Zombies, zombies, zombies! The last several years have seen an explosion, and subsequent over-saturation of this phenomenon, to the point where even if they were featured in some of the more well received video games (Plants vs. Zombies) it really started to get tiresome. Before Valve was repainting the same title in order to get more money for a fundamentally flawed title, Capcom put together a brand new IP involving zombies. Enter Dead Rising — the peak of the zombie craze in the video game realm that didn’t involve the delicious Jill sandwich.
For the majority of the game, you will be held within the confines of a massive mall, which like the whole town its self, is infested with thousands upon thousands of zombies. Dead Rising shares a lot of similarities with George Romero’s 1978 film Dawn of the Dead, with a printed piece on the cover of the box stating that the game was not developed, approved or licensed by the owners or creators of the film. Regardless of any resemblance to the Dawn of the Dead film, the final product, while suffering in a few areas, proves to be one of the most enjoyable new IP’s in years, as well as one of my Top 25 of This Decade.
There’s a modest amount of gameplay to be had, between the regular mode and modes unlocked after defeating the game (explaining more would spoil some plot points). The mall you’re stationed in is impressive in size, though not the largest gaming world of its time. What does work considerably well though, are the numerous items you can use as weapons. Anything from a shopping cart, to a bowling ball, right on through to 2X4’s, can be used as weapons against the massive zombie invasion. There’s a lot to see, with a copious amount of diversity from each location within, and outside of the mall. It all looks wonderful, though there are significant clipping issues that does sour the sweet visual presentation. You soon forgive the clipping problems when you see the dozens upon dozens of zombies on screen at once, and the massive carnage you can unleash at anytime on these mostly dim-witted walking bags of rotted flesh. With a credible vocal performance backing up a stellar effects line up, you’ll be in for an enjoyable audio experience.
Dead Rising does falter at a handful of areas. You have little to no time to enjoy the scenery early on, as you’re kept to a strict time requirement. Past the halfway mark and beyond, you’ll be given more time to lollygag and slow the pace down. Throughout most of the game, there will be escort missions, as well as random civilians you can choose to rescue, or leave to die a miserable death. Having only one save slot will force you to make each save count, as going back to undo any previous actions become null and void. While there’s a wealth of incentive to keep coming back to Dead Rising (with some of the most challenging and creative, yet more than doable with enough effort), the ability to have three save slots would have helped cut down on repeated restarts of the game after it’s been conquered, just for some of the harder achievements.
There’s so much to see and do in Dead Rising that you’ll almost never feel like your second or third ventures are forced. While killing zombies in droves might grow stale on occasions, with the plethora of methods you can take them down, you can almost create your own sadistic games, just to stagger the pace and feel. Capcom made zombie games scarily good with Dead Rising, despite its flaws. A definite must-own title and a more than qualified candidate for my Top 25 of This Decade list from late last year.