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Dead Rising (Xbox 360) artwork

Dead Rising (Xbox 360) review

"A console could never call itself complete without some sort of blockbuster zombie affiliated game lying around in its library. Capcom, who has always been there for the horror genre, has released another zombie thriller to the market. However, in Resident Evilís case, the consumer always fed off its haunting, bloodcurdling mood and atmosphere for desire. In Dead Rising, there are little to no survival-horror traits. Instead, there is only survival, and mindless brain-bashing festivity to be had..."

A console could never call itself complete without some sort of blockbuster zombie affiliated game lying around in its library. Capcom, who has always been there for the horror genre, has released another zombie thriller to the market. However, in Resident Evilís case, the consumer always fed off its haunting, bloodcurdling mood and atmosphere for desire. In Dead Rising, there are little to no survival-horror traits. Instead, there is only survival, and mindless brain-bashing festivity to be had. Surprisingly enough, Dead Rising makes zombie killing more enjoyable than ever before, while doing many other things right as well. At the same time, Dead Rising also has its fair share of slight flaws. But if you can stomach your way around these issues, you may quickly find yourself having an exceptional amount of fun.

In Dead Rising, you play as an eager freelance photojournalist, Frank West. Equipped with only a camera for his expedition, Frank contracts a helicopter to investigate the military quarantined town of Willamette, Colorado. After seeing what he believes is a town riot, Frank directs his pilot to drop him off on top of the Willamette Park View Mall, and then convinces him to return in three days. Within a few minutes, Frank quickly realizes that the little town was not in distraught, rather mindless flesh-eating zombies--tens of thousands of them, were bringing the town to its knees. Which, after they break into the mall, Frank unintentionally meets up with a main cast of survivors, who quite happen to be Homeland Security agents. Together they strive to find out the mysterious truth that has sent this town chaos. And after casting out from the impervious zombie safe house, Frank is virtually by himself.

Within the provided three days, Frankís main objective is to investigate why the entire town has suddenly converted into zombies, and then make it out alive. But is there a more sinister plot behind the works? The story itself does open up to a rather ridiculous, yet interesting scheme. Unfortunately, no matter how much you are willing to enjoy it, the ending winds up feeling very inept once all is said and done. Interaction with the story is executed through case files. To receive a case file, you must be within a designated area at a certain time of the day. After receiving it, you must complete the file within the time allotted. If you fail to meet either ends of the stick, the entire story goes stale and you cannot pick it back up. From that point, you have two options--reload from the last save point or restart the entire game.

Adjusting to a time restraint in a video game is obviously not the most care-free entertainment to have, and itís no different here. Time never seems to be on your side, and it would not be a problem if the save system wasnít as punishing as it is. There are only a few select number of save points throughout the mall, and because the watch is constantly breathing down your neck, you donít always necessarily have the time to find a save point. Because of this, reloading the game could result in losing a few appreciated hours. And restarting the game from the beginning is obviously even more time costly. However, if you do choose to restart, you get to keep all of Frankís beneficial stats that heís gained thus far. Potentially making it an easier play-through the next time around.

Frankís helpful stats include attack power, running speed, and other abilities. You also have the more exceptional bonuses such as health, inventory slots, and physical abilities. Health obviously allows you to withstand more damage, as more inventory slots will help you make important decisions when balancing between weapons and items, and physical abilities involve hand-to-hand skills that Frank may use at any time. Whether it is knee drops, roundhouse kicks, or simply pulling out the innards of a zombieís stomach, it works pleasantly for the weaponless. Moves are mostly performed fluently, as are the controls throughout the game. However, moves that required the odd button pressing of the left analog stick felt clunky at certain times. But for the most part, these abilities add some extra spice on the violence for the game, as it is ultimately fun to watch zombies eat dirt in any situation--especially when done by your own hands.

Obtaining levels is the key to receiving these assets. Leveling requires for Frank to acquire Prestige Points, and many of them to do so. Prestige Points are accumulated in various ways and usually come in heavy doses. Many side missions offer valuable points, which vary from dangerous psychopath battles, to survivor-escort tasks. While psychopaths are undoubtedly another term for boss battles, escort missions involve transport of a survivor all the way back to the Security Room. Although the escort missions can start to feel tedious with its long distanced A-to-B escorting presentation, they serve as a good break from the main storyline. The only slight annoyance that you may encounter is the survivors A.I. issues. Often times itís hard to tell between survivors acting realistic, or plain idiotic. Survivors will either be crawling on the ground helplessly, or they will be so aggressive that following you is their last intention, as killing every single zombie around them is their first.

