Capcom is a very odd company when it comes to developing games. They pretty much blanked the original Xbox in favour of the PS2. Sure, we got a few bits here and there but Marvel Vs Capcom does not really make up for Resident Evil does it? If the 360 was going to make a name for itself, it needed to get Capcom into bed and start making some sweet zombie love. [Thanks for the great mental image - Ed]. Several months later, Dead Rising was born and what a fantastic zombie battering sim the game happens to be. While many films can attest to inventing the zombie flick, not many game companies can say that they invented the zombie game, but when it comes down to it, Capcom did start the whole zombie thing off with Resident Evil and they have managed to keep this zombie fixation going for years. With the 360 now out for nearly a year in the UK, Capcom must be looking at the figures and seeing that the console needed some zombie love. Dead Rising was their offering to us. The question arises however; What makes Dead Rising so great and is it worth you checking out?
When you think zombies, you think of the shuffling undead, slowly milling around like...um...zombies. Most of us have seen countless zombie films and the horror is not because they are slow, it is because they come in the hundreds. While Resident Evil managed the horror with 2 or 3 on screen, Dead Rising manages 3 or 4 on screen at any one time. When I say 3 or 4, I mean 3 or 4 thousand and I am not kidding when I say that. [Did you actually count them? -Ed] One of the things that makes Dead Rising so great is the sheer scale of zombie madness going on. Playing as Photo Journalist, Frank West you find yourself in Willamette Parkview Mall. You get to use your photo skills to take snaps of things you see around you in the hope that, if you survive the encounter, you will be famous. Now where else would you have a zombie invasion apart from a huge shopping center? As you sneak around the corner brandishing your golf-club, you can hear the shopping music mixed in with the moan of a group of zombies. The door opens as you peer out cautiously, seeing if you can spot the freaks and there they are, all off them.
Not many survival horror games have managed to fit so much action on screen but Capcom with 360's graphical grunt makes short work of detailed environments, great looking character models and thousands of the undead, all waiting to be battered to a squishy pulp. While you are confined to the mall, you are free to wander around and see the sites as well. Nip into any of the nearby empty shops and you can scavenge any goods you need to survive. Need some weaponry? Hop over to the Al Fresca Plaza or sneak into McHandy's Hardware and stock up on such delights as sledge-hammers, steel poles and the ever faithful zombie killer, the chainsaw. Maybe you have been in a few scrapes and need a pick-me-up. Not a problem, just head over to the Food Court and mix yourself up some smoothies or have a slice of pie. Capcom have spent hours and hours thinking up how we all work and fitting in all of the zombie hunting gear you could possibly want.
Since Frank is on a job and is trying to secure the scoop of his life, you encounter not only zombies but the humans that present themselves as a quick meal for those zombies. Everyone has their reason for being inside the mall at this time and many of them will aid you in getting done what you need to do. All of the quests are timed and you can keep a check on this by tapping Left on your D-Pad and Frank's watch will let you know what time it happens to be. The only annoying side of Dead Rising is that many of the time limits can be fairly strict and if you miss-time something then it is gone forever. This can be a pain if you want to try and get everything done first time but Capcom give you the choice to save your character progress and restart if you wish. I did this a few times just so you get to play a bit more but this also highlights the save game problems. You can only save once on the HDD and you over-write every time you re-save. If you have a memory card you get another save slot but this does end up being very frustrating if you go on a zombie blending spree, get eaten and remember you forgot to save, sending you all the way back to the starting screen. While this is only a small issue, it does happen to be very annoying when it happens, so I will warn you now: Don't Forget to Save.
Frank also has a very handy camera to play with and this is where Dead Rising heads into RPG territory. Yes you heard me correctly, Dead Rising has RPG elements in it. While out on your murderous slaughtering spree, you get to take some photo's of the carnage. Snap a picture of a few zombies and you get PP points for your best shots. Just below your HP bar you have a PP indicator which tracks how much PP you have attained so far. Get enough and you level up, giving you handy add-ons such as more health, more weapon space or special moves. Simple zombie snapshots gives you a small amount of PP but you need to think like a photo journalist and get the good shots. For example, someone is getting eaten by a zombie and you have a hammer and a camera. Do you save them or do you take a picture and get some bonus horror PP? The choice is yours but the only way you will get your level up is by saving people, finishing quests and snapping pictures. Littered around the mall are such things as costume heads and traffic cones and you get to collect these, slap them onto a zombies head and get a humour PP bonus from your photos. For those with a twisted mind, try taking photos of the semi-naked female zombies you see around and see what you get. Mix and match between the different types of shot to get a better bonus to your pics. Just keep your eyes open and your camera ready just in case a photo opportunity is waiting for you.
So far Dead Rising is sounding like a great laugh but there are a few downsides to all this fun. The first is how long this game lasts and the answer really depends on how you play the game. You can finish the game in a short amount of time but for those that want to attain higher levels and get access to some of the more fancy zombie killing moves, you will spend hours and hours playing this game. Dead Rising is a great game to show off to friends as the game is graphically excellent, especially in the sheer zombie amounts on screen at any one time. A few graphical glitches appear here and there but nothing that will detract from you having a great laugh. Sure it does not have the survival horror feel of Resident Evil but the comedy horror that Capcom have managed to fit into Dead Rising is plain to see and hear while playing. While the sound is nothing overly special it does have the boring lift style music that shopping centers have, the moaning and shuffling of zombies which they don't have and the sound of the weaponry caving in zombie skulls sounds just like I dreamed it would. [You need to get out more - Ed]
Overall Dead Rising manages to deliver on all of its promises. It's a great looking game with hours of gameplay, thousands of zombies to smash to bits and indulge our zombie hunting blood lust, a great game to show off to friends and family, (Except the under-age ones) but most off all, it brings the zombie genre onto the 360.