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Dead Rising Review

Dead Rising pack shot
Genre:Third Person Action
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://ww2.capcom.com/deadrising/
Release Date:September 8, 2006 (UK)
Reviewer:Ryan Sayce (Stan)
Buy now at Amazon.co.uk

When there is no more room left in hell the dead shall walk the earth, it's a safe bet to say that many of us at gameSlave bought our Xbox 360's just for Dead Rising which we hoped would bring a whole new world of zombie bashing into our lives, not that we like dead things all that much you'll understand, *cough*.

The story revolves around Frank, a photographer who is about to get the scoop of his life if he can just stay alive long enough to get the pictures and get out of this zombie infested hell hole of a mall. The use of the camera is one of the more novel features of the game, allowing you to take pictures of anything and the more interesting the picture the more PP points it awards you. PP points are much like experience points given in many games, the more you collect the more you will level up, however you don't just have to take pictures to get PP rewards, you can save people or complete the single player story quests.

You have 72 in game hours to do with as you please until your ride returns for you; this is roughly 8 hours or so of real time. Almost all of your time is taken up inside the mall. Now for the British here don't worry its not your typical walk through in five minutes shopping center, this is probably one of the largest malls in the world, housing any number of shops including book stores and sports stores, and of course a gun shop. Each store has its own unique items and weapons, with the book store having books that can increase the length of time it takes before your weapons break or even give you the ability to speak Japanese so that you can rescue some lost tourists. In the cafe's you can combine some of the items you find to make potions that can temporarily increase your speed or even attract more zombies towards you.

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You can spend your time following the single player storyline or completely ignore it in favour of the side missions which can involve saving some helpless person or fighting a chainsaw wielding clown, heck you can even hide in the security office for the entire time never having to have fought a zombie. The open ended nature of this game is one of its greatest strengths allowing you to play through the 72 hour mode again and again and each time finding something else different. There are several other game modes to be unlocked including overdrive and unlimited time play, I wont go into what these are for fear of spoiling the surprise for you, however its safe to say you will still be playing this game for weeks to come.

You can't review a zombie game without mentioning the zombies themselves, and this is yet another area where Dead Rising stands out from the crowd, gone are the days of having one or two zombies on screen at once, there are parts of Dead Rising where I am sure that there are hundreds of zombies on screen at once, I could try and count them all but I am pretty sure I would end up as zombie food before I got even a tenth the way through them. While not every zombie looks unique there are certainly a lot of different looking zombies about, be it down to their size and weight or clothes or even sometimes the fact they are missing legs or arms. Infact there are so many zombies in this game that they act more as speed bumps to slow you down than being any real danger to you. The only time zombies tend to be a problem is if you are stuck underground and there are thousands of zombies between you and the closest exit or when you have to protect some idiot who got themselves stuck in a shop surrounded by zombies.

In zombie mythology, it's fairly common to assume that destroying the brain is the only way to permanently destroy a zombie, in Dead Rising this not the case, I've killed plenty of zombies by just simply running them over with a lawnmower or even ripping out their innards with my bear hands. And indeed, weapons in Dead Rising are yet another standout point, if you can think of it and it's sold in an American mall then chances are you will be able to use it as a weapon. Unless it's in a sex shop as they have not seen fit to put one of these in the game which is a pity as I would have enjoyed beating a zombie to death with a big rubber dildo. However with rubber toys aside pretty much everything else is available as a weapon, even if some of them don't actually do any sort of damage; the water pistol for example. One of my favourite weapons is actually one of the more basic ones, I love the sledge hammer; just the feel and sound of the impact as the hammer meets the zombies head and it just explodes - fantastic. If you hadn't figured it out yet, this is no game for kids and truly deserves its 18 rating.

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Some weapons last very shot periods of time but if you carry around certain books these can increase the durability by as much as twenty seven times the normal. The most powerful of weapons tend to be dropped from the various psychopaths [boss's] that are littered throughout this huge mall. The best of these is the mini chainsaw, you can't imagine the sheer look of joy on my face when I am able to run around cutting off legs and arms and heads of zombies as I run by them.

