Review by kefka989

"Fight the dead and pick up some tunes at the music store while your at it"

Ever since you saw Dawn of the Dead, you have wanted to do this. This game is like porn to everyone who has had a thing for zombies since the first Night of the Living Dead. Dead Rising is one of the earlier games for the 360, having been around for some time now but still a fun little distraction from this life to dabble in a zombie filled one.

The story is that you are a photo journalist named Frank who is out to get the next big scoop, which happens to be that an entire town has been shut off by the military and no one knows why. Not being one to let a great story like this slip him by, he simply commissions a helicopter pilot to smuggle him past the military and get him into the town. At first the signs are not good as he watches people in the streets being attacked by hoards of zombies, hiding in cars and on roof tops, eventually succumbing to the massive numbers of the flesh eating ghouls. After getting dropped off by your helicopter ride, you have 3 days exactly to find out what is going on. You are confined to a mall for the game. The mall is large (as far as malls go) but after a while you can feel a little bit confined.

As you run around the mall, the first thing you will probably notice is that its full of zombies. Zombies by the truck load. You can either try to avoid them as much as possible or kill them... and really, why avoid having fun when you can try using everything and anything as a weapon? The game allows you to grab most anything and use it as a weapon, from baseball bats to trash cans, from lawn mowers to chain saws. However to keep you from mowing down every zombie with ease, the game makes sure that weapons break after a certain number of uses. You can also grab food to regain health and also grab books which have various effects, such as increasing the number of health bars that get increased when eating to extending the durability of weapons. As an added kick, you can go to clothing shops and swap out Frank's outfit to something different by changing his shoes, clothing, glasses, and hair/helmet.

As you go through the game, you will be asked to rescue survivors throughout the mall. Some of them will follow with a weapon and help you fight off zombies, others will just follow, and the useless ones will require that you carry them on your back, rendering you defenseless. They all have a habit of being dumb as bricks though. The A.I. is not 'brain dead', its more along the lines of '3 year old'. Survivors will often pause at the wrong times, get caught on walls, run into swarms of zombies just to get eaten, or randomly ignore you to go run off to some other direction, if they don't freeze up to cry or panic. They can also sometimes rush up to you without warning or you asking them too, which is not normally a big deal but if you are using a weapon like the sledge hammer, you can cave their heads in with one swipe of the hammer on accident. As if zombies where not bad enough, the game sports those people who snap at times of zombie holocaust, the psychopaths. These people will make you wish zombies had killed everyone. Psychopaths act as bosses or more advanced obstacles when Zombies are not enough, usually wielding guns or nasty melee weapons and able to take massive punishment before you can finally take them down. The worst are the prisoners, a trio of escaped cons who drive around in a jeep with two swinging bats and the third armed with a .50 machine gun. They respawn every few hours and make getting survivors through the mall a real pain.

An interesting feature in the game is that it has a slight RPG function of level gaining. As you go through the game and rescue survivors, kill psychopaths, kill certain numbers of zombies, or do various objectives, you get 'PP' points that you use to go up in level. When you level up, you gain added stats like extra storage space, more health, better speed, and so forth. You can also learn new moves, such as the ability to climb up on and run across zombie's shoulders, or give them a suplex, or even rip their guts out. An added way to gain PP is to take pictures in the game using Frank's Camera, getting the best pictures can net you upwards of 10,000 points. You also have to take pictures to achieve goals, like taking picture of your hide out to convince survivors your taking them someplace safe.

Some downsides of the game are that the controls can be a bit clunky at times. Considering the size of the game its no wonder, but it can be a problem when you are trying to do a special move on a zombie and you end up just spazzing out in game. The draw distance sometimes comes into question, zombies or details not coming into view until a few moments which can make a big difference between knowing what is coming at you and what is not. Another more annoying feature is Otis, the grounds keeper. He is one of the people in the safe area, and he gives you a radio to communicate. The problem is that when you are talking to him you cannot attack, dodge, or even jump, and he talks extremely slowly. As if to rub salt into the wounds, if you get interrupted by getting bitten or shot, he calls back and accosts you for hanging up on him and then starts his slow message all over again from the beginning, wasting more time, as if zombies were not trying to eat your face right off your head. This is an even more important issue as you have a limited amount of time to save each of the victims, taking too long ending up causing them to be dead when you eventually find them. To make matters worse is that the game has small text. That does not sound bad but remember that the 360 is designed to run on HD, so if you have a regular TV like I used to, you will find reading the text utterly impossible. The only way to see the text with a non-HD TV is to use a big-screen TV, preferably 50 inches or more. Otherwise you will find it difficult to figure out just where Otis is grumbling at you to go or where your next mission is. And lastly, the game can get repetitive, which is bound to happen in a game where what you mostly do is mow down loads and loads of zombies, the difference in how or what weapon you use to kill them being the only variety.

The game has some significant flaws, but the simple act of running around in a mall and killing zombies by the thousands with everything in the mall is just too fun to ignore. The game is defiantly worth a try if not a buy. It will aggravate you at times, but for the most part it is just a fun excuse to kill zombies.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 06/03/09

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

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