Review by Bkstunt_31
"The things Frank will do for a scoop..."
Have you ever wondered what you would do if the zombie apocalypse became real (which we all know it will!). Well, Dead Rising is here to help you navigate through that! While games like Resident Evil might show you how to survive a mansion and deal with puzzles (like that will help), Dead Rising is one of the only game to throw literally HUNDREDS of zombies at you at a time (Besides the FPS Left 4 Dead). Here's what you can expect from Dead Rising:
You take on the role of Frank West, a photo-journalist who has got a "Scoop" from his friend about an incident at a shopping mall in the town of Willamette Colorado where the Army National Guard has sealed the mall off. Enlisting a freelance helicopter pilot, Frank makes his way downstairs to the main foyer and realizes the disturbing truth, that somehow the mall is the center of a zombie outbreak. And, of course, it doesn't take long for the zombies to make their way inside, forcing Frank back to the security room he passed. Thankfully, Frank made preparations to have the helicopter return in 72 hours (one day passes for every two real-life hours).
In the security room, Frank meets some employees of homeland security, Brad and Jessie, who seem to know what's going on in the mall but won't share with Frank. Frank also meets Otis the janitor who shares a map with Frank and also gives him a walkie-talkie to keep Frank in contact with him (as Otis can view the mall through the security cameras). After that Frank decides go out into the mall again by accessing it through the security room's air vents.
The story in Dead Rising is essentially told to you by being in the right place at the right time. The main story requires you to be at certain places throughout the mall to investigate what is happening, but you aren't required to go to these events and if you wait too long (as they are timed), the opportunity to view the stories cut scenes and advance the main plot line will disappear forever. Personally, I felt that you had plenty of time to get to where you needed to be, but the hard part comes when you want to partake in optional side-quests, of which there are many. Otis will occasionally ring you up on your walkie-talkie and inform you of any survivors he's found or of any disturbances around the mall. These side-quest opportunities are also timed and will disappear if you wait too long to act on them. Overall, I found the story to be interesting, and liked how they integrated the main villain into the plow with his grander schemes.
Game Play: 9/10
Before I get into how many cool ways there are to kill zombies in this game, let me go over the quirky parts of Dead Rising first. To start with, Dead Rising incorporates a RPG-like system that allows you to level Frank up by playing the game. In particular, taking pictures earns Frank "PP" points and after obtaining a certain amount Frank will level up (the max level is 50), giving him additional abilities, stats, or inventory slots. Frank's abilities are often based on martial arts or wrestling (like a judo chop or a lariat), and many are very useful while some or only somewhat useful. Also, there is only one save slot in the game, so you have to be sure of yourself when you save the game, as you could potentially be missing out on timed opportunities by saving.
The quirkiest part of the game is that upon dying you can either return to your saved game or you can start the game over while keeping the same level that you died at. Doing that allows you to obtain even more experience than you could have before and become stronger. I won't lie, I probably started the game over at least half a dozen times just for the extra PP, and in became very addictive. In particular, gaining Frank's extra inventory slots is extremely helpful as you start out only able to carry a very limited amount of items. Now let's talk about killing zombies!
Oh, how many ways are there to kill a zombie? Other zombie games would have us believe that guns and knives are the only way, but in Dead Rising you can literally use almost anything to kill the mass of zombies with. As soon as you start exploring the mall, you will quickly realize your vast amount of options. From the sports store with bats and golf clubs to the kid's store with fake Mega Man buster guns and Zero laser swords, Frank can pick up and use just about anything in the store to defend himself with. Of course some items are better than others, and there are some items that Frank can use but can't store in his inventory, such as park benches and cash registers (how cool is it that you can throw cash registers at zombies?!?).
There are also firearms that you can find, but honestly the aiming system is a little weird so I just used melee weapons. You can also visit the myriad of food stores throughout the mall to heal yourself (eating food heals zombie bites, right?), and you can also take food with you. And make sure to visit the bookstores throughout the mall, because as in real life, your items will eventually break, but holding onto certain books will let your items last longer.
