that they knew how to make a good audio soundtrack to accent the mass slaughter of anything unholy. In fact, I have a couple of tracks from the third game on my USB, and they worked really well in Dead Rising.
In terms of achievements, Dead Rising is well endowed. You have the ‘Just play it normally and you’ll get this’ achievements such as ‘Finish the regular game mode’, you have your ‘Simple, but easy to miss’ ones such as where you have to place novelty hats onto zombies, there are your ‘You’ll need to work at this to get it’ achievements such as where you change into every set of clothes in the mall (including childrenwear and woman’s attire, which is rather disturbing). Finally, you have the ‘Perfectionist!’ ones such as killing the entire zombie population (that’s about 54,000 zombies)
Multiplayer-wise, there is nothing to write home about, considering there is no multiplayer at all. Personally, if there was a co-op mode, it would have been rad. Imagine you and a buddy grabbing 2x4s and bashing in zombie heads. Alas, that will be in a different game methinks. Still, they left plenty of room for a sequel...
To sum up, Dead Rising is the sort of game you can play any way you want, and is a virtual embodiment of the saying that ‘It’s never a bad thing to have options’.