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Last Entry of the Year Bring The Review of a Two Year Old Gem
Published on December 31, 2007 By iTZKooPA In Console Games
Dead Rising




Ah, Dead Rising my second great Xbox 360 game after Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. So from the start you should realize that I liked this game, its just simply a guilty pleasure. Oblivion is a fantastic game but I just never got REALLY into it, I never even came close to finishing the main story. On the other hand I got so sucked into Dead Rising shortly after its release that it was all I let people play at my house for some time. I even forced almost all my friends to play at one point or another, regardless if they were gamers or not. I personally didn't get to seriously play the games for weeks because of this but when I did it was pure glee, but you may be wondering why I just finished it recently.

Design & Gameplay

The basic premise of Capcom's ghoulish title is so close to George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead plot that they had to put a note in the game explicitly saying that it wasn't endorsed by anyone who had anything to do with that amazing movie. Thankfully the big players in Hollywood didn't bother trying to stop the development of the title, to my knowledge, allowing gamers worldwide to experience another zombie slaughterfest. The idea of killing zombies in games has certainly become a bit cliché but Capcom managed to take the task and spin it on it head by heading in a more lighthearted, even humorous approach.

Before we get into the good I will start off with the bad. One aspect of the gameplay that annoyed many is the unusual save system that the title employed. Capcom created the title with only one save slot per storage device, which can cause the player to save at an inappropriate time such as right before they fail a quest in the main storyline. This mistake can cause the player to have to start a new game from scratch story-wise, while retaining their previous level and abilities. The unusual design choice works well in the game and allows one to die with little penalty since the missions will be easily beatable at the higher level/skill set but nonetheless pissed people off since there is a death penalty, which can be steep. Although annoying I came away with mixed feelings about the save system's implementation. Its redeeming quality is that the feature enables player's to unlock all the multiple endings without too much added time spent since they can replay with a high level character the next time.

As for your more standard gameplay expectations the Japanese development team at Capcom decided to step away from your standard slow-paced survival-horror title go with a more fast-paced action title that feels a lot like a beat-em-up game at times. Walking around as photojournalist Frank West can feel a lot like playing Grand Theft Auto, players are largely allowed to do whatever they want and have tons of objects at their disposal. While Tommy of GTA fame gets an absurd amount of cars to use as his weapons, Frank has an ostentatious assortment of Mall-based weapons ranging from Tennis balls, Baseball bats and chainsaws, to Sickles, Guns, Kitanas and even the head of a Servbot. With such a wide selection, and even some weapons that can be modified for with bonuses, how could combat get boring? Well frankly it never does. The team added in so many weapons and moves, with such a varying amount of usability and animations that the combinations seemed endless and a joy to toy around with.

While Capcom did not do much innovation in Dead Rising's gameplay, it does come off as one title that is superbly polished. Aside from many player's hatred of the save system, something of which did frustrate me originally (I got stuck with a dead end save file after a friend saved right before the final boss with almost no time left on the mission), there are very few other problems with the title's overall design and gameplay mechanics. If there was one major problem I had it would be the balancing of some weapons. I have used a wide assortment of equipment throughout the game and it seems that the best weapon, against all common sense, is the Torso of a busted mannequin. Not only does it take along time to 'die,' but I have beaten numerous boss characters with a single Torso. Looks like the QA employees missed that one.

Visuals & Sounds

So the gameplay was damn solid, what about the other aspects of the game you ask? Well first of all a good zombie title needs a solid zombie soundtrack, complete with squishy noises for when you bash their brittle heads in. DR has that in spades. Not only do the hordes of zombies have the distinct groans and shuffling of feet noises, but the mini-bosses, which are generally just insane humans by the way, also have great voice overs and dialog that fits the setting. Oh and that brings me to the other point. No zombie game is complete without the aforementioned hordes, well by harnessing the power of the Xbox 360, Capcom really managed to fit a crapload of zombies on the screen at once. Whether you are mowing down the beings inside the mall or the parking lot below, you can be sure that there are dozens, possibly hundreds of the mental midgets shuffling around, waiting to tear at your blood-filled body. Naturally these are both presented in sexy surround sound and 1080i respectively, yum.





