Dead Rising Review
When there's no more room in hell, the dead will be beaten over the head with a letterbox.
Zombies. The living, shambling dead. Brought to life via the seminal Living Dead series of films, tarnished by various cheap knock offs, payed homage to in a modern comedic masterpiece and a series of genre-defining video games. Zombies have been through a lot, bless them. No rest for the wicked though, as Capcom's latest zombie-slaughtering effort strays away from the survival-horror Resident Evil series, instead opting for a more tongue-in-cheek, action packed zombie gore fest. Dead Rising, while almost completely abolishing the horror aspect of the whole 'Zombie Infestation" scenario, still manages to be more faithful to the films which influenced it. In fact, influenced is too weak a word; George A. Romero's classic 1978 Dawn of the Dead is more 'source material' than 'inspiration' (despite what the disclaimer at the start of the game says.)
The premise of the game is pretty simple: Something's amiss with the town of Willamette. Intrepid photojournalist Frank West wants to find out what's going down. Cue an on-rails helicopter tour of the zombie-infested town (playing something like a demented Pokémon snap) which ends with Frank deciding to personally investigate, with the pilot dropping him off on the roof of the local Mall and telling the player that he'll be back to pick them up in 3 days time.
From there, the fun begins. The 3 day time limit isn't an awfully long one, and for £50 it can seem like a rip off. However, you can be assured that there's plenty to do in the mall; With 6 different endings and a mulititude of acheivments and items to unlock, it's clear Capcom intended the game be played multiple times. However, if you're reading this review, you probably know this already. What everyone really wants to know is how it plays. And I'm glad to say, it plays like a charm. The controls are simple and intuitive, with unlocked skills being performed by a simple button combo. There's nothing too strategic about battling the undead, either fight to the bloody end, opt to run around the shambling hoards or try to do both. As promised, the 200+ weapons are varied, with a lethal mix of deadly firearms and everyday items. 100 zombies can be on the screen at one time, and I've only ever experienced minor slow-down. The graphics are crisp and detailed, and while they're certainly not the best on the Xbox 360, they do a good job.
But the game isn't without it's flaws. Some may not agree with the save system. There's only one save slot, and the game can only be saved from designated areas (toilets and beds.) While I feel this stresses the urgency of the game, there are times when it can cause alot of annoyance and heartbreak. The only other real fault with the game is some of the tiny ingame text. While it's fine on HDTVs, SDTV owners (like me) will have to choose between adjusting the Xbox's settings to Widescreen and squinting, or keeping the aspect ratio and really, really squinting. However, there's still some hope that Capcom will fix this in a patch.
Dead Rising isn't going to be a contender for The Best Game Ever. But it's a whole lot of fun anyway. It's like an undead GTA, with Zombies replacing peds and weapons replacing cars. Good, not so wholesome fun for everyone.