IGN Review of Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop
On the Wii, everything old is new again. That's the philosophy of many publishers, including Capcom. Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop is the company's third remake for the system. The difference is that this is the first downgrade. Resident Evil 4 and Okami were both enhanced versions of last-generation games that added new features. Dead Rising, which appeared on the more powerful Xbox 360 back in 2006, had to be paired down to fit on the Wii. At the time of its original release, the main draw was the insane amount of zombies onscreen at once. Not surprisingly, the game arrives on Wii with much fewer undead. Our hero, photojournalist Frank West, has also forgotten how to use his camera, apparently. Despite these losses, though, there is still fun to be found in the Willamette shopping mall -- a testament to how solid the "zombie killing playground" design is.
Dead Rising might as well be the videogame version of Dawn of the Dead. Players are confined within a zombie infested shopping mall and must survive until rescue arrives. In order to keep the hordes of undead at bay, the developers allow us to use many, many items as weapons. Baseball bats, buckets, mannequins, chainsaws, golf clubs, shopping carts, teddy bears, benches, ladders, trash cans… Pretty much anything you can get your hands on can be used to beat, chop, or blast these zombies. Some weapons are more effective than others, of course, but the fun of the game is trying things out and discovering new items. All the while, a ticker in the bottom right corner of your screen keeps track of how many you've killed.
While the premise of the game is great, the story is…well, it's one of the worst stories I've ever encountered in videogames. The dialogue is wretched, and the delivery of these digital actors is lifeless and wooden. Have the writers at Capcom really not grown since the original Resident Evil? The story ends up trying to be a social commentary on our American lifestyle, but it will just have you rolling your eyes. If Dead Rising presented itself as campy, that would be a different story. But it appears to be trying to take itself seriously. Players, however, will be unable to.
The absurdity spills over into the gameplay, especially in boss fights. Most of these conflicts occur against human "psychopaths" who can somehow withstand hundreds of bullets, which is many, many more than any zombie you encounter. Sometimes, after enduring all these bullet holes, the human boss will actually escape instead of dying. Then there is the janitor who will let you use shortcuts through the mall -- if you tip him. What kind of a greedy bastard is thinking of money at a time like this? How is $2,000 a reasonable tip?! And why is the mall overrun with parrots that drop grenades?! Dead Rising takes place in bizarro world.
Lucky for Dead Rising, games can get away with bad writing if the gameplay is fun. And it is here, despite the scaled back visuals. The mall is large and there's a lot to do. While there are always survivors that need rescuing, you can also kill some time just running around exploring, trying on new costumes, mixing drinks in a blender, and offing zombies in new and inventive ways. Frank gains experience as he increases his kill count, adding a light RPG element into the mix. There is so much to do, in fact, the original Xbox 360 game became frustrating because it only provided one save file and it forced players to adhere to a strict schedule. Players weren't given enough time to freely roam the mall and it was possible to miss many of the details waiting to be discovered. Here on the Wii, we've been granted multiple save slots, making for a more forgiving experience.
Unfortunately, the game loses momentum near the end and devolves into remedial fetch quests while major characters are killed off with no fanfare. Dead Rising is also a fairly short game, clocking in at less than ten hours.
While scaling back the visuals was an understandable sacrifice in transitioning Dead Rising from the 360 to the Wii, a key feature from the original has also bafflingly gotten the axe: the ability to take pictures. Frank West is a photojournalist. He has come to Willamette to make a record of these bizarre events. Throughout the game, he always has his camera round his neck. And yet, he seems to have forgotten how to use it. Previously, players could take photos at any time and the game would rate them and reward with experience points. The 360 game opened with an interesting scene where Frank had to photograph the town from a helicopter and just what was going on below started to become clear. Chop Till You Drop skips over these sections completely and ignores Frank's profession.
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