Dead Rising (Xbox 360) review
"It's been a long time coming, but Dead Rising finally gave everyone the opportunity we've been waiting for: being trapped in a mall with zombies."
It's been a long time coming, but Dead Rising finally gave everyone the opportunity we've been waiting for: being trapped in a mall with zombies. With Frank West, freelance photojournalist, at your controls, you'll be stuck in Willamette Mall for 72 hours before your helicopter ride comes back. What will you do within that time? Well, kick some zombie ass, of course.
However, if you think this is gonna be a walk in the park, then you're dead wrong. The moment you have your first actual confrontation with the undead, all hell brakes loose. Zombies come through the entrance in HUGE numbers, covering up almost every space available. Better get used to it, because the whole game will be like this. The few living that happen to be there at the entrance will instantly be surrounded by those wanting human flesh. Sure, you'll attempt to save them, but you'll eventually realize that its all hopeless. There's basically nothing you can do but slowly make your way to the security room (apparently, Frank doesn't know the concept of running for his life) where the main game will be set in motion. From there on out, how you spend the next three days is all up to you.
Upon attempting to exit the security room, however, the game will suggest you follow the cases (the main storyline). These cases will start and end during certain times of the day, and basically spreads out throughout the 72 hours. Choosing to partake in these cases will throw you into constant situations with the game's supposed villain, Carlito, most of which consist of him trying to kill you. One instant, you'll be having a gun fight with him around the food court, another will have him chasing you around in a truck in the mall's maintenance tunnel, throwing grenades and trying to run you over. This guy doesn't hold back, that's for sure. You'll also slowly uncover the truth behind the zombie outbreak in an almost Metal Gear Solid-like fashion during cutscenes.
But that's just one of many options. You don't have to pursue the cases if you want, and instead opt to go on various alternative quests with the help of Otis, who gives you information through your transceiver. Most of these quests involve locating survivors and bringing them back to the security room. Sounds simple.... until you remember that zombies are crawling everywhere, eagerly waiting to chow on some fresh body parts (one of which happens to be Frank's crotch). The survivors in need of help are a varied bunch, ranging from traumatized women and injured men to a helpless old lady and Japanese tourists. Some need to be carried on your shoulders, others just need you to hold their hands, and then there's those that are able to take care of themselves. It's impossible to find and save every single one of them in your first playthrough, unfortunately, so multiple sessions are needed for this.
You won't just have your fists as a weapon as you lead these people to safety, though, almost anything and everything can be used to defend yourself. You have basic stuff like cash registers, chairs, and HDTVs, then your more damaging weapons like a handgun from security guard zombies, chainsaws, and katanas, and finally there's the downright goofy stuff like a Mega Buster toy, CD cases, and a lightsaber-ish toy sword (useful for navigating in the dark when the mall's lights go out). Hey, if an object looks like it can be picked up, you can use it. Then there's a whole set of moves Frank has that he can use on the dead. It starts out small, with just punching and a jump kick, but through leveling up (by saving survivors, killing zombies, and taking interesting pictures), you'll gain some new moves like charging through zombies or spinning around like crazy. You can also expand your life bar, speed, and storage space through leveling up.
You're gonna need as much as you can get your hands on, because zombies and a dude with an unlimited supply of grenades won't be the only thing you'll have to deal with. If you ever attempt to get a shotgun or sniper rifle from the gun shop early on in the game, you'll be in for a surprise as the drunken store owner, greeting you with his shotgun, won't let anybody near his weapons. Like the guy he shot as you came in. Entering the park towards the end of the first day will have you dealing with three escaped convicts riding around in a jeep, running over or shooting every zombie in sight. They won't give a damn about the living, either. This is demonstrated in their first appearance, where they easily kill a man with a baseball bat, leaving the woman he was with in a panicked state. Then there's a clown with chainsaws. And a cult. Yeah, a zombie outbreak brings out the best in people, don't they?
All of this adds up to quite a unique and engaging experience, but Dead Rising does have a few problems that get in the way of the fun. This first one is obvious: there's a whole lot of zombies. This IS a good thing when you're just goofing around with them, but they become a nuisance when your focus is somewhere else. Specifically, when you're trying to save someone. The zombies are really forgivable when you're carrying people, but for everyone else, it almost becomes an epic struggle. Guiding people that are able to walk on their own ends up being a chore, because half the time, they almost seem to not know where they're going, and the other half, they're being attacked by a group of zombies. The latter half is quite annoying, because sometimes you have to do a lot of work just to get them off of the survivors, and when they're finally free, their life bar is usually depleted in half. Granted, you can give some of them weapons, but they almost never use them effectively (funny how I always get hit with a shotgun blast when a zombie is on me...).
One other problem is that, if you want to easily navigate all of the mall without wanting to go through the cases, you're still forced to do some of them. See, as you begin the game and exit the security room, you'll notice that, to the left of its door, a part of the mall is blocked off by a closed gate. You can still get there, but, you'll have to run across the park to another entrance or through the parking garage just to reach that side. Just imagine how dreadful this becomes when a survivor happens to be on the other side of that gate. So, if you want it opened, you'll have to complete all the way up to the beginning of the second case.
However, if you can deal with these problems, Dead Rising is definitely an interesting experience. From the very beginning, you'll be sucked into this mall environment for 72 hours that's its own little world, and it'll keep you busy and entertained till the very end. Hell, if killing zombies isn't enough, you get to take pictures of MegaMan movie posters or even Jessica’s ample cleavage. This nets you a healthy EROTICA bonus.
Community review by pickhut (September 19, 2006)
Pick any sci-fi game from the 1980s and you're likely to spot an Alien reference.
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