Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on
Dead Rising is an action-packed romp through a mall full of zombies. If that's not a recipe for a good time then you've never mowed down a group of zombies with an actual lawn mower!
Along with all of the weapons you will also have your choice of clothing for Frank. The game has a number of funny combinations that will have Frank look like he's walking into a disco club in the 1970s, trying to steal your car in Grand Theft Auto III, fit in with nudists, or even team up with Rambo. Heck, if you want to get real creative you can dress Frank up in a pretty dress and have him put a mask on. The mall is perfect for experimenting with Frank's look, and in some ways that's more fun than actually dealing with the survivors.
While it may seem logical to simply run around the mall killing every zombie you see with the same weapon, Dead Rising actually forces you to use a lot of different weapons. Most weapons will only last a few hits before they break and become useless. This means that you will often be searching for a new weapon just so you aren't defenseless. As your inventory increases you will be able to store weapons for later, but there will be a lot of times when you will have to scour your surroundings for something, anything.
When you first start the game Frank won't be very strong or fast. As you complete missions or save your fellow survivors your PP (Prestige Points) meter increases until you gain a level. With each level you gain new abilities (such as wall jumping and body slamming the zombies) attributes. By the time your character has reached the lofty goal of level 50 you'll be practically unstoppable, able to kill zombies in one hit and run faster than ever before.
What sets Dead Rising apart from all the other games that feature similar role-playing elements is the ability to completely start over but keep your current stats. In order to get the most out of Dead Rising you will mostly likely have to start over at least once or twice (or in my case, dozens of times). This means that you will see the early parts of the game many, many times. Thankfully every time you start over you will have new moves, more life, a bigger inventory and a more powerful character. Dead Rising really wants you to start over, which is the type of thing that will frustrate a lot of gamers early on.
Another problem many gamers will have with Dead Rising is the crummy save system, which only allows you one save. There are places in the game for you to save (such as the bathroom, a comfy bench, etc.), but you won't be saving enough to make it work for your advantage. There are a lot of times where you will have to choose between a save point or the experience you just earned ... and sadly most of the time it's just easier to choose the experience. Obviously this is not the case if you save right before a big boss battle, but those are few and far between and most of the time you will die simply because you couldn't get to food in time.
Something else that will surely drive gamers up the wall is the fact that you won't be able to do everything you want to. With only 72 hours (24 game hours equals two real world hours) you are going to have to choose between saving everybody or solving the mystery of Williamette, Colorado. You just don't have time to do both. This gives you a real incentive to go through the game a second time. No matter how many times you've gone through Dead Rising there is usually a good reason to go through it again, even if it's just to earn some of the obscure achievement points Capcom has thrown in the game.
For me these issues aren't deal breakers. The limited saves and constant restarting annoyed me at first, but after awhile I started to understand what Capcom was trying to do with the experience. Playing the early segments numerous times actually allowed me a chance to experiment and try out things I normally wouldn't have done. Instead it was the little things that made me go crazy. For example, early in the game you are given a phone to keep in contact with Otis the mall's janitor. Otis will call you from time to time to tell you where you are, give you leads on where you can find more survivors and suggest where you go next. I'm sorry, did I say "from time to time"? What I meant to say was that Otis will call you non-stop, often at the absolute worst times (like when you're right in the middle of a boss battle or fighting off a huge swarm of zombies). Answering his calls means that you won't be able to attack or defend, which can often put you in a terrible situation. It won't take you long before you never want to hear from Otis again. And really, isn't there a Radio Shack in this mall? Certainly there has to be a store that sells some sort of hands-free device so that you can kill zombies and hear Otis at the same time.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!