Final Verdict: Dead Rising
In the small city of Willamette, Colorado , there’s something strange going on… Frank West, a wartime photojournalist, comes to investigate the city of 53,594 because it has been quarantined by the National Guard. While flying in via helicopter, Frank notices strange activities occurring on the ground, and orders the pilot to drop him off at the center of town. Here, the pilot finds a helipad at the local mall, where he drops Frank off.
From the point when Frank is dropped off at the helipad, the player of Dead Rising has complete control over Frank and his movements. Nearly every decision the player makes decides how the rest of the game plays out, and eventually decides one of the six possible endings to the story. The player's basic goal in Dead Risingis to follow a series of objectives to discover the truth of what is happening in Willamette, survive for 72 hours, and to be back at the helipad by the end of those 72 hours to get flown back home.
Immediately after being dropped off, Frank is led down to the first floor of the mall, and the player is introduced to some of the survivors. Here, an incident involving an older woman and her dog allows zombies in the front doors of the mall. Amid the following attack, you escape the scene by running up a flight of stairs, while survivors around you are dying. Once escaping the attack, the player is led by one of the survivors to the “Security Room,” where a small group of other survivors have set up a safe haven, away from the invaders. This is where the player brings all the survivors that are rescued in the game, and even where some parts of the storyline unfold.
The mall has many interesting features and characteristics, most of which are not accessible from the beginning of the game. As the story progresses, you gain access to more and more areas within the mall. A significant feature of the mall is the maintenance tunnels that are built beneath it. The maintenance tunnels takes you to every part of the mall, and are used to get from place to place more quickly. The mall also contains every kind of store imaginable, including: sports stores, camera stores, gentlemen’s clothing stores, women’s clothing stores, stores that are under construction, a grocery store, hardware stores, shoe stores, and restaurants, just to name a few.
Very shortly after being dropped off at the mall, Frank discovers that the attack on the city of Willamette is a zombie infestation. Since Frank is a photojournalist, the player will need to take pictures of his surroundings throughout the game. This gives the player Prestige Points, which are then used to increase Frank’s abilities. In this way, Dead Rising has RPG elements to it’s primarily Action-Adventure style. Throughout the game, Frank has nearly 250 different weapons at his disposal to attack zombies, as well as hand-to-hand combat moves he can perform. As Frank increases in skill via Prestige Points, the number of different hand-to-hand combat moves he can perform also increases. The zombies in the game are fairly dumb and slow, but at night they become faster and more aggressive.
The most difficult aspect of the Dead Rising game is the time system the game employs. The player must complete missions within a certain amount of time. If the player fails to do so, the game is over. In many cases, objectives require you to run from Point A to Point B. While it sounds quite simple, this task is complicated by the player being surrounded by hundreds of zombies. Fortunately, the controls of the game are easy to master. The Dead Rising game is easy to play for somebody that’s not familiar with the Action-Adventure genre, yet complex enough for experts of the genre to enjoy.
The survivors in the game vary a great deal in personality, looks, and backgrounds. There are 100 characters in the game for you to discover, all of whom appear in Frank’s Journal after you’ve seen or met them. The game keeps an accurate account of the status of each of the characters you have discovered, and display them as “Located,” “Safe,” “Dead,” or “Undead” in the Journal. The “Undead” status means the character being referred to has become a zombie. The survivors that you find and are asked to save in the game also vary in intelligence. Unfortunately, the intelligence level of the survivors ranges from dumb to dumber, making them that much harder to escort to safety. The majority of the survivors that you find are afraid of what’s going on around them, and you have to literally hold their hand to get them back to the Security Room. In some cases, you even have to carry injured survivors back, preventing you from attacking any zombies in your way. Interestingly enough, even the bosses in the game are considered survivors, and for the purpose of reference, the game actually calls them “psychopaths.”
Bosses in the game take place in the form of psychopaths. For each psychopath you defeat, an additional feature or section of the mall is unlocked. You are also rewarded with a huge Prestige Point bonus after successfully defeating a psychopath.
Psychopaths are survivors from the city of Willamette who have been driven insane by the events unfolding within their town. The difference between psychopaths and other survivors is that regular survivors ask you for help, while psychopaths attempt to kill you. All the psychopaths differ in difficulty, skill, and preferred weapons. For example, some of the psychopaths you may encounter (you aren’t forced to encounter all of them) include; Cliff Hudson, a former Vietcong guerilla fighter who wields a machete, the Convicts, three unknown convicts who drive a truck armed with a machine gun, Paul Carson, an outcast teenager who uses Molotov cocktails, and Cletus Sampson, the malls' gun shop owner who uses a shotgun.
Dead Rising has simple controls that are easy to use, even for people that are not familiar with games of this genre. The storyline in the game moves at a steady pace with the time system that they employ, and is riveting from beginning to end. The main characters in the game are very believable, and the voice acting in the game is superb. Graphics in the game are fairly well done, but the most impressive part is that the game handles up to 800 zombies on the screen at one time. Even though Dead Risingis violent and bloody, it is addictive and fun to play, albeit slight ly repetitive. Dead Rising employs a great leveling up system to give you new skills, and has the interesting feature of snapping pictures of things you’ve done in the game. Willamette’s mall is a huge environment to explore, and contains hundreds of different weapons and items you can use to fight the zombies. The negative things about this game are that the time restraints never let you truly explore the mall unhindered by zombies, and the survivors only come in two varieties: dumb and dumber.
Video Ratings: Overall: 9.0
Gameplay: 9 (slightly repetitive)
Graphics: 8 (slightly blocky/square models)
Story: 9 (fast paced and kept you hooked beginning to end;
Audio: 10 (every item has a different and realistic sound)
Dead Rising is developed and published by Capcom.
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