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Xbox 360












M (Mature)



August 2006




- Lots of nooks and crannies to explore; plenty of secrets to find

- Killing zombies with a plethora of items

- Good cutscenes

- Taking pictures adds an extra layer of depth



- Save system is likely to drive the weak minded to the brink of insanity

- Otis calling Frank on the radio will get on your nerves



Review: State of Emergency (XB)

Review: Resident Evil 4 (GC)

Review: Resident Evil Zero (GC)



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Dead Rising

Score: 8.0 / 10


Dead Rising puts you behind the lens of Frank West, a photojournalist, recently dropped off at the Willamette Mall, which has been mysteriously infested with the walking dead (popularly known as zombies).  With the clock continually counting down, Frank has 72 hours to get the story and return to the roof of the mall to catch his ride out.  It's a task that is anything but simple.


dead rising          dead rising


Though the mall is crawling (literally in some cases) with zombies, there are survivors, two of whom seem to be deeply involved with whatever is happening in the mall: burly Brad and busty Jessie.  Though much of the game is open-ended in terms of selecting your own objectives, there is still a mandatory path and set of objectives that must be completed (otherwise it's game over).  Most objectives come from mall janitor Otis, who often calls you on the two-way radio to alert you to possible survivors or where Frank's considerable zombie killing skills are required.  Many of these turn into escort missions, hoofing it across large expanses of the mall in order to lead the survivor(s) back to the Security Room.  But most survivors have the IQ of the walking dead, so it's a good idea to equip them with a weapon to temper the fact most escort missions can be extremely frustrating because there's so much babysitting involved, particularly at night when the zombies are more aggressive and can take more damage.


The list of weapons is extremely long.  Just scratching the surface, the list includes sledge hammers, swords, mannequins, benches, shelving units, plants, jewelry, lead pipes, frying pans (which can be heated up for higher damage), hunting knives, shopping carts, a lawn mower, free weights, chainsaws, scythes, shotguns, handguns, and, my absolute favorite, sheets of plywood.  Though you may think running out of shotgun ammo in a zombie-infested mall would be a bad thing, there's always something nearby that can be hefted and hurled or swung 




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to use as a weapon.  That said, it's always good to know where you can find a sledge hammer or scythe when you really need it, because sometimes a trash can just won't do the job.


The mall is packed with a variety of shops that Frank can pilfer for useful items.  Book stores harbor material that can extend the life of your weapons, increase the amount of Prestige Points earned 


when taking pictures, among other effects.  Frank can also visit clothing stores, sometimes with funny results.  During the mandatory missions there's not a lot of time to fool around in the shops to find hidden goodies, but there's enough "free time" between the story missions to allow for some exploration.  Keeping Frank's health topped up is an easy task, just visit a restaurant or food court and see what's behind the counter.  And don't be afraid to mix things up, create your own concoctions and see what happens!


Throughout the course of the game Frank earns Prestige Points point which allow him to level-up, which gives Franks new moves (disemboweling a zombie is empowering!), more hit points, and more inventory slots .  This is absolutely critical.  While it's possible to earn enough PP to level-up by completing chapters of the main story and secondary objectives, the process is sped up considerably by taking pictures.


dead rising          dead rising


Taking pictures throughout the mall, sometimes at key moments, results in a graded photo.  Grouped into different categories, including Horror and Erotic, depending on what's happening in the frame, Frank is awarded with a cumulative score, which adds to his Prestige Points meter.  I have to admit I spent a lot of time running around taking pictures for no other reason than to see how many Prestige Points I could score.


On the whole, Dead Rising turns out to be a ton of fun except for the maddening save system, which is cause for moderate to high levels of frustration. (And judging by the reaction on the Internet, I'm not the only one.)  Capcom deliberately chose to include only one save slot.  One.  Uno.  These means that if you save at the wrong time, it can actually mean it will be impossible for Frank to complete a mandatory mission which forces you to restart the game.  (The only upside to this is that Frank will begin the game with the upgraded stats he had when he died.)  Couple that with the necessity of trudging off to find a save point (the couch in the security room or one of the rest rooms miserly scattered around the mall) and you're looking at a situation where you'll be playing large portions of the game again and again trying to acquire an optimal outcome.


My only other gripe is that when Frank answers a call from Otis, Frank is completely defenseless.  And Otis calls often and with very few places where Frank can safely answer the call, there are plenty of times when the zombies will get the jump on Frank simply because he has to avoid them rather than splat their brains with a sledge hammer.


dead rising          dead rising


With a framerate that rarely chokes, even with many, many zombies on-screen at once -- sometimes way, way in the background -- and interesting mall design, Dead Rising is a great game to just watch as long as you're not squeamish -- Dead Rising revels in its brutality and gore.


Though Dead Rising pulls its inspiration from the George Romero classic Dawn of the Dead, the expected hokiness of the plot and dialogue is surprisingly absent (same for any obvious social commentary).  In fact, most of the voice acting actually feels understated.  And the blocking of the cutscenes makes Dead Rising feel a little bit like a movie rather than something hobbled together by a game developer.  A very fun movie that concentrates on splatting zombie heads with plenty of reasons to come back to try to better previous run-throughs to unlock some cool extras and earn Achievements.


Just be warned of the save system.


- Omni

(August 17, 2006)


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