Review by gatewalker
Time to break out your handy Zombie Survival Guide, Dead Rising is a game about zombies, and all the ways you can enjoy killing them. You play a reporter who gets trapped in a mall, and has to use the resources of said mall to survive until a helicopter can come and retrieve him. Zombies, malls yeah, I know. It's an absolutely original idea.
Oh hey there Mr. Romero, how yah doin'? No, this game isn't based anything you've ever done. How does one know this? Well, because there is this big huge label on the front cover of the game case saying so. Nope, no ideas stolen here. Notta one. We're Capcom. We invented zombie games. Survival horror too. Never mind what you might have heard about Alone in the Dark.
Almost forgot, you also get to attempt to uncover a governmental cover up of a biological experiment gone wrong. Is that Chris Carter on the phone now? Hold the line please.
Sorry, getting off track here. Bad thing to do I know. Lets' see, you play a reporter who comes to town to investigate a story. Ok got that. You start the game off by flying into a town in a helicopter and as you do, you take pictures of what's going on in town. And at that point, if I really had control of the character, the game would have been over. You see zombies eating people in the streets. You see people falling off of buildings and going splat on the ground as they try to escape zombies. You see all of this VERY clearly because they use this point in the game to train you how to take pictures. Zoom in on a victim, wait for the zombie to bite, and as soon as the blood spurts snap your image. You get more experience points that way. The nastier the photo shot, the more lovely the point payoff.
So you see, unless I had spider powers or could page Superman, there is no way I would have jumped out of a helicopter onto a mall that I had seen was surrounded by zombies. No way. I could only assume that the game's star reporter was blessed with two superpowers of his own: one being extreme non normal stupidity, and other being a cast iron stomach.
I say that bit about the stomach because this is a beautiful game. Well, as beautiful as decapitations, mangled bodies, zombies, blood and gore can be. You'd need a cast iron stomach and will to witness all of that. The game graphics are top notch. Gore aside, everything is very pretty. The biggest problem I had was reading some of the text that would scroll across the bottom of the screen that would often have important information. I've heard you can't even read this scrolling text if you don't have a HD display. I play with a projector that takes up an entire wall in my room, and I still had a hard time reading this text.
The sound is ok. I as I sit here and think about it, I can't really recall any exceptional music in the game. The sound effects were decent. The chainsaw had a nice roar too. The zombies moaned. The people you rescued called for help. The sounds serve their purpose, and that's it.
The level design is very good. You have a full fledge mall to run around in. There is an upstairs, a downstairs, escalators, food court, and even a courtyard park in the middle of the complex. They even give you a map of the mall in the instruction booklet. It really looks like one of those mini maps they hand out at malls. I almost suspect that they used a real mall map as the basis of their in-game mall. Given the complexity and realism of the mall building design, I'm surprised I never found an Orange Julius or Abercrombie and Finch. I'm really rather sad I never found an Abercrombie and Finch in the game. The things I could've done with a chainsaw there
Ok, so, the graphics are good if you have HD. The sound is adequate. The level design makes you feel like you really are in a mall so I'll call that good. That leaves two other bits of criteria to judge. Unfortunately, it is at these two points were the game falters.
Dead Rising could have been an excellent game, but this is another one of those titles that mixes in artificial difficulties with frustrating game flow. Auto saves aside, save points are almost never located conveniently near you. You may find yourself resorting to prayer often because there are many instances where you will complete a difficult mission, only to have to trudge back to your home base because the save point restrooms are located far out of the way. And going back to your home base in the game is bad because that takes a lot of time. Everything is timed in this game. If you try to complete too many of the side missions, you'll quickly find yourself running out of time for the main missions. Of course, if you can't hack it Capcom gracefully allows for you to start the game over while saving your characters level advancements (oh, in case I forgot to mention it you gain levels in the game. More hit points, tote more stuff.) Artificial difficulty: something Capcom is bad for.
Another annoying thing that happens often, are cut scenes that warp you to so some new location without letting you know. Many a time I've failed a mission, or had survivors I was escorting to safety get turned into Zombie Munch!(tm) because I got warped from one side of the mall to another side of mall unexpectedly. This is what happens: you walk into a new section that has some kind of event trigger. The event triggers, you see the event cut scene, and than you are left standing where the scene took place. If the scene doesn't take place where you entered the section at, then you are warped to that location. This is a real problem is you are escorting people. Those people aren't warped with you. Often, by the time you find those people that you were escorting, they've already been turned into Zombie Munch!(tm).
Also, when you clear an area of zombies, as soon as you leave that area and return, it's completely filled with zombies again. They don't slowly trickle back in. They just appear. A zombie insta-hoard. The same thing happens when you save your game. If you kill all the zombies, save your game and exit. When you load your game back up, all of the zombies will have returned, which can really suck if you are low on life when you save. Zombie insta-hoards. Gotta luv em!
The game also has camera and control issues. I had to play with the camera settings to make firearms workable. I never mastered how you shake off zombies. Combat can get very frustrating too. All of your weapons wear out, regardless of what it is. Lead pipe, baseball bat, sledge hammer, thirty strikes and the item is broke. Unless the weapon is ammo based, you never know how long the item will last. Just before the item wears out, it starts to flash in your inventory. After the item wears out, you automatically switch to the next item in your item queue. This gets to be a real issue when you are in the middle of a pack of zombies and are rapidly pressing the attack button. You'll be hitting the button, swinging like mad, your weapon will vanish, and you will find yourself accidentally going through all of your healing items at once because they just happen to be the next item in the item queue. Very annoying.
Oh, the reporter star does one definite super power: strength. He can quite literally pick up a part bench and use it has a club. Thirty times.
Dead Rising does has its moments. It can be fun. Trimming zombies with a chainsaw can be a real hoot. But to enjoy the game fully, you almost have to completely ignore the story.
Just jump in and start swinging. Who cares what tale they are trying to tell.
Romero has probably already said it.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/10/07
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