Mall of the dead, wait… hasn’t that already been done?
Whilst in a slightly unusual period of not having any new games to review, and after watching the fantastic TV drama ‘Dead Set’ (which I highly recommend to anyone) I decided to have another go at Dead Rising for the 360. I gave up on this game the first time around after completing the 72 hour mode, as I spent the majority of the time completing the main story cases and running around killing zombies in the most creative ways possible. This, understandably, gets a little boring after a while, and I found myself moving on to another game after completing the first 72 hours.
For those of you who haven’t heard of dead rising, it tells the story of ‘Frank West’. A photojournalist, who unwittingly gets dropped into the middle of a zombie infested mall, after believing he was going to photograph a riot. Frank, along with several other survivors (including DHS agents Brad and Jessie,), sets out to discover the truth about why everyone in the town has been turned into zombies. Their investigations are soon disrupted by Carlito, an apparent terrorist who is somehow tied in with the zombie outbreak.
The game takes a freeform style, and you can spend the 72 hours leading up to the return of your helicopter in whatever way you like. The game presents you with the main cases which help towards unlocking the true story, as well as scoops which allow you to rescue additional survivors, or battle crazed psychopaths who have cracked under the stress of the outbreak. None of these missions are enforced however, and should you so choose you can spend the 72 hours sitting in the security room, or visiting various shops finding new outfits, and different weapons to kill the zombies with. Completing the main cases unlocks ‘overtime mode’, which is a kind of extension to the main mode, which I won’t spoil for you.
I would recommend this title to any 360 owner with a strong stomach
Frank’s occupation as a photographer also puts a large emphasis on taking pictures. Better pictures mean more PP, which means ‘leveling up’ faster (explained later). Pictures fall into several categories (drama, horror, out-takes, erotica etc…) but ultimatley the photography element seems pretty pointless. The only thing I really found it useful for was zooming in and taking pictures of Jessie’s voluptuous breasts.
Graphics are above average, and while not quite up to the best games the 360 has to offer, they are well fitted to the game. There is also as much gore as you would expect from a game of this type, and I never lost the satisfaction of blowing a zombies head off with a shotgun and watching blood spurt from it’s neck. Different weapons have different effects on zombies, and I’ve found some to be particularly humorous and satisfying.
A tense soundtrack is also included, and different areas of the mall play different elevator style music, as you would expect from a real mall. The music can become slightly repetitive, but not so much as to become distracting. The voice acting seems quite over-enthusiastic, but it can be forgiven given the setting of the game. One disappointing element was that outside of FMV sequences, all communication is done in text form. I would have liked it more if the voice actors had been given more to do throughought the game, but I imagine budget restrictions did not allow this.
One of the more unusual elements for a game of this type was the ability to ‘level up’ your character. You can earn PP for certain actions, such as killing a certain number of zombies, killing zombies in a particularly gruesome or humorous way, defeating boss characters, or completing missions and rescuing survivors. These points all contribute towards levelling up, which can mean more powerful and different attacks, more inventory slots, faster movement, more life and various other elements. While I do think this is a good system, levelling up became an extremely long winded and time consuming process further on in the game, and some of the effects were barely noticeable if at all.
I would recommend this title to any 360 owner with a strong stomach, because at some points in this game, you WILL need one. It is a great, if not entirely original concept (Dawn of the dead anyone?) which is executed to near perfection. Some things in this game could be improved, but overall I found it exceptionally fun and filled with dark humour. An inclusion of some sort of multiplayer element might have been nice, but is ultimately un-necessary. The lack of an autosave function may also frustrate some, and you will most likely find yourself going back and doing several hours of scoops or explorations again because you forgot to go to a save point. Overall though, despite it’s faults, dead rising is an excellent game that is probably the most fun the 360 has to offer.
The Bad: Lots of text-based coversations, regular manual saving can become frustrating.