Review by horror_spooky

"Zombie Auschwitz"

I have always had a deep faith with Capcom when it comes to horror-themed video games, and for good reason. It would be a challenge to try to find a Resident Evil game that didn't provide that strangely addicting gameplay or a Devil May Cry game (yes, even the infamous second installment) that didn't showcase some of the oddest demonic creations ever. Coupled with classic series like Mega Man, Capcom is a powerful gaming figure, and I am rarely disappointed with the titles that they provide. That being said, Capcom once again kept my faith alive with their newest dive into the horrific occult nature of the living dead – Dead Rising.

Amazingly, all it takes is the thought of Dead Rising to get a gamer excited for it. Seriously, I have never been more pumped for any video game in my entire life, and that's something to say, because I've played a LOT of video games in my time. If you've been living under a rock, the basic concept of Dead Rising is that you are in a mall filled with zombies (Dawn of the Dead anyone?) and almost anything can be used as a weapon.

It is very true that almost ANYTHING in the environment that you can see can be used to defend yourself against the zombie hordes that have taken over the ill-fated mall, but you cannot fully enjoy this adventure until you go through it and die a few times. The game is set up for the player to fail at least once the first time through (when you die, the game encourages you to save your status, like your amount of health and skills, and the start the game over with that status, thus effectively making the game easier and easier as you repeat this process), and this might be a turn off to most players. I don't know how many people played Dead Rising as far as they could go, died, and then gave up, but that's not the way the game was meant to played, and if you give the game that extra chance, I'm sure any gamer would quickly fall in love with the simple entertainment the title provides.

Character customization is also at a pretty decent high, as you can try on a lot of outfits around the mall as well as change things like your hair color. Who doesn't giggle at a bald photojournalist in a dress decorated with roses? If you know someone that doesn't, I would take them to a clinic to get checked out, because if you don't find that in the least bit funny, then there is something seriously wrong with your mind.

Yeah, you're a photojournalist (a fact that the main protagonist you play as, Frank West, brags about like he's a freaking trained rescuer or something) in Dead Rising, so obviously you can take pictures. Different things are taken into account when you take a picture and as you earn experience points for that certain picture like how scary a picture his, how violent a picture is, how sexy a picture is, and how funny a picture is. Honestly, I sometimes found the camera as a gimmick, but it did provide some laughs early on.

How could zombies possibly be sexy though? Well, the mall isn't filled with only zombies (that would be rather boring, wouldn't it?). Just like in any good zombie flick, there is a group of ragtag survivors that have to learn to get along fast in order to deal with their new and deadly situation. Since the game's main storyline is set on a clock timeline (that means that it has to be a certain time in the game for an event to occur), the developers needed to think of a good distraction for the players while they wait patiently for the story to progress. Well, you will receive radio calls when the janitor notices survivors hanging around in the mall, and these survivors are sometimes hostile. You can save most of the survivors and take them back to the security room or you can kill them. Other survivors aren't as cooperative and are labeled as psychopaths in-game. There are some pretty creepy psychos in the mall, and I have to say that Dead Rising has been the first game in a long time to provide a good genuine “what the hell” moment for me. That being said, the AI of the survivors is dreadful, and it's usually hard as hell to drag them all the way back to the security room as they will run into walls or try to fight zombies when there is no reason to. Sadly, this does take away a large chunk of the possible fun factor that Dead Rising could have easily generated.

I mentioned earlier that you can obtain experience points, so there is obviously a leveling-up system featured in Dead Rising. By rescuing survivors, taking pictures at opportune moments, defeating psychopaths, or finding clever means of killing zombies, you can gain experience points, which, obviously level you up. When leveling up you can earn an extra square of life, be able to hold more items, improve your stats, or learn some pretty creative moves for Frank to execute on the swarms of zombies. Learning these moves does take some time, however, and since there are so many, it's easy to forget that you even have a certain move unlocked.

With all that said, the story in Dead Rising was sub-par at best. There are some twists found throughout the game, but I found it hard to actually care what was going on story-wise. Also, there are just way too many zombie-movie clichés in some of the cut-scenes that I was on the verge of tears. I don't know what their problem is, but Capcom seems to have problems in their writing department, and I think that those problems might need some looking into.

Dead Rising is not the prettiest game on the Xbox 360, in fact, it's probably one of the worse-looking, but that is probably because of the amazing number of zombies that can appear on screen at one time. There is a LOT, trust me, and I'm sure that you'll be blown away when you see. Still, there were some graphical problems like objects going into other objects and freezing, things like that, that I think were totally unnecessary for a next-generation title.

Considerably, there is a lot of text in Dead Rising that is nearly impossible to read, since most of the voice-acting is saved for the cut-scenes. Of course, if you have an HDTV, you won't have problems reading the text, for all of those people that have standard television sets, there will be some major problems with this, and it also ruins some of the experience that could have been one of the most memorable games ever created. There were some songs found throughout the game that I believed were kind of catchy, but the game could have used licensed tracks—that would have been awesome.

Unlockable items and modes are abundant in Dead Rising, just like any other Capcom title. However, some of the unlockable modes are just irritating and don't really provide that much fun, and some of the items take too much time and hassle to unlock to really be worth it at all. There are multiple endings found in Dead Rising, but most of these are pretty much alike, which is kind of disappointing.

Dead Rising proved to be an impressive and enjoyable experience, but there were just those flaws that were significant enough to bring the game down from legendary status to just good status. If the game was friendlier towards standard televisions text-wise, the AI was drastically improved, a multiplayer mode was added, and if there were more worth-it unlockable features to add replayability then Dead Rising could have easily earned a perfect score. I hope that Capcom takes these suggestions in mind if they create a sequel to this genius, but flawed, next-generation zombie title.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/22/07

Game Release: Dead Rising (US, 08/08/06)


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