Dead Rising (X360) - Review by Kim Fidler
Every console generation always seems to have a title that is misunderstood. It has all the elements that makes a game great, yet it attempts something new that many who play just don’t seem to understand. When Dead Rising was released in 2006, it was praised as a title that tried to revolutionize the standard formula of open world games, while at the same time it was also criticized for its unforgiving real-time aspects. Described by Keiji Inafune, the game’s creator, as a throwback to the old school arcade cabinets from the 80s, it set out to reward those who stuck with the game and punish those who expected to have their hands held through the experience. Is it an enjoyable experience or does it come down to a frustrating test of patience?
Dead Rising, is essentially, a videogame companion to Dawn of the Dead. Even though a disclaimer exists to legally cover Sega from court room retribution, it’s influenced directly from the George Romero classic in a way that even the most diehard zombie fan can appreciate. It has hordes of zombies, it has a mall, and it has enough gore to make anyone squirm in their seat. What Dead Rising also borrowed from Dawn of the Dead is the very apparent backdrop of how us humans tend to react in dire situations. How many cower in fear, while some rise up to fight back, and how a certain few tend to take advantage of the situation for personal gain. While at its core it’s still a videogame, it tends to say many things without really saying anything at all.
The gameplay in Dead Rising is what many of us have come to expect from an open world style game. The player is given the ability to explore the environment, and with that exploration, is rewarded with perks that eventually will make the game much more enjoyable. When you first boot up Dead Rising, you may be a little confused. The game utilizes a levelling system, but doesn’t exactly tell you that in order to progress through the game it is almost essential to level up. At level 1, the main character Frank, is about as useless as the hostages he’ll eventually be rescuing. As he gains levels Frank will be rewarded with more health, more speed, and many maneuvers that will make traversing the mall much more fun.
Accompanying the levelling system, is the mechanic that Dead Rising uses in order to progress the game’s main storyline. From the moment you enter the mall, you have 72 hours of in-game time in order to accomplish all that you need to do. Whether that is investigate what caused the zombie outbreak, or rescue hostages, you will need to make sure that you are being as efficient as possible. What is frustrating about this mechanic for many is that if you are not working totally towards your goal, there is a good chance that you’re going to miss something important. This is where the multiple play through aspect of Dead Rising comes in.
At any point during the game, you can save your game and choose whether or not you’d like to continue or start a new game at your current level. The player is given 1 save slot and with that slot you have to go into each run-through of Dead Rising with a set goal in mind. This, along with the levelling system is where many players became frustrated with the game. Instead of being able to accomplish everything in 1 run of the game, you will have to instead split up your goals into multiple runs and complete them separately. It’s a new mechanic that works for those of us who like to get everything out of a title, but a nightmare for gamers that like to play a game once and be done with it.
Although it was released 2 years ago, I personally feel the graphics of Dead Rising are still some of the best on the Xbox 360 to date. The character models actually look like humans, and even though some of them can at times move around like robots, they still get around realistically enough. In a game with so many zombies, you would expect to see an overlap of zombie models, but thankfully the zombie types are never repetitive to the point of distraction. What I found to be the most impressive about the game is how at any given time, you could have a hundred zombies on the screen without a hint of slowdown or stutter. Considering there are games that struggle with keeping a dozen on the screen, it’s a nice change to see framerate optimization done right.
Dead Rising also has the advantage of being one of the few Capcom games that wasn’t completed butchered in terms of voice acting. Although some of the hostages can be a little over the top, many of the main characters sound good and deliver their lines in the tone that they’re suppose to be delivered in. The zombies sound exactly how I would expect zombies to sound, but be warned, someone in your house is going to become annoyed with their constant moaning. The soundtrack was also something that completely surprised me. I wasn’t really expecting anything that impressive, but every time I finished the game I found myself humming the theme to myself. There are some songs that seem a little too westernized to fit the theme of the game, but most of them tend to be perfect in the context their needed.
Although many complained about the mechanic of Dead Rising, I found myself having an immensely enjoyable time with it. The first time I went through the game, I made it my goal to familiarize myself with the mall and rescue as many hostages as I could. I thought I had explored the majority of the mall, but with my second play through I quickly realized I was wrong. I came across new areas as I played through the games storyline, and once again, I was surprised as to just how much there is to do within Dead Rising. Without spoiling anything for those of you who have yet to play it, there are many rewards waiting for those of you who decide to play through the cases of the game, and many things that will keep the player coming back for more.
If you want a great single player game and have a love for zombie movies, there isn’t a better game for you than Dead Rising. While Dead Rising isn’t perfect due to its very unforgiving way of throwing the player into an unfamiliar world with little to no guidance, it is exactly what most hardcore gamers will love. A challenging game that will reward those who decide to stick with it from beginning to end.