Review by BoyLover X

"The first unbiased review (and comparison with the 360 version)"

Before you read this review, keep in mind that I played and enjoyed the Xbox 360 Dead Rising a lot. I did everything possible in the Xbox 360 version (every Achievement) and consider myself to be an expert. I like both the 360 and the Wii a lot, and I am not biased in favor of either one, so I hope this review will be enlightening for both Xbox 360 gamers who are curious about the differences in Chop Till You Drop, and for Wii owners who are new to Dead Rising and want to know whether or not it's a good game.

It seems like the Wii has missed out on a lot of third party games due to the graphical differences between it and the PS3 and Xbox 360. Most multi-platform developers have been focusing on the PS3 and 360, while usually skipping out on a Wii version of their games, or making a half-hearted attempt by creating a PS2 version they can port over to the Wii. So it was very surprising that Capcom announced they would bring Dead Rising, previously an Xbox 360 exclusive, over to the Wii. Once details emerged, it was clear that Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop would not be a port in the usual sense of the word. It ended up being more of a remake, and in some ways a very different game altogether.

Dead Rising: CTYD follows the story of Frank West, a photographer who follows a tip that something big is going to happen in Willamette, Colorado. A helicopter pilot drops him on the roof of the mall, promising to come back in 3 days. It turns out the big story is a zombie outbreak, and Frank teams up with a couple of government agents to discover the truth behind the epidemic. He's not afraid of the situation, since he's covered wars (ya' know?). Throughout the game, you'll have to investigate the outbreak, locate and rescue friendly survivors (while fighting the insane ones), and find a way to stop the mastermind behind the incident. I won't give away anything more, but the story is surprisingly good. It's certainly deeper than just "zombies in a mall".

The design of the game and goals are pretty much the same as the Xbox 360 version of the game, but there are several big differences between it and the Wii version. The first difference you'll notice is that Chop Till You Drop runs on the same game engine as Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition. The movement of your character uses the often criticized "tank" controls, meaning that your character movement is a bit stiff; you can run forward, turn (a bit slowly) to the sides, and walk slowly backwards. There's also the quick 180 degree turn from the Resident Evil games. This is a downgrade compared to the Xbox 360 game, which had true analog movement (press in the direction you want to go, and you'll automatically turn and run to that side of the screen). However, Resident Evil fans should not have any problem getting used to it.

The Wii version also has a bigger emphasis on guns (thanks to the Wii remote's accurate aiming), but melee weapons will still be the preferred weapon of choice most of the time. The inventory system has changed completely. The game now pauses while you select your items. You start out with more inventory slots than the 360 game, and on top of that certain weapons will now "stack". For example, you can carry a bunch of saw blades in a single item slot. Boxes of ammunition will not take up any extra inventory space; new inventory slots are created when you pick up a new type of ammo. Yes, you read that correctly. They actually added ammo to this version of the game so you can reload guns instead of throwing them away when your clip is empty. The Wii version lets you keep your guns and collect ammo from dead enemies to reload them. New guns can be purchased at the weapon store, where Cletus has essentially become the Resident Evil 4 merchant. Many of RE4's weapons have been added into this version of the game, a welcome feature since the original had only a handful of guns and you never upgraded to better versions.

Once you get past the opening sequence of the game, you'll start receiving missions. You follow an on-screen arrow to your goal and see the next story sequence, fight a boss, or rescue survivors (who usually act like idiots) and bring them back to the safety of the security room. To get safely from one point to the next, you'll have to slice a path through the undead shoppers, using a variety of firearms or creative melee weapons. I'm happy to report that just about every weapon from the 360 version has returned. You can run over zombies with a shopping cart, cut them up with a chainsaw, knock them down with fire extinguisher spray, bash them with a steel pipe, jam a shower head (!) in them and watch streams of blood pour out... the possibilities are almost endless and usually pretty hilarious. Rescuing survivors quickly while racking up a decent kill count will give you a better ranking on the mission, and you will be rewarded with bonus items and money. Money can then be used to purchase new guns, higher ammo capacity, and special moves at the shop.

Let's talk about the big elephant in the room: the zombies. You've probably seen a lot of screenshots and videos that made the game look downright empty compared to the Xbox 360 version. I can assure you that this is not the case. Of course the Wii can't handle the 200 or so zombies that could be done on the Xbox 360, but things are much better than any of the videos or screenshots have made it seem. Zombies are constantly respawning, and as you move further into an area, more will pop up ahead of you. There were plenty of times I was surrounded. Capcom also decided to make some smart changes to compensate for the lower numbers. Zombies tend to attack you more often, especially later in the game when they start to run very fast at you. A few of the boss fights from the Xbox 360 version have become regular enemies, so you'll have to deal with some "super zombies" that keep things interesting. There are also a couple of types of zombie animals that are completely new. Another change is that many areas are narrower due to some new blockades, which force you to take certain paths where the zombies will be. The final result of all the changes is that the game ultimately forces you to fight tons of zombies (over 4,000 kills in my playthrough, and I tried to run past them whenever possible) and almost always manages to keep the same feel as the Xbox 360 game.