Most of the psychopaths you get access to via the radio that Otis the security guy hands to you at the start of the game, sadly the radio isn't voiced so you get text on the screen instead. This wouldn't be such a large problem if the text wasn't so damn small and the fact that while using the radio you can't attack anything. This is a really bad idea whilst in the middle of a mall full of thousands upon thousands of zombies who are intent on eating your brains. Once you get a call over the radio or you are given a mission from one of the main characters, you then have a limited amount of time to complete said mission before they die or the mission ends, this adds a new dimension to the game as it's not possible to do everything in one go. You have to choose between saving a couple of lovers or doing one of the story missions, however sadly if you so much miss as much as one of the story missions then you cant carry on with the plot during this play through. However you can then choose to carry on playing or start again with all the stats you have already required, this is a fantastic option in my opinion, greatly enhancing the replay-ability.

Complaints about the save system have been quite common so far, and it does only gives you one save game file per device, you can store one save game on your hard drive then another on the memory card. You will however have to be careful about saving games when in the middle of missions. It definitely would have been nice to be able to have more than one save game per device though.

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Sadly not all in the land of zombies is perfect, ignoring the save system issues there are a few problems that keep Dead Rising from being a true great. The most annoying problem by far is the A.I. of the NPC's you have to rescue. I kid you not when I say that it makes the old scientists and hostages in the first Half-Life look amazing. I don't know how many times I have been escorting some one to safety for them to stop in the middle of zombies and start shooting. Sometimes you have to escort more than one person to safety which just increases the stupidity, sometimes one of them is also injured and you'll have to put them on your back which as it happens turns out to be the easiest way to get some of them out of harm's way. That is unless the other NPC you are escorting has a gun, as I found they would more often than not shoot you instead of the zombies, quite often causing you to drop the person on your back.

On more than one occasion I was so close to throwing my controller across the room and it's not the only A.I. flaw. Sometimes I would be busy trying to save an NPC from yet another horde of zombies and they would run in front of Frank and end up with a sledge hammer embedded in their face, not really good for their health. You also have to guide these morons around by constantly shouting at them to follow you or telling them to go to a certain spot. Bad A.I. doesn't matter on zombies as they are just meant to mill about but the team at Capcom really should have put far more effort into the A.I. of the NPC's in my opinion.

There is something about running through a mall at night surrounded by hundred's of zombies with their moaning coming out of all your speakers in Dolby digital, without any trace of slowdown. I would come close to say it is miraculous that the engine can cope with the sheer amount of enemies on screen that it does. The only time I noticed any sign of slowdown was towards the end of the game when the screen was full of enemies but not just zombies, there were soldiers as well and they was firing their guns and smashing all the windows and making all the items go flying, I think it was just a tad too much for the game. Sadly the audio side of things doesn't stand up as well as the graphics, yes all the characters that are voiced are done well and the sound effects are spot on, especially the sound of a hammer caving in a zombie's skull. However a large percentage of the characters are not voiced including Otis who will give you all your missions, this means taking your eyes off the zombies and reading some incredibly small text [even on my 43 inch screen it's small]. If oblivion can record how ever many hundred of hours of dialogue I am sure Capcom could have recorded the few hours needed for Dead Rising, I guess it just comes down to time and funding.


I can safely say that I have really enjoyed the time I've spent playing Dead Rising and even though I have spent well over twenty hours playing it, I am sure I have not yet found all the items and psychos to kill. Sadly the poor A.I. and the lack of full voice acting mean that I can't really give the game a very high score, I would still recommend you buy this game despite these flaws, yes; one hundred percent. If you love zombie movies and games then you MUST play Dead Rising as it shows the way zombies should be, they kill you because of overwhelming numbers, and this is the first game that really gets that point across. Not to mention the fantastic amount of weapons and other things I haven't had time to mention. Frank's cross dressing for one, Dead Rising is not a perfect game but it is a very good one. I really hope they make a sequel that addresses some of these issues, maybe a deserted city full of zombies this time.

The bottom line
8.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Hundreds of zombies on screen at once
  • Insane amounts of weapons
  • Good graphics engine
  • Camera element
  • Open ended
  • Huge amounts of replay ability
  • Harder at night

Not so good stuff

  • NPC's have very, very annoying A.I.
  • Not all the characters are voiced
  • NPC A.I. Yes, it's that bad

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