Ah Dead Rising…one of the first games I ever bought on the X-Box 360 & probably the first game I ever gave up on the 360. Dead Rising is kind of famous, don’t ya know?! What’s it famous for? Well it’s difficulty is one & well…it’s set in a shopping centre/mall during a zombie outbreak. Certain accusations were thrown at the game to the point where copies of the game came with a sticker saying: “This game was not developed, approved or licensed by the owners or creators of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead”.
The companies behind the movie tried to sue Capcom over the similarities between the 2 but Capcom successfully argued that zombies in a mall was not something you could copyright which is common sense & shouldn’t have taken a court to settle that.
So similarities aside what actually happens in Dead Rising? Our story begins with you in control of Frank West. A reporter who has heard about some outbreak in a local town, Willamette. Thinking this is his big break, he hires a helicopter to take him over the area so he can get some pictures. The opening few minutes sees the player trying to get impressive pictures of the events unfolding below them. They range from a school bus under siege, to a lone man trying to fight off a horde on top of his car before succumbing, a woman trapped on a roof with no where to go but down & a fiery explosion at a gas station.
After witnessing this Frank gets the pilot to drop him off at the nearby mall’s roof, he smells a story here & he is going to get to the bottom of it.
The aim of the game is to survive, you have 3 days until the pilot will return so that is 3 days to find out what is happening, rescue survivors, deal with psychopaths & have some fun.
This 3-day countdown adds a sense of urgency when playing the game & each in-game day works out to be 2 hours real-time. It’s a lot of time to get to know the game & even if you do nothing more then killing zombies & levelling up ( your new level carries over every time) you will just be setting the ground work for success next time.
Firstly the zombies look great, really scary & realistic looking, particularly at night!
So lets talk about the mall itself…it’s a big old bit of land with almost all areas of it available to explore.
Almost all areas are filled to the brim with zombies & as the 3-days go on more will come crawling out to make the game harder. Check out the underground tunnels if you really want to see a lot zombies. As well as zombies to deal with over the 3 days a number of psychopaths will show up to make your day worse. These guys are folks that failed to cope with the outbreak well & their minds snapped, they range from irritating to very hard. The worst? I think it is this guy:
That is Adam the clown & he is off his rocker, he also has 2 chainsaws as weapons & can do flips. This is why levelling up is super important as there are times when you won’t mean to get into a psychopath fight but you end up in one anyway.
It’s not all bad though, you do get to rescue lots of survivors. Your means of contact with the initial group you hook up with is via a walkie-talkie & you will gain mission information, psycho information & survivor information through this. It’s invaluable but has a horrible habit of calling at the wrong time & once Frank answers he is powerless to fight off zombies.
Rescuing survivors is a major part of the game. Successful rescues give huge XP bonuses & a higher rank at the end of the game. If only it wasn’t so difficult…. You see the survivors are stupid, really stupid. You have to constantly call them, if you run off to far they will wander into a horde of zombies & if they are grabbed by zombies they will not fight them off meaning you have to knock the zombies off which often injures the survivor as well. It can be very frustrating especially when you have to cross big expanses of ground.
This ties into possibly the games biggest criticism….the difficulty, Dead Rising is hard. The zombies do a lot of damage & if you are not careful you can be over-run with no health. The psychopaths can whittle your health down very quickly & some can trap you in a position that sees you dead very quickly. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if its wasn’t for the save feature….you see there are only a handful of places you can actually save it in the game. The bathrooms in the mall double up as the save point & it is in these areas you must save.
For me I can’t help but think that the people who moan about the save feature would prefer a save anytime kind of thing. I love the DR saving as it adds so much more tension & worry, it makes you plan better. Sure I made the mistake many times of not saving for a while & then dying but I blamed myself not the game.
Going back to one of the major components of the game, you will notice that your photos are ranked & given a score. An example would be that you took a picture of a load of zombies, the rank would probably be horror & a numbered score or later once you have rescued some survivors you can get photos marked up as erotic which tends to yield quite a high score. It adds a competitive edge.which is a nice addition.
There are a bundle of extra modes to enjoy in Dead Rising. Finishing the story will give you over-time mode which will give you the chance to see the true ending. Then there is the famous survivor mode….
Survive as long as you can in the mall with limited food, Franks health constantly drops & where everyone is now psycho (although they drop food). It’s both challenging & fun, if you are struggling to make it to Day 7 please read my 7 day survivor guide.
The last major issue with the game is the size of the writing, it is so small & if you have a visual impairment you might be straining to read it.
Overall I think Dead Rising is a quality game that everyone should enjoy. It is not the easiest game but is very rewarding & fun.