Review by Chris_Potter

Reviewed: 10/09/06

The Ultimate Zombies Experience!

It's been 29 days since I first landed on the roof of Parkview mall in the small town of Willamette, Colorado. When I first jumped out of that helicopter I thought that I'd stay in the mall for the 72 game hours I had been given and then leave and only return for a quick fix when ever I needed to see lots of blood and gore. I soon realized that this was not going to be the case. Since I'm a big fan of all things zombie, I soon realized that the Keiji Inafune and his crew had done their homework. From the very beginning I was being served an experience just like a George A. Romero movie and I just fell in love with it! And I'm going to try and convince you why you will do the same!

For those of you who haven't played the demo, I'll tell you the basics. Frank controls like most other game characters, you run around using the left thumbstick and use X to attack things, you can also press the right trigger to enter an over-the-shoulder mode (like RE4) and use the weapons you have in different ways, some you just throw away when in this mode (melee weapons mostly), but then there are the guns which of course aim much better in this mode, and there are also some things (like hockey clubs, golf clubs, bowling balls, etc) that will allow you to use them as you would normally use them (in a non-zombies situation that is).

The other thing about the gameplay is that in the beginning you will probably feel kind of weak, you start out with no real abilities except the ability to jump and use weapons, and then as you progress and beat bosses, complete missions, kill zombies and escort survivors to safety, you gain levels and with this gain more attack power, speed, health slots and new cool attacks that you can use to get the zombies out of your way. This makes you feel like you really are getting better at what you are doing as you progress through the game.

Another thing that has been talked a lot about is the save system. the thing about the save system is that you only have one slot per profile so you can only save over your previous saved game when you want to save the next time, this can cause problems sometimes since the game uses a time mechanic which gives you deadlines to get from mission to mission, so sometimes when you've been doing a couple of side missions and need to get to the next mission you realize that you are at the exact opposite side of the mall and that you really need to boot it to the next mission if you want to get there in time, then all of a sudden you realize the truth, no matter what you do you'll never make it, you have to reboot your last save. But wait, you just saved in one of the mall's bathrooms a couple of minutes ago! You then realize that no matter what you do, you CAN'T make it; you have to restart the entire game from the very beginning!

Oh, well, that's what I've heard has happened to loads of people who have played this game, let me assure you it has never happened to me... If you pay attention to the clock at least the first time you play through the game you should be able to avoid these problems pretty much all together.

Then there is one small thing that also needs to be mentioned is the fact that if you are playing on a standard definition television (like I was) the game will sometimes take a frustrating turn when it comes to it’s text size. Sometimes it is just impossible to see what someone is saying and even though it doesn’t really hurt the overall value of the game since you can almost always simply choose the mission from your mission list and get a nice little arrow to point you in the direction of the next mission, it would still be nice to get to hear all the dialog that’s going on around you. Because sometimes it can be quite mood setting or funny since all the characters have different backgrounds and stories to tell.

I remember when this game was first shown at E3 2005, everyone talked about how this game just looked like an average Xbox game with more enemies on the screen at once than an original Xbox could handle. A long time has gone since then and this game had changed into something much better than that of the demo at E3. First of all Frank, the main character no longer has a constant facial expression that makes you think he’s constipated or something, second of all the zombies have been a little fine tuned and now look better, even though you see the same zombies a little too often for the games own good.

The characters in general look very good; I was surprised, even though I had enormous expectations of this game I still didn’t imagine that the cast of characters would be so well done both physically and psychologically. Of course some characters aren’t as well done as the most important ones, many of the survivors are pretty plainly done, but that is to be expected in a game with so many characters in it.

Dead Rising also has some of the most memorable bosses in the history of video games. They are all extreme versions of stereotypes that we all know and love. There’s Steve, the store owner who will do anything to stop shoplifter’s, Cletus the hick who owns the rifle shop in the mall who speaks with a southern accent and drinks all the time and then of course there’s Adam, a clown that wields two chainsaws and complains over the fact that no one laughs at him since the zombies came and scared all the people away.

Then last but certainly not least is the mall itself, full of colors and all kinds of weird stores. The mall basically looks like you’re dream place for a game like this, there are different plazas that all have different themes and color schemes. For example in the North Plaza, which is under construction there are things such as a camera store, garden store, and a super market where you can find loads of health items. In Wonderland Plaza there is an overall childish theme, with a roller coaster and big bunnies and playground all around, basically the game does it’s best to make it feel like you really have different reasons to go to different parts of the mall and in most cases it succeeds in this aspect.

Don’t really have much to say here, because quite frankly, the audio is great. All the sounds of stuff hitting other stuff is great, axes, shower heads, lawn mowers, bowling balls and chainsaws make the sounds you expect them to so in that aspect the game is pretty much complete.

Then there’s the voice acting, which also, is really superb. All the characters have good voice actors that make the dialog sound like it’s taken directly from a zombie movie, I especially like the voice actor that plays Frank, and he makes a really good effort and definitely comes off as the best of the otherwise still really good cast of actors.

The story starts out quite simple; you are Frank West a photojournalist that has spent his life covering wars and other horrible things. So Frank gets a tip that something weird is going on in the little mountain town of Willamette, Colorado. Frank sets off to find out what this is all about arrives in town by helicopter only to find the whole town in chaos. So Frank tells the pilot to let him off on the roof of the mall and come back for him in 72 hours. So at this point to take control of Frank and you start to meet people in the mall that have survived the outbreak thus far and as you help these people you slowly but surely uncover the truth behind the outbreak, and all I’m going to say is that there is more going on behind the scenes than one might think.

Overall Impression:
I completely love Dead Rising; it’s been the game I’ve been waiting for since I got my hands on my 360 on launch day. It does everything right mostly and if you are a fan of zombies movies you will most certainly notice it. The game also does like most zombie movies in showing that during a zombie outbreak it’s not the zombies that are the real threat it’s the people that are dangerous since they often take an unstable turn when put under pressure.

So to sum it all up, Dead Rising manages to combine an engaging story with brilliant characters with great level design, good gameplay mechanics, great audio presentation and good old violence and gore. Anyone with a 360 should definitely check it out and all of you without a 360, go play the Resident Evil remake for the Gamecube since that’s the only zombie game that’s better than this amazing game!

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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