Review by Npeaen

"Man vs. Zombie, the road to victory"

Dead Rising is yet another zombie game from the minds at Capcom. But wait... what's that? The game doesn't appear to have Resident Evil in the name somewhere! This game completely throws away the scare factor and just lets you try to have some zombie killing fun in essentially a giant homage to Dawn of the Dead. In fact, I guess the developers were so worried about the similarities the box actually says on it they have nothing to do with Romero and his films(Dawn of the Dead). Does a more lighthearted zombie game work though? Pretty well actually...

One of the initial big draws of this game is the amount of zombies. Capcom decided to use the next-gen hardware and took the concept of “Get as much stuff onscreen as possible” and ran away with it. At times there are over 1000 zombies onscreen at once. With no slowdown it's absolutely amazing. The draw distance is pretty good, I have to be looking out at the horizon to see where the zombies are appearing, and the zombies themselves actually don't look half bad. While they don't really look next-gen. Considering the massive numbers of zombies onscreen, I'm not one to complain about slightly sub-par graphics in the zombie department. There's enough variety in the zombie models too that it doesn't always feel like you're killing the same zombie over and over again(although there's one model that bugs me, the yellow aloha shirt ones always... always have a knife). The actually environments look pretty good, collision detection is good, the mall itself looks clean and pretty good usually, just don't zoom in close up, in some cutscenes it is pretty noticeable how bad the textures look close up(if you want to see, download the demo, the cutscene at the start displays that). The five main characters all look fantastic, well textured, look good close up, far away, whatever. The animation also gets the job done, although a little jerky at times(going from standing still to wounded run looks kinda weird), the zombies and the main characters all move just fine. Also, while many games these days are doing it, time does flow in this game, and to try and make it believable, the lighting does change over the course of the day, and for the most part works, with just a few hiccups here and there(sunset seems WAAAYYY too orange/red). Considering the size of the game though, in the end the graphics are pretty impressive.

Give the man who did this game audio a raise. Simple as that. I don't want to know how he got something that sounds like running over a zombie with a lawnmower, but I LOVE IT! It sounds just like you would think it would. Chopping a zombie in half? Sounds good, Using a zombie as a propeller blade with an excavator? Even that sounds right. BIG thumbs up to whoever did the sound effects. The voice acting also sounds pretty good. The main characters do a fantastic job, and the random survivors are... well, they're passable, if not annoying at times. Sometimes you'll really regret saving some of those people when you enter the security room and hear the same annoying five second sound loop over and over again. “WHHHAATTTSss..... HAPPENED.... All right”*rinse and repeat*. The zombies sound as you would expect them to, moans and groans, and nothing else. Then there's the games music... hit or miss. Some people hate it, some people love it. Personally, I think the audio fits the game very well. In some parts of the mall there's no sound, in other parts you get muzak and the occasional PA announcement telling you about some upcoming event in the mall. In other areas, you get loud blaring music from a radio a nearby has. Or in the case of any boss fight, you get either licensed music or some short minute long loop produced by Capcom. The boss music didn't strike me as particularly good or even fitting in well with the game. Yes, it makes you realize you're fighting a boss, but I dunno, maybe the fact that they're trying to kill you indicates it? For the most part though, the audio is good and fits in with the game nicely.

As with most games, the controls work for what you're supposed to be doing. The left stick controls your movements, the right stick controls your camera, A is jump, B is context sensitive action, X is attack, R is aim(either Aim your gun or throw your melee weapon), the shoulder buttons switch between weapons, and the L trigger brings up Camera mode. More on Camera mode later. Other than that you check your watch(VERY IMPORTANT TO ALWAYS KNOW THE TIME, I'M SERIOUS) with the left button, go barehanded with up, and drop your current weapon with down. The only other button, the Y button, is used to give out directions to survivors when you're escorting them. The game also has a few different vehicles to move around in, which when you get in one for the first time, the game is kind enough to tell you how to control it. There's a few cars in the game, a motorcycle, bikes, and skateboards. The quick instructions are very hard to miss, and you'll only run into trouble reading them on a standard TV, in which the text is just plain too small. All HD viewers are fine though. Overall, the controls are responsive, well done, and easy to use. You'll be killing zombies in no time!

