August 17, 2006

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Dead Rising (360)
Capcom, 2006

I beat up 300 zombies with a guitar and all I got was this Pulitzer Prize. Confused? Play a little Dead Rising and youíll grok my meaning.

The 360 has underwhelmed of late. Itís launch titles have proven to be woefully sub-par and much hyped early titles like Chromehounds are simply bad games. Dead Rising turns the tide and finally puts some genuine fun into the Box.

Dead Rising puts you in control of Frank West a photo journalist who is investigating the military quarentine of a small Colorado town. Dropped on the roof of the Willamette mall you have to stay alive for three days (in real, not speedy game time no less) until your copter buddy comes back to save you from the teaming zombie hordes.

In order to survive, and to learn the truth behind what caused the zombie outbreak you must engage in a series of ďmissionsĒ for Otis, the mall janitor. Otis does keep the action motivated beyond the ďOh NOES! the zombies are gonna be eating my brain meats!Ē hack and slash gameplay. Completing these missions is an enjoyable ordeal testing your finesse at navigation (like jumping from fruit cart to fruit cart to avoid zombies) ingenuity (like welding doors shut to avoid zombies) and grit (like bashing zombie heads in with a 3 wood). The ginormous mall is chock full of stores that are fully detailed in layout and stocked with items for zombie beaning.

The one gripe that many have with dead Rising is in itís odd save system. Only one game can be saved per XBOX and only at certain save locations. the problem is that players can conceivably save their progress at a point that is simply to far from their mission objective to complete it in time. This forces you to restart from the begining. Fortunately Frank gets tougher and faster as you progress through the game gaining stats and abilities as would befit an RPG hero and these gains are not interuptted by restarting a mission. In fact many of the tasks in the game are considerably easier having failed one or two times. Not simply because the layout and progression of the mission has become more familiar, but also due to your increased attributes. Hardcore Survival-Horror gamers may scoff at this as a crutch but it does keep the game at the appropriate challenge level throughout the grueling 72 hour onslaught.

Dead Rising lacks multiplayer functionality, itís save system can make you throw a controller or two and itís graphics while good, are not the slickest polygons seen on the 360. That said, Dead Rising is damn fun. Itís got a good plot, tons of secrets and in jokes (like the Mega Man 2 movie at the theater) and the allure of zombie head caving; which never grows old. A-

ó Glenn Given