See I told you there were hordes in game game. (Sorry for the watermark I couldn't get a good screenshot of the hordes. Credit: GamesPress)







Campaign & Level Design

Dead Rising not only features incredibly solid gameplay but a well-polished story as well. Initially, as Frank West, your goal will be to try and help people get to the safety of the security room. Unlike most dreaded escort quests these aren't incredibly annoying and if someone does die, or you lose part of the party, it really isn't then end of the world, you just miss out on some experience, or PP as they call it. After killing some time with that as the player gets a handle on the game Capcom introduces us to my favorite aspect of the campaign, the insane humans.





Oh god, an escort mission, but my partners are nicely equipped.







You see not everyone would adjust to a zombie invasion as well as the video game generation. I for one already have an elaborate plan of domicile defense and an escape route via the neighboring houses roofs planned. I will post the document one day, its a fascinating display of wasted time, but I it is too early now and someone may read it and remember my escape route after they become zombiefied, I digress. The design minds behind Dead Rising realized that people would lose it in this type of event, an instead of forcing you to rescue those maniacs, its becomes a kill or be killed scenario. From the crazy grocery store keeper who needs to keep the shop clean, to the war veteran who thinks hes back in a foxhole, the characters are colorful, funny and downright deadly. To top it off there is even a psycho that reinforces the age old adage that clowns are damn frightening.





Oh man look at that grin, I just wish he had fangs as well.







Being set in a Mall the level design was already somewhat laid out for the developers. Well I believe that would hold if they were in, say, the United States of America, where Malls are ridiculously common. I am by no means a world traveler (yet) but I am pretty confident in saying that Japan is not littered with malls every few miles, not the type from the game that is. Despite the lack of consumer gluttony inside one large sprawling complex that can spread for miles, Capcom's team managed to put together an impressive Mall, one that I actually kind of want to visit. The area of exploration is huge, and comes complete with a food court, underground parking and maintenance area, the token area of the mall that is under construction and even an outdoor courtyard complete with pond. Stores are laid out in ways that would make shopping easy, with the selection of goods in each being realistic, with the exception of the random gun and sword store, but hey I will just assume we are in the Southern United States.





Any cult wearing green masks and yellow raincoats is one I want to join. Oh BTW I am in the box.







Replayability

As noted above the game's unusual saving method may force some players to replay the game whether they want to or not. Luckily no matter how stupid your friends maybe, you will always get some sort of ending to the title. Due to my mishap, my original play through went from the perfect ending, Ending A, to Ending B. Actually, seeing as I knew I was so close to the game's finale, with the best possible ending, I spent countless hours trying to pull off the last case file with the little time that I had before giving up and starting over. It broke my heart when I finally did. The game stays fresh enough the second run through, but had I messed up again I would have probably been pretty pissed. Despite all this, unlocking the title's additional modes, Overtime and Infinity Mode, are worth the added time spent since they do offer added gameplay possibilities.

Wrap-up

Dead Rising presents gamers with awesome gameplay, killer controls, a perfect setting for absurd amounts of violence against the zombie nasty, a stylish campaign and presentation both auditory and visually, and even has girls galore which I hadn't mentioned until now. So with all this gaming gold it should not be much of a shock that I consider Dead Rising to be Xbox 360's first killer-app. This is the title that truly made me begin to believe in my investment (remember Oblivion was also on PC) and hope for more. Yet to this day we still haven't received confirmation of a Dead Rising 2, what the hell is up with that. Well at least Capcom followed up with Lost Planet. Need a Xbox 360 game and enjoy action just a little bit, or perhaps you like stuff with zombies? GET Dead Rising!





What's hotter, Isabella or that weapon?







Pros:
-Awesome gameplay with solid controls
-800 possible zombies on the screen at once
-A fantastic new IP from Capcom
-Multiple endings which unlock additional play-modes -Killer-app for Xbox 360

Cons:
-Save system can be a nuisance, but was done so on purpose. If that makes that sound any better...
-Weapon balancing seems out of whack

Design Ideas:
-Higher PP bonus for exotic shots? Sadly, I can't think of much to add/modify for this title...



I personally prefer Isabella but this shot got some nice PP, and I mean experience points.








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