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07/12/2009

DEAD RISING REVIEW



I'm slowly warming up again with these so to keep it short, here comes a review of interesting take on zombie survival, Dead Rising.
Zombies. One of the many creatures of horror that seemingly have had little to no modification over time but are no less interesting as a a result. That a game was made that was not associated with George A. Romero's classic Dawn of the Dead yet may as well be the official game of said film, Dead Rising brings the old formula of zombie survival to a new audience with its release on the X-Box 360.

The game puts you in control of photo journalist Frank West as he attempts to get the scoop on the events that are taking place in Willamette Mall. The intro to the game shows you being flown in via private helicopter as you take pictures of the town below, seeing what appears to be people being attacked on the streets. Shocked at the events unfolding, Frank gets dropped off on the roof of he town's main shopping mall where he meets a stranger who mentions that the attacks taking place are the result of zombies (to which Frank replies 'zombies!?')It is from this point you realise that you are right in the middle (literally) of a zombie outbreak and the game gets underway.

It is quickly established that you have 72 hours until your lift out of there will come to pick you up again and it is from here that you can progress through the game as you choose. Dead Rising sets about taking you through the basic controls fairly quickly as you will soon be facing hordes of zombies as you progress deeper into the mall.

Although there is a story to progress through in Dead Rising (with an ending and a true ending to uncover) the fact that you can play through the game as you please provides the gameplay with a sandbox-feel to the proceedings. You can either play Frank as the heroics type who aims to rescue all of the survivors in the mall, stick to his journalistic roots and get the best snapshots of the action and the scoop, be a bastard and aid the zombies in killing the survivors or just run around with a dress on and set about chainsawing zombies until it is time to leave.

It provides the player with a great amount of flexibility and although it can be said that the game does not have enough drive to keep you playing through the story it is down to the player as to how much they will get out of the experience or not (like other good sandbox games.)

As previously stated, Frank can pick up almost anything in the effort of keeping zombies at bay. Plant pots, TVs, benches, samurai swords and more are at his disposal. Anything that looks like it can be wielded can be picked up and it makes sense to say Frank is up against a legion of zombies. It's also quite fun to get the head of a kobun (from Megaman Legends) and put it on the head of a zombies, then whack them with a bat or something similar. Frank also has 10 or so free slots in his inventory that he can fill up with a variety of weapons , health items and chop and change between these in his efforts for zombies survival.

The game also provides you with the ability to level up Frank where he can learn new moves to use, increase his health and resistance to zombie attacks. The good thing about Dead Rising is that multiple playthroughs of the game retains your stats, allowing you to work towards levelling up everytime you play. This allows you to accomplish more of the tasks you get informed about as your play through your 72 hour stay in the Willamette Mall, obtaining better ratings, saving more survivors and playing through the main plot of the game. Frank can also jump on vehicles from cars to motorbikes, use lawnmowers (of course, on the zombies) and shopping trolleys too. It's all there for you to use and teach those zombies a lesson or two with.

Graphically Dead Rising is very competent for a next-gen game. Main character Frank is somewhat a caricature but doesn't look ugly and the rest of the main cast look great and appear to based on real celebrities. The attention to detail is admirable with the characters' facial and skin details being asking to lifelike and the necessary wrinkles and veins showing on the characters' bodies (or in the case of agent Jessica McCarney, the two things sticking out in front of her!)

It is also a substantial achievement how many zombies there can be on screen at any one time and given that there is no noticeable slowdown it is an admirable feat that Capcom have pulled off having so many on screen at once. The locales look solid as well with each of the ares of the mall looking like their respective places and you can also go into the clothes stores to change Frank's clothes in an instant if you like.

Although there is a lot to like about Dead Rising, on the flip side of things it has a few things that do prevent it from being flawless. The save system is strange in how it marks your progress as you can seemingly save, then load your game but start from a different point to when you last saved. It serves to hinder rather than help the player and separate save slots rather than just one would have a been a welcome addition. Saving survivors can frustrating too. Although you can get them to hold hands so that they follow you back to the safe room in the game their tendency to let go is high to say the least. That and when Frank calls for them to 'come on!' and they'll just stand there as a whole hoard of zombies tear and slash at their flesh. It makes you sometimes feel like you don't want to bother saving them and instead help the zombies out with killing the survivors. While not the most positive way to view things Capcom could have made the hostages more responsive to your aid.

The bosses are also far too though tough until you get some guns in your arsenal, after which they are no pushover but are certainly easier when you have some firepower on your side. It may also frustrate players that you are unable to do all of the missions in one playthrough but this encourages replaying the game as you try to do some of those missions on the second and third playthroughs.

Those issues aside, Dead Rising is a load of fun to play through with lots of flexibility within the gameplay, together with solid looking graphics and characters. Plus, riding a motorcycle through the dinning area with a katana whilst wearing a skirt and shades can not be beat! Comes recommended to fans of hack and slash games or will be enjoyable for general gamers too.

1 comment:

Clarke said...

Hi Patrick you say that zombies require modification to remain interesting but is that not a way it defending the game's unoriginality?

Other than that initial comment this is a strong review of what looks like a solid game.