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Dead Rising XBox 360 Review - -

Gameplay 8.9
Graphics 9.0
Sound 8.7
Value 8.5
Distributor: THQ
Review Date:
September 2006
Edwin Millheim


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Dead Rising

The whispers came, those turned into a lot of coverage on a game coming soon with a horror survival feel, something that would take advantage of the power of the Xbox 360. By this time of course the first wave of 360 games have come and while the gee wiz that looks incredible knee jerk reaction is still there when a game uses what the 360 has to offer…we are perhaps just a bit more harder to impress now. A game with eye candy alone is not going to do it.

Now, Dead Rising shambles into the gaming arena with some pretty awesome visuals, and hundreds of flesh munching zombies to wade through on screen at once. Other games most notably the Resident Evil series has brought Survival horror along it’s way in the gaming realm and has used Zombies, but never before like this. Now with so many flesh munchers on screen, you really do cringe as you’re trying to make your way past the hordes of animated corpses.

The town is quarantined by the military but this of course won’t stop you, you’re playing Frank West a photo journalist. Hiring a Helicopter pilot you find your way past the military road blocks and on the way hovering over the town you take pictures of the strange riot that is taking place. Soon you are realizing there is more to this than meets the eye. Getting dropped off on the roof of a shopping mall you are all set to get the story and the pictures that will get you set as a top photojournalist. You have a mere 72 hours before the copter pilot is coming back for you…what could go wrong?

Well it all goes to hell pretty fast as you find yourself in the lower level of the Mall with a few survivors who are trying to barricade the doors to keep the Zombies out. Of course some one (I won’t ruin it for you) causes the Zombies to get in…and everything gets worse from there. But it all means more fun for you in this zombie bashing romp from Capcom. While it could get little old putting zombies down to a final demise, there are some almost mindless survivors to interact with, some you will end up trying to save, others will become foes who are doing there best to kill you, and so you have to try your best to return the favor.

During game play as the character finds out more information about the events that have taken place, and how they caused all of this mayhem, Case Files are created. Over time and game play the case files pieces of the puzzle fill up and more is learned about the events and also what exactly is going on. After all, The Dead rising from the graves would be way too simple…wouldn’t it? There is more to these creatures than meets the eye.

The game is a roller coaster ride of both fun and frustration at times. One of the biggest things that will cause you to cringe is the limited save options…there are no save any where options here. Oh no friend, you will have to either find your way back to the security center, or find the public bathrooms to save your game. This in itself ads a bit of dreaded urgency to the game. One wrong step and poor Frank is eaten by zombies, and you have to start back at a save point. Plus you now have to make your way through all the hordes of zombies once more. Now if that does not cause your nerves to get on edge I don’t know what will. Another bit of an annoying thing are the text messages that come over the radio… yes, I said text messages over the radio. The text is pretty darn small; I am running the game on a high def Sanyo television with a 30 inch screen. I cannot imagine trying to read the text on a smaller screen.

Speaking of graphics, the games over all look is just incredible. The designers used what the 360 is capable of and really brought this game to life. As day turns into night the lighting changes appropriately, floors and liquids on the floors reflect nicely. The models and locations all look colorful and detailed and even with double and triple digit number of zombies on screen manages to keep the frame rate running at a smooth rate. Small things like some areas like stores loading its graphics only as you’re near to it do nothing to degrade the fun of the game at all.

Sound has enough punch to it that the wet crunch of a zombie’s head being bashed in causes you to either wince or sit there with a big stupid grin on your face. Voice acting is done pretty well and lends it self well to the over all environment of the game and the situation. If anything did cause me some annoyance it was some characters that cry and whine about their whole situation. But hey, the varied reactions of these characters make some sense, after all how would you react to something like this? In control? Totally out of your mind? Wallowing in your own hopelessness? While I understand the concept, the survivors some times try my patience, some times I just wanted to feed them to the zombies and be done with it and to hell with the clues.

Well now, you may be asking yourself how the heck do you get to kill off these animated monsters? The ways are various and all are pretty wild and, dare I say it? Fun. Yes it is a wicked indulgence to say so, but it is fun. Almost anything can be grabbed hold of and used as a weapon or a distraction. Amongst the obvious weapons like firearms, there are knives, shopping carts, chain saws, base ball bats and even caution cones that can be used to drop on the head of a zombie and blind them. One of my favorite things to do is to have a hand gun and then in the middle of a large gathering of flesh munchers hope to see a propane tank…shooting these causes a very decent explosion that takes them out. But have a care, if you’re too close to the blast radius you too will be knocked down.

You’re going to be bashing zombies a lot in this game, there are just way too many of them not to. From the firearms mentioned to such things as potted plants and even Ketchup containers… (If you get a chance use a ketchup container on a zombie. it is funny as all get out.) As you do more combat your character levels up and the skills become more advanced, such things as health also improve which is a good thing because, from zombies biting you or swatting at you, or some other survivors shooting at you…. You will need your skills just to survive. As health goes down the character is able to replenish themselves by finding various food substances around the mall. The food court is a good location for finding health goodies. You are also able to carry a number of items, I suggest trying to keep at least two food items handy as often as you can. You will need it, also save as often as you can too.

What’s really sweet about this game is that even though you’re doing pretty much the same thing over and over again, it almost does not feel repetitive. The whole key is not only so many different ways to do battle against the Dead hordes, but the fact that there are some tactical things sprinkled through out, in strategic places there are scaffolds that the character can climb onto and there for get a much needed breather and a safe haven away from the dangers of the dead ones. It is a game that you will find yourself playing over and over again, just for the jolly of opening up new achievements and skills.

One of the best things about the game is being able to start all over again, but being able to do it at the current skill level. What a wonderful thing to have! It makes me forgive the designers for not being able to save any time or place in the game.

Dead Rising brings on some of the best elements of the survivor horror genre and ads some twists to it here and there. The more interesting things are the twists with the zombies…I won’t ruin it for those who have not played as of yet…especially since the editors in Australia have just gotten their hands on the game…but Dead Rising has all the elements of a hot title that burns bright for a time, you put it down and then the glow just draws you in to play a bit more. Addictive, horrific fun.

Edwin Millheim
Have fun, play games.


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