Posts Tagged ‘dead rising’

With so many zombie horror games about these days, I thought it would be a good idea to take two of the biggest – both exclusives to the 360 – and pit them against each other in a vicious fight to the death. Zombie death. Brains!

Dead Rising

Going to the mall can be hell. A zombie apocalypse can be hell. Combine the two and you have… fantastically fun survival-horror comedy gold.

The objective of the game is simple: you are photojournalist Frank West – he’s covered wars, you know – with three days (six real-time hours) to kill in the mall before your helicopter comes and picks you up. What this leads to is a furiously over-the-top race against time as you rush across the huge arena trying to get all the missions, side quests and fun things done before the game ends.

It’s an incredibly intricate game that rewards multiple playthroughs. Adding to the replayability is the excellent RPG-type stat boosting that allows you to go back into the mall with a much tougher Frank. At the beginning, Frank will be lucky to run from one end of a plaza to another without suffering nigh-mortal wounds. By the time he’s completely maxed out, zombies are little more than an annoyance – heads are kicked off, guts torn out, faces stomped, bodies thrown and zombies generally wiped out before they can groan at you. The major problem with this is that by the time you’re good enough to earn huge amounts of EXP (or ‘PP’ as it’s known here), you don’t need it. Maybe a few more levels above fifty would have been a good idea?

The game’s excellent running time makes it perfect for both casual bursts and long stints, with the game falling neatly into both categories, while only really allowing the truly dedicated to uncover the mystery and escape the mall with all the survivors. The genius of this is that the game can be played in any number of ways – missions, survivors or both – it’s totally your choice.

Throughout the three days, Frank is kept on a pretty tight leash thanks to a fairly irritating character who constantly rings him up to inform him of other survivors that have been spotted across the mall. From that moment on, it’s another race against the clock to find them and bring them back to safety before the zombies eat them. It’s a great idea that works in theory, but is fatally flawed in execution because of one simple fact: the AI in this game is atrocious.

All the NPC survivors (you can escort up to eight at once) have a unique personality, from running on ahead to trying to murder everything to – annoyingly – crawling on hands and knees, but they all share the same problems. The pathfinding in Dead Rising is among the worst in videogame history. Any item of any height – be it an ankle-high plant pot or a wall – becomes a serious obstacle for the NPCs and instead of trying to find another route, they will instead keep blindly running straight into it, unable to figure out what is stopping them from getting to where they need to go.

Another problem is that the final hours of the game (one hour in real-time) is incredibly boring. Whether or not you’ve completed the main missions, there is absolutely nothing to do – it’s even worse if you have because all the obstacles in the game are literally removed for the last fifteen minutes, leading to a really pointless spot of clock-watching. A further point of contention is the terrible handling of all the game’s vehicles. All six of them have the feel of being completely bolted on in the final hours of development, with little thought being done to implement them in a clever way.

However, when Dead Rising is good, it’s very good. One minute you’re dodging zombies and carrying a limping woman across a huge park whilst armed convicts drive past and try to kill you, the next you’re shooting at a deranged chainsaw-juggling clown for the right to switch off a children’s ride.

All in all, this is a truly excellent game with an incredible amount of thought gone into the development, and it shows. With perhaps a few more tweaks, this could have beaten the mighty Resident Evil to the King of the Zombies crown. Worthy of carrying a franchise on its own, this is one shopping trip from hell not to be missed.

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