Review by wutangscatt

Reviewed: 03/11/09

Dead Rising stumbles a bit in the transition, but this zombie still has some teeth.

Dead Rising Chop Till You Drop is a port to the Wii of the hit XBOX 360 title.

Story – 7
The story of Dead Rising revolves around government experiments in a small town in Mexico. A survivor of the atrocity spreads a toxin throughout Willamette, Colorado turning everyone into zombies. You play as Frank West, a snarky photojournalist driven to uncover the truth behind what has occurred here at the Willamette Mall. The story works in establishing a few interesting characters and providing a vehicle for the action. You come across a number of crazy “psychopaths” in the mall that help keep things entertaining and unpredictable. The storyline holds some twists and original takes on the old zombie mythos, but when it tries to make satire and observations on the American culture it doesn’t really work. Overall, this was a good attempt by Capcom to make a compelling story and the dialogue and characters certainly make an impression, but you can find better stories in other titles.

Aesthetics – 6
Dead Rising features a sprawling environment for the action to take place. The mall offers a wide diversity of stores such as toy stores, jewelry shops, and food courts which are all very well detailed. The game is presented in a great visual style and it is one of the few successes I can think of on the Wii in going with a realistic look and direction. The game pumps out a fair number of enemies at once with minimal slowdown and Capcom did a commendable job in making you feel surrounded by zombies and other undead.

There are a few drawbacks to the graphics however and it fails to look as pleasing as Resident Evil 4, the game engine that Chop Till You Drop utilizes. The animations are probably the biggest flaw in the game. Transitions between animations are poor and also take a long time to go through, so you’ll press the A button while holding the shovel for instance and you’ll get attacked before Frank follows through with his swing because zombies have a quicker attack animation. The timing of melee attacks is thrown off by animation inconsistencies which will probably make you lean on your guns more often. The movements of enemies are basic and they barely react to you shooting rounds through them. Textures and character models are also pretty flat and ugly and the blood effects, especially when compared with the beautiful headshots of RE4, look pretty archaic. Cutscenes were simply videos ripped from the 360 game as well so you won’t see yourself in the game’s diverse array of costumes which added some fun.

All that being said, Dead Rising still manages to build a decent atmosphere despite looking a bit unattractive.

Sound – 8
The audio package is solid. A pleasant mall tune plays in the background throughout most of your adventure but Capcom also threw in a few licensed tracks that are pretty good. Voice acting across the board is strong and leagues above the older Playstation Resident Evil titles, but I wish there was more of it. Too often you’ll be reading text boxes from the survivors in the mall or Otis and it becomes a bit too much. Sound effects are crisp and varied. The different guns sound powerful and the zombie moans, parrot squawks, and dog barks never become too annoying. Sometimes the game is too quiet which helps the atmosphere of the game and makes it more realistic I suppose, but I would have preferred that there were some more musical selections and tracks in the game to accompany and drive the action.

Gameplay – 7.5
Capcom trimmed down the sandbox gameplay of the XBOX game to a more streamlined action adventure title. You work your way through about thirty main story quests as you approach the crux of the case as Frank. The mall is still very open with just a number of velvet ropelines confining your area of exploration – they basically act to guide you along a path to your objective but they never really feel invasive. Chainsaws, baseball bats, golf clubs, lawnmowers, traffic cones, and an arsenal of firearms are at your disposal from the various shops as you send the living dead back to hell. Shooting is more of a focus in Chop Till You Drop than it was in the previous iteration of the game. The RE4 game engine provides smooth and functional shooting controls even if the quicker enemies like the new poodles and parrots are a bit difficult to line up your sights with due to Frank’s plodding slow motions.

Complimenting the main storyline are a huge number of escort missions – many of them mandatory to proceed. While some of these are fun, there are flatout just too many. You will absolutely grow tired of these by the end of Dead Rising’s adventure. Fortunately, as you proceed into the back half of the story, the number of escort missions is trimmed down.

My other issue comes with a certain enemy that crops up near the end of the game, but to avoid spoilers I will not divulge any details. It’s an enemy that shoots a rapid machine gun at you and with no cover system and Frank’s lengthy reload animations, they commonly just add frustration to what you’re trying to accomplish and take a lot of bullets to bring down. It doesn’t help that there is a difficult-to-see flying enemy that alerts your position to these machine gun wielding jerks so that they home in on your position and blow holes through you.

Chop Till You Drop is a fun game with a fair amount of variety that’s bogged down by a few cumbersome control problems and issues. However, I always felt compelled to finish it and it never becomes super frustrating so if you can navigate through a few problem areas I’m sure that you’ll find a good experience here worth playing.

Lasting Appeal – 9
With Odd Jobs, 2nd Ammendment missions, a ranking system, and an absolute ton of unlockables, Dead Rising Chop Till You Drop offers replayability in spades. If you enjoy this game, there are plenty of compelling reasons to return. Maybe the only problems you could volley at the game are a lack of online and multiplayer features. A cooperative Dead Rising would be fantastic, but what’s here is still tremendous.

Closing Thoughts
While Dead Rising Chop Till You Drop is an all-around good effort that captures the feel of the 360 game, it’s still difficult to call this a must-buy. Capcom has focused the game and added a much-improved save system to a successful zombie-chopping formula while taking a few concessions with the graphics and scope of the experience. If you love action adventure or Capcom titles in general, then I whole-heartedly recommend a purchase as the unlockables and fun scenario will keep this disc spinning in your Wii for quite a while.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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

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