STAFF REVIEW of Dead Rising (Xbox 360)

Friday, August 11, 2006.
by Yellowlab

Dead Rising Box art Ah?.Capcom and Zombies. This combination goes together better than monkeys and diapers. Capcom has been refining this since the early days when they released the groundbreaking Resident Evil, and they knocked it out of the park with Resident Evil 4. Dead Rising won?t be mistaken for an attempt at Resident Evil 5, but the game is a worthy addition to their series of zombie related games.

Dead Rising starts with a simple concept. You are a freelance journalist dropped into the middle of a zombie-infested mall. Cover the story, get the scoop, solve the mysteries, and try to get out alive. Since you?re in a mall, you can grab just about anything to help you in your quest to dispatch massive amounts of the undead. You have 72 hours until the helicopter arrives to take you away?so it?s up to you to figure out how you want to spend that time.

Dead Rising just oozes with quality?the graphics are gorgeous, the sounds are fantastic (mall muzak, woo-hoo!), and the controls are excellent. Aiming firearms is done with a nice over-the-shoulder interface similar to RE4, although you?ll find yourself ignoring firearms to get a bit more up close and personal with the zombies. The amount of on-screen zombies is incredible?this game is truly amazing.

Killing the undead is a complete blast. The mall is stocked with so many items you can use?finding new ways to obliterate zombies never gets old! Baseball bat? Check. Knives, swords and axes? Check. Lawnmower?? Heck yes. You can spend hours running around finding new weapons?and you can grab just about ANYTHING: Cash registers, plants, televisions, benches, and guns, guns guns. After a long day of annihilating zombies has your health is going south, then grab some food, or mix something up in the blender. If you don?t like your clothing?then try on some new duds! If you want to run around wearing spandex, then find a sports shop! If you want to wear a tuxedo, then you can find that too! If you want to wear a dress, then you?re a sick, sick freak (but, you can do that, too).

Dead Rising uses an interesting leveling up system. As you complete tasks, quests, or just general mayhem, you gain points that you can use to increase your stats, skills, and moves. (Hand to hand combat becomes much more amusing as your level progresses). The great news is that your stats, outfits, and powers stay with you, even if you die and start a new game. This is a GREAT idea, since it doesn?t force you to start at square one on subsequent replays.

The story line in the game is fine, and keeps you going as you try to uncover the mystery. You also get plenty of requests to help out other hapless shoppers caught in the mess. Rescuing survivors nets you incredible points for leveling up, so you?ll want to lend a helping hand when you are able. Since you?re a journalist, you?ll also want to take lots and lots of pictures?and you get bonus points for taking dramatic pictures, action photos, and so on (you can even take dirty pictures, you sick perverts). When you complete the story line, it opens up a new ?overtime mode?, which is basically just a one-day extension of the main story. If you make it through that, then you are rewarded with ?infinity mode.?

Replayability is through the roof on this game. You simply can NOT do everything in one play through, which encourages repeat plays. Play again and try to save that helpless survivor that you ignored last time, or just try to defeat one more maniac psychopath.

Dead Rising does have its share of negatives. First off, the save system is atrocious. You get ONE save slot?that?s it, and frankly, it is inexcusable in this age of next-gen games. If you have a buddy that wants to start his own game, you?re out of luck (unless you have a spare memory card, I guess). Save spots are few and far between, and it is too easy to ?save yourself into a corner??where it is impossible for you to complete the storyline.

Bosses can be too difficult, and not in the: ?Gee, that was challenging? way?more like the: ?Gee, I just emptied my entire machine gun into his face, and his health is only down by ¼.? Because of the awful save situation, this can lead to a lot of frustrating replaying of sections. Some bosses can take 10-20 minutes just to GET to, and if you die, you?re all the way back, traveling the same path (instead of just jumping to a ?checkpoint? where you get to start the boss fight again). Not to mention, if you manage to defeat some psycho boss, and stumble out with minimal health, only to get aced and have to start the whole thing over again. Inexcusable?at least auto-save after a major battle so I don?t have to replay it again!!!

The game promises ultimate freedom, but to be honest, you?re kind of handcuffed to the story line. If you miss a scoop, or don?t get to a spot on time, then it?s game over. Seriously?the game ENDS. The first time through the game, I felt like I had no time to explore?there were whole sections of the mall that I had to zip past as I was on a serious time crunch to complete the story quickly. There were people I wanted to try to save, but just couldn?t because I was a story-slave errand boy. This is really too bad?Dead Rising is a game just BEGS to be explored.

The second part of the game (?overtime mode?) is where you complete the game to get the ?true ending.? Frankly, overtime mode just isn?t that much fun. Enemies become much more difficult, and tedious to dispatch. In overtime mode, there is even less time to explore, and is even more lacking in enjoyment. You do have to clear it in order to unlock ?infinity mode??which has to be AWESOME, right??

Wrong. Infinity mode is the most hideous piece of garbage I?ve ever seen, and one of the most disappointing features. First off, I was expecting a mode with infinite freedom to do whatever I wanted?like keep leveling up, learning new moves, find more hidden stuff, and so on. I mean?that?s what you?d assume would happen, right? Instead, you are greeted with an atomic wedgie.

First off, you can?t level up in infinity mode. Because you can?t level up, you can?t learn new moves or skills. Your health constantly drains (so you can?t just camp out somewhere?you?ll die), and you have to spend your entire time looking for food. Certain areas of the mall (like the grocery store) are CLOSED (so much for total exploration, eh?), and certain items are disabled (like blenders?so making cool new drinks is out). You can?t take pictures, and you can?t look at your watch. All of your kill stats erase. There aren?t any missions. To top it all off?you CAN?T SAVE. So?if you?re looking for a marathon game where you survive for 7 days, then you?d better clear some time from your schedule. As it is, infinity mode would have been decent if it was added on as some kind of ?arcade mode?, and you were rewarded with what everyone wants?true, unlimited freedom to do what you want.

Dead Rising is a frustrating game to rate. This game could have been one of the greatest games of all time. You could replay it hundreds of times, and it just wouldn?t get old. Instead, the game has been crippled by the horrible save system, lousy boss battles, a tedious 2nd part of the storyline, and a lack of a true ?free roam? mode.

Complaints aside, the game is still incredible, and is worthy of a purchase. It?s just unfortunate that Capcom missed so horribly in certain spots with a game that is so amazing in just about every area.

Overall: 9.2 / 10
Gameplay: 9.8 / 10
Visuals: 10.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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