What if you took the popularity of the [i]Resident Evil[/i] series, took a page from classic zombie horror flicks, added in some free-roaming game play, and crammed it all inside of a good old American mega mall? You’d probably end up with something a lot like [i]Dead Rising[/i], Capcom’s latest non-[i]Resident Evil[/i] zombie trip. Forgoing the deep, serious plot presented by their flagship zombie killer, Capcom opted out for more of a free-range zombie-slaughter adventure, allowing people to take out their aggression on the undead en masse. It seems to have paid off too, as [i]Dead Rising[/i] may possibly be one of the most unique and enjoyable games released on the Xbox 360.
[i]Dead Rising[/i] pays specific homage to a number of classic horror flicks, the most obvious being George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978). You play as Frank West, an unusually buff photojournalist at large, who has decided to investigate why the National Guard has roped off the rural town of Willamette, Colorado. The reason, as Frank soon finds out, is because the town has turned into a zombie-infested freak show. Frank decides to take his chances and get the whole story in a nearby mega mall and tells his chartered pilot to pick him up in three days. Until then, you’re charged with surviving the undead and getting the scoop to end all scoops, as well as finding out just what’s gone wrong in Willamette.
There are probably two things that set [i]Dead Rising[/i] apart from any previous zombie-themed game. The first is the sheer number of zombies on screen at a time. If you ever saw the first video for the game at E3 2005, you were probably amazed at the closing shot showing Frank atop a truck overlooking a literal sea of zombies. While it isn’t exactly as huge as that video looked, the final product isn’t very far off. Each section of the huge mall is packed with hundreds of zombies to beat down on, complete with a kill counter to monitor the carnage. To get an idea of just how many zombies there are, one of the Xbox Live achievements is to kill 53,594 zombies in one game. One game. Needless to say, getting this many rotting corpses on screen without the frame rate bogging down to Hell is quite an accomplishment.
Of course, you’ll need something to kill all those zombies with, leading to the game’s second feature: the ability to use anything and everything as a weapon. The game forces you to get creative with anything you can find and has well over 200 items to utilize, including: lawnmowers, shotguns, baseball bats, gardening shears, water guns, bass guitars, compact discs, chainsaws, umbrellas, machetes, katanas, and cars; basically if you can imagine what you would find in a typical mall, you can wail away at the undead with it. It’s all very fun and really gives you a feeling that you’re doing everything in your power to survive being turned into zombie chow. Granted, some of these items don’t exactly work very well (given the fact that you wouldn’t really use CDs to attack people in real life), but I think it’s a pretty novel idea to include even useless items in the roster.
There is one main game mode at the beginning of [i]Dead Rising[/i], although as you progress through the game, you’ll unlock two others modes. 72 Hour Mode is the main attraction here and has Frank trying to survive for three days until the helicopter comes to pick him up. Time passes by in real time in [i]Dead Rising[/i] (albeit at a much more accelerated pace), during which you’re given case files to complete which help to uncover the mystery behind the zombie outbreak and are required to be completed in order to get the A