Dead Rising

You’re a rugged freelance photo-journalist. A hot tip has you flying by helicopter into a small town quarantined by the army. Strange things are happening to the residents. Did that person just take a bite out of another person? Before you know it, you’re trapped in a shopping mall fending off waves of vicious undead citizens by any means available. Can you even begin to imagine the horror?

Well, chances are, you can. Especially if you’ve seen George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. The plot of Dead Rising doesn’t even try and pretend to be original, but to be fair, the developers are quick to point out that Dead Rising is in no way affiliated with Dawn of the Dead. So the movie about zombies in a shopping mall is in no way connected to the game about zombies in a shopping mall. Thankfully, we don’t care in the slightest – because it’s still zombies in a shopping mall!

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Plagiaristic tendencies aside, the concept is pure brilliance. Trapped in the small town with multitudes of shuffling snarling zombies for the next 72 hours, it’s entirely up to you how you survive. If you’re the heroic type, you might decide to rescue as many survivors as possible and while you’re at it, maybe try and uncover the reason behind the mysterious undead plague. For the less generous of spirit, there’s always the option of hiding in a cupboard until your helicopter to safety returns. The real joy of this game is that you don’t have to do anything. If you think you can last 72 hours standing in one shop using the same weapon to defend yourself, then all power to you. The game doesn’t force you to do anything. But once you start building up your ass-kicking skills, mark my words - you will want to walk on the heads of a zombie horde.

The game starts out relatively slowly by introducing you into a safe section of the mall, allowing even the most nervous of gamers to feel at ease. Once you’ve come to grips with the basics and are positively itching to get some action, you’ll find out how scary crowds can be faster than you can say “I’ve changed my mind”. New ‘swarm’ technology allows you to be surrounded by hundreds of zombies at once which can honestly be a little daunting. Luckily, you’re not trapped with the undead in an empty bunker. Everything that can be picked up in the stores can be used as a weapon. Fancy thrashing a corpse with a baguette or bottle of ketchup? For the more gore-inspired gamers, you’ll find hardware stores that are literally brimming with sickles, chainsaws and lawnmowers. Still not impressed? You’ll also find parasols, shopping trolleys, gas canisters, baseball bats, shelving units, fire extinguishers, guns, knives, hunks of meats, soda cans, electric guitars, cash registers, potted plants and mannequins. Among other things.

If you’re not amused by throwing bowling balls at the zombies, you might consider changing your outfit a few dozen times. Each clothing store gives you the option of modifying your outfit to suit the style of clothing that’s sold. While it doesn’t sound like much, your housemates will likely wet themselves to walk by and see you hacking zombies to death in a pink sundress. As great as it is (and it really is) killing zombies is only half the game however. As you go, you have the chance to pick up key bits of information to build up “cases” that will eventually solve the mystery of the mall. Rescuing survivors and taking part in key situations will reward you with vital clues to help you piece together the reason behind the outbreak. If you actually feel like solving the mystery, that is. If you do intend to actually play through the storyline, you may find the save function a tad frustrating. Save points are few and far between and if you happen to fall behind in the clues needed for each case file, there’s not much you can do to rectify the situation. Each ‘case’ event is so closely linked together that if you save yourself into a position where you can’t physically get to a vital location in time, you might as well cover yourself in raw meat and throw yourself into a crowd of waiting zombies. The redeeming factor in the punishing save system is that if you are forced to begin the game again, you do so with the experience and skills gained from your previous abortive attempts, which makes for an increasingly easy start over.

Even though Dead Rising is mostly about mindless violence delivered in amusing ways, the game manages to stay fun by combining I’m-about-to-be-eaten-alive panic with a number of small missions that reward you with prestige points. As you earn points, you gain experience levels, allowing you to improve your fighting skills, gain more health and increase the amount of weapons you can carry. As a freelance photo-journalist, you’re encouraged to snap photos of dramatic events as they unfold. The more intense the shot, the more points you’ll be given. Over 50 bizarre and hilarious unlockable achievements make sure there really is something for everyone. Sadly the game lacks online play, but world rankings are available for anyone just dying to know how they stack up.

Graphics in the cut scenes aren’t particularly good for the next generation abilities. Luckily, the cut scene-heavy opening levels out a bit, and you won’t be stuck watching an animated movie rather than actually playing a game. The in-game graphics aren’t stunning either, but every single setting is more than detailed and interesting enough to keep you happy. It might be next generation, but realistically, nobody will be buying this game because of the meticulously recreated rotting zombie flesh.

Given the R18 rating, everyone buying this game should be big and ugly enough to know exactly the kind of game they’ll be getting with Dead Rising. It’s violent, gory, senseless and incredibly entertaining. The result is a game that you’ll keep coming back to, no matter how long it might take to play through.

Dead Rising
"Ridiculous fun we’ve been waiting for all year."
- Dead Rising
Follow Own it? Rating: R18   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 15 Min


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Comments Comments (1)

Posted by swetsalot
On Monday 27 Oct 2008 6:09 PM
I loved this although the text was a bit small to read. Hard not to love a game where you can dress like your granma and chop zombies up with a chainsaw although i prefer that giant spinning drill zombie torso go round and round.