Without a doubt, the most important part of a game. Does Dead Rising deliver on gameplay? Yes, yes it does. The game puts you in control of a bit of an overzealous freelance photojournalist, Frank West. He gets a tip about something big going on in the town of Willamette, and hires a helicopter to take him in. The setup is that Frank asked the pilot to come back 72 hours later, so you have until then to get your scoop. The first actual gameplay you experience is the camera mode. Which you actually can go through the entire game without ever using, but it's still a neat little trick. You have a zoom feature on the camera, and when you take your shot the game then grades you based upon the photo and rewards you with PP, the equivalent of experience points in an RPG for the photo. You can later on decide which photos you want to keep and which you want to get rid of. Once you're at the games main location, the Willamette mall, you have 72 hours to run around the zombie infested mall and get your scoop. The story unfolds at specific times throughout the day, and missing a single case(story missions) causes you to lose the rest of the story, but wait! That isn't game over, you can keep playing if you want, you just won't get the games “True” ending. There's actually six endings you can get. The story is a bit ridiculous, but still interesting anyway. If you opt to go for the true ending or not, one of your fellow surviviors will contact you over a walkie talkie on occasion to inform you about survivors he sees on the security cameras. Sometimes these “scoops” lead to survivors for you to try and escort back to malls safe zone(while fun, this does sometimes get in the way of the main story), or to the more interesting option. A “Pyschopath”. There are people who have gone mad from the zombies, and attack you upon arrival. Resulting in a boss fight. Sometimes highly entertaining(Adam the Clown and the shopping cart of death are fantastic fights), and others are just... there.(The first boss of the game is pathetic, and the last few are just tedious). It's worth it to look into defeating the pyschopaths and saving the survivors, as there's quite a few achievements that revolve around defeating psychopaths and rescuing the people. On to the actual meat and bones of the game, ZOMBIE KILLING. There are zombies everywhere in the game, and you can kill them with just about anything you can find in the mall. Water Guns? You bet! Chainsaws? Even better! Hell, I've killed zombies by throwing Diamond at them! It's just plain satisfying and fun to kill these zombies in as many creative ways as possible. I mentioned PP earlier. That stand for “Prestige Points”. The game has some RPG elements to it. PP is like experience. When Frank enters the mall he's a lowly level 1. He needs to hit a zombie with a knife two or three times to kill it, you don't run very fast, hell, you can only take five hits. Frank enters the game a pansy. Over time you gain points from escorting survivors, killing zombies, defeating boss's, etc. etc. From this Frank levels up, where he seem to randomly gain better statistics, or new abilities. By the time you reach the max level of 50, Franks a world class Sprinter, can wrestle an entire zombie army with his bare hands, and can take a beating too! Your experience does carry on to your next game too, so if you're having too much trouble with one section, you can just restart and hit it again later at a higher level. Which brings up the save system. One of the problems with the game. You get one save per profile on your 360. It adds artificial replay value. Many people don't want to do the main game SIX TIMES to get everything out of it, many people would systematically set up their save files so they can get to all six endings in one playthrough. Nope, Capcom will hear none of that! Back yourself into a corner with your save so you can't get to the next mission in time? Well, no older save to fall back to in order to fix your mistake, you gotta start the entire game again! At least three save slots next time Capcom. Please? As far as saving goes, you can save your game in the “Safe Spot” of the mall, the security room, or in any of the bathrooms located around the mall. I think that part of the save system works pretty well, just the amount of slots causes a problem. The games main mode, “72 hour mode” will last about eight hours or so on your first time through(assuming you go for the “good” ending). If you get the good ending, a new mode is unlocked, which is like a playable epilogue, called “Overtime mode”. Once you beat that, you get access to Infinite mode, which is just, you trying to stay alive as long as you can in the mall. Any survivor is an enemy, and often they have such precious items as food on them, something you'll need as your health depletes one bar every 2 and a half minutes.(30 minutes in game time). You can't save in this mode, which is a bit bothersome, as it makes some of the achievements, such as seven day survivor a pain to get, as you'll be having quite the marathon gaming session to achieve that one. It's a bit disappointing that there's no true Sandbox mode, with the full mall open to you and just let you run loose killing zombies. It doesn't really detract from the overall fun of the experience though.

In the end, I had a blast with this game. It has a few quirks here and there that should've been worked out, but it doesn't stop this game from being one of the most unique and entertaining games the 360 has to offer so far.


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/21/06

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