There are a few changes to the game that are very welcome, and make the game much more accessible than the 360 version. For starters, you get more than one slot for saving your game! Another great improvement is that the game is no longer a level grinding fest. You gain experience points for killing zombies, completing missions, and performing "secret actions". In the 360 game, the game was tough to complete if you start a new game, unless you had played before and knew what to do. Normally you would level up a bit, die, save your level status, then start over at a higher level. Without levelling up in the 360 game, you would be very slow at moving, have very weak attacks, low health, no special moves, and not be able to carry many items. In the Wii game you start out at a fast speed, and with a fair amount of item slots and attack power. And now you don't have to level up to increase your health; you'll get mandatory health upgrades as you complete missions. Special moves are purchased at the store in the game. You still level up to increase attack power and item slots, but the emphasis on levelling up has been reduced quite a bit and makes the game balanced and possible to complete without a frustrating 2 hour level grinding right at the start.

Another change made for accessibility is one that I am not fond of. The game no longer has time limits (besides a couple of missions). In the Xbox 360 game, there was a real-time day to night cycle and you would have to play quickly in order to avoid missing a mission. In the Wii version, it's impossible to miss any missions, and you're given unlimited time to complete them, losing the sense of urgency and making the game easier since you can just take the time to fight every enemy rather than having to quickly clear a path and run. I like the idea that you can see all the missions without missing them, but they really should have had a timer for each mission. This is the only aspect where the Wii version of Dead Rising does not live up to the Xbox 360 experience.

EDIT: Upon replaying the game I have realized that there are a few survivor missions that can be missed if you don't play fast enough and earn high scores. This realization was enough to make me change my score from a 7.5 to a solid 8.0. For those who want to fully play the game (do all the missions), having to worry about doing things quickly adds an extra sense of excitement to the game.

In terms of presentation, it's sad to see that Capcom still has not addressed the problems with this game engine. First of all, the RE4 engine was originally made for the GameCube; it's not maxing out the Wii's power. The lighting is a bit drab. It doesn't look as good as Resident Evil 4. If Capcom had made a new game engine built specifically for the Wii, I'm sure they could have made the game closer to the 360 version. Second of all, the game runs at a 640x360 resolution (as opposed to the 640x480 standard that the Wii is capable of) so the game will have plenty of "jaggies", especially on widescreen TVs. It may have been an oversight with RE4: Wii Edition, but the fact that RE: The Umbrella Chronicles and now Dead Rising: CTYD have the same low-resolution issue is simply inexcusable. And last but not least, it seems that Capcom still has not figured out how to create a low-battery warning, so when your Wii remote's juice runs dry, you'll lose control and sit there baffled as the game continues running (rather than pause and wait for you to change batteries like other games) and poor Frank will get eaten as you scramble to change the batteries. Perhaps this was an intentional and genius gameplay "feature" on Capcom's behalf, to add more tension to the game, but I'm just going to chalk it up to a lack of sufficient playtesting and/or lazy programmers.

One great extra feature of the Wii version is the extra missions. In the "Odd Jobs" missions, you'll be placed in an area with predetermined items and weapons and be given a special goal to accomplish, like fighting giant zombies or using a weapon in a certain way. It's a great showcase for the variety of gameplay that the game offers. You can also unlock a set of missions called "Second Amendment" which all involve sniping enemies. There's also tons of unlockables for the story mode: bonus costumes and bonus weapons galore.

The Wii version and 360 version have overlapping successes and failures. 360 gets more zombies at once, but the Wii gets more types and tougher enemies. 360 gets a few more melee weapons, but the Wii gets a few more guns. 360 gets better movement controls, but the Wii gets better aiming controls. Both versions of Dead Rising are great games, and because of the fact that they both have their own pros and cons, I can't recommend one version over the other. You'll have to have BOTH versions in order to get the full Dead Rising experience.

QUICK RATINGS AND FINAL SCORE:

Gameplay - 8.5 out of 10: Killing zombies never gets boring (especially since there are new types of enemies) but survivors sometimes have AI issues. And in all fairness, the game design is repetitive and you'll travel through the same areas a lot. Changes made to the save system, level up system, and game structure are improvements over the 360 version. The Wii version's new content gives the game a fresh feel.

Graphics - 5 out of 10: Textures are decent enough, but the low resolution makes the game a bit of an eyesore. Some of the animations are a little "stiff" too, probably due to the lack of a physics engine.

Sound - 5 out of 10: Good voice acting, but many survivors are not voiced over at all.

Value - HIGH: You'll want to play this game multiple times to find explore, discover secrets, try different weapons, and improve your rankings. There are also great bonus missions to unlock. Plus, the game is priced at $40 instead of the usual $50. It's true that the 360 version is even cheaper, but the Wii version has more content.

FINAL SCORE: 8.0 out of 10

Dead Rising: CTYD is a very good game, speaking strictly in terms of gameplay. The game offers a lot of things to see and do. Killing zombies is fun and never gets old thanks to the huge amount of creative weapons. A good story and fun boss fights seal the deal. The flawed presentation, "short bus" survivor AI, and the removal of the tension-inducing timer are the only real complaints.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/03/09, Updated 03/05/09

Game Release: Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop (US, 02/24/09)


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