Having a simple problem such as following can be a bit frustrating, especially when youíre running around an astonishingly stretched piece of property that is the Willamette Park View Mall. With five different plazas, a full-blown movie theater, an enormous outdoor park, an indoor amusement center, and much, much more--there is an exceeding amount to explore, and itís all a fitting tone for a stereotypical mall. However, even though it looks gorgeous, and is designed extremely well, zombies have come to mess that all up. Luckily for Frank, heís trapped inside an anarchistís playground of weapons. You have Frank, zombies, and hundreds of different weapons at your disposal. These weapons provide different gory, and often times hilarious outcomes. Shoving a showerhead into the scalp of a zombie, then watching as the bloods leaks out from the faucet are reasons to give Dead Rising a chance.

Of course, there are your typical firearms and blades--also your standard blunt weapons, such as lead pipes, 2x4s, and baseball bats. But donít limit yourself to regular weapons such as these. Perhaps try out a bowling ball, a mannequin, or a fistful of jewelry. It only gets stranger from there, throwing in soccer balls, guitars, dumbbells, and many more uncanny items. Zombie killing definitely shows a favorable aspect to Dead Rising. Itís something the game strangely holds close to its heart, and itís enjoyable for just about anyone to pop a flesh-bagís head off using a sickle. And surprisingly enough, it never begins to feel old from start to finish. The sound of these weapons smashing against a slump body, or the spray of a blood fountain that is now coming from the zombies neck is something thatís wonderfully fitting, gruesome, and peculiarly dead-on in its own right.

You will also encounter an average amount of exceptionally good sounding music, which ranges from your common mall jazz while you run about, to hip-hop beats and heavy metal when youíre squaring off in a challenging fight. While it seems cool at the time, you unfortunately donít run into the favorable tunes often enough. What you do encounter does sound good, but there should have been more of it. Aside from musical affairs, Frank also has a camera hanging around his neck. At any time you can take pictures of zombies, tourist attractions, and even up womenís skirts. If you take a considerably good picture, it will score you a small amount of Prestige Points. So itís not a bad addition, as it is remotely fun trying to take a picture of a psychopath while heís giving a quick special PP opportunity. You donít need to use the camera, but for those who like taking hilarious, brutal, and sometimes erotic pictures, the option is there.

Dead Rising is also a graphical delight, showcasing a great use of bloom effects, textures, shadowing, and animations. The mall looks very detailed, having a clean set of textures, store placements, and lighting. Character models look sharp and their actions look smooth as well. The cut scenes are a joy to watch, even though some of the facial expressions for certain characters look a bit goofy at times. But the environment is very open, clean, and it all ties together to bring a very cinematic experience. Itís also an amazing accomplishment to see hundreds of zombies on-screen at once, with little to no frame-rate drops at all.

Since there are no zombie killing related missions during the entire game, it may sound a bit redundant. However, this is not the case. A few of the achievements are related to killing many, many zombies. Besides replaying the game just for fun or a better ending, achievements definitely make replaying the game many times a worthwhile experience. The achievements are fleshed out extremely well. From bowling a strike using zombies as pins, or putting on every piece of clothing in the mall, Dead Rising is an example of the achievement system done right. It is all very fitting and somewhat eccentric at times, but it does a great job of keeping things fun for two or even three play-throughs. Which is the least amount of time youíll be spending to get all of them, making the game even more of a blast to play well after youíve finished the story.

Dead Rising might feel as a game that you have to learn how to play at first, as it throws some aggravating flaws at you early on and never lets up. But it never feels as if there is enough bad to outweigh the good. The game will obviously put many people off with its pressuring real-time system, while at the same only having one save slot. But never has a game been so unique, innovative, gruesome and hilarious all at the same time--making one of the most enjoyable titles on the 360 to date. Once you learn the ropes, you will find yourself enjoying Dead Rising on a higher scale than you ever imagined.


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Community review by slunks (April 01, 2007)

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