As you explore the mall, you'll frequently be paged by Otis, who tells you about survivors or disturbances around the mall that you can check out at any time. The game doesn't care how many survivors you rescue (to rescue them you must escort them back to the security room), in fact the game doesn't even care if you kill the survivors yourself, but rescuing survivors (or taking pictures of their corpses or zombie-selves) will grant you extra PP. You'll also occasionally encounter psychopaths, which are basically the bosses of the game, who are basically humans whose minds have snapped due to their situation, and will attack you with little provocation. Killing psychopaths also grants you PP, and many of them will drop useful tools. Heck, a few even have captured some survivors that you can save as well.
Overall, the game play in Dead Rising is great. However, it's definitely not perfect, and there were a few elements that could have been polished. For example, whenever Otis calls you and you answer, you become COMPLETELY VULNERABLE to zombie attacks. You can't use items, heal, or fight. All you can do is walk and talk, and of course the zombies will attack you no matter what. Another thing that could have used help was the survivor's AI, which has good and bad points. The survivors aren't too smart, if you don't kill the majority of zombies between point A and B, they'll have a HARD time getting through. Some survivors are injured and what not, and are supposed to have a hard time traveling, but even the "fit" survivors who can defend themselves can have a hard time. Also, if you're not playing on a HD (high definition) TV, the written script can be VERY hard to read (due to its small size). The only other thing worth noting is that during the day, the zombies aren't as strong as they are during the night, when their eyes turn red and they become more active and powerful.
The first thing that struck me as awesome with Dead Rising was purely the number of zombies that can be onscreen at any given time (reported to be up to 600, but who's counting?). The characters are extremely well designed and animated, I particularly liked Frank's over-the-top wrestling moves on the zombies (who lariat's a zombie?!). You can also visit the various clothing shops around the mall and change Frank's outfit. The bosses were also very well animated and designed. Zombies were, of course, greatly recycled, but they included so many different zombie models that they never felt rehashed at all. However, the crowning achievement has to be how very detailed the mall itself is, and how you can go in nearly ever store throughout the mall and find so many different items.
The music in the game is pretty interesting. Being in a mall, of course, you'll often enjoy a variety of mall-sounding (or inspired) music tracks, so you can happily hit zombies while whistling away to the rather calming mall music. Of course the mall music is only present during the days, so if you're out at night you're not going to hear anything other than sound effects. The only other time music plays is when you're in a cut scene and fighting one of the game's many psychopaths or discovering something new. These tracks are pointedly different, and are often just alternative rock tracks (which I thank are very catchy and fit the situation nicely).
The sound effects are all rock solid, and I'm sure you'll enjoy the myriad of zombie and melee sounds. My personal favorite was the chainsaw. Voice acting was well done on every character, even the annoying rival-journalist's voice had a quirky charm to it (as long as you don't have to listen to him for a long time).
Well, due to it's save policy, Dead Rising already has a good amount of re-playability built in if you take advantage of the "starting over" feature. Also, you can always see how many survivors you can rescue or try to just flatly rescue them all (which requires some excellent time-management skills). Once you finish the game, you will also access another game mode called "overtime mode", which continues Frank's adventures in a continuations story, which is an excellent way to extend the game play, as it carries on the story and just doesn't throw you back into the game with nothing to do. However, after that you can also play "infinity mode" which is what I just described: throws you into the game with nothing to do!! Well, to be more precise you need to wander around the mall gathering items and food as your health will decrease in this mode (to represent hunger) and supplies around the mall are now limited. You'll also have to battle the game's psychopaths again to survive.
Dead Rising is simply the best single-player, massive zombie game ever. To be honest, it's very difficult to compare Dead Rising to other zombie games, such as Resident Evil (which is supposed to be more of a horror/survival focus and has nowhere near the amount of zombies) and Left 4 Dead (which is a very different type of game play and focused on multi-player and cooperation). However, if you're a fan of the zombie-killing lifestyle, you can't miss Dead Rising. I didn't play it for a long time, which I regret. But if you're like me and you haven't tried it yet, you can find it for very cheap. Also look for Dead Rising 2, which is being developed right now. Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/07/10
Game Release: Dead Rising (US, 08/08/06)
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