Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop Developer Capcom Publisher Capcom Genre Action Platform Nintendo Wii Release 27th Feb 2009
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop's gameplay is a major let-down, really. The game is based on the Resident Evil 4 Wii Engine, which many people found comfort in when the game was announced. Their comfort will be short lived in the game, as it's control scheme is utterly inappropriate for the type of game Dead Rising is. You see, not an awful lot of the game has been altered other than a graphical over-haul and a simplified Heads Up Display (HUD, used to display life, counters, timers, etc). When you start to get into the zombie-infested Mall itself, surrounded by zombies, you're suddenly realising why the game doesn't have so many on-screen zombies as there are in the 360 version. Because you're at a disadvantage over the Xbox 360 version. For reasons unknown, parts of the mall are roped off and impassable by the player, the only thing it does is make players take convoluted paths to where they need to go perhaps in an attempt to flesh out gameplay time.
Walking around isn't a huge problem for the game, players of the Xbox 360 version will miss being able to wade through crowds of zombies and nudge them slightly, leaving you able to pass through unharmed unless one reaches out for you. Trying to wade through any crowd in the Wii version will get yourself grabbed. Fortunately, unless you mess up the whole shake-the-Wii-Remote-to-free-yourself quick time event-like feature, you wont loose any health. There are still an abundance of items to utilise in the game like Parasols which can knock over great masses of zombies at once, shopping trolleys which are a sort-of-invisible run ability and the lawnmower. The whole idea of picking items off store shelves and flinging them at enemies is gone, but there are still the core items for players to use; guitars, golf clubs, chainsaws, even cartons of liquid to throw at enemies. Sadly, such items aren't as easily used in the game. You'll have to equip them to a 'weapon slot', which are accessed by aiming (B button) and using the Wii Remote D-Pad to select them. Items like the guitar or the baseball bat have special Wii Remote gestures but are limited in functionality, swinging the Wii Remote from right to left for instance wont make Frank swing the bat, yet the same gesture from left to right does work. There are other Wii Remote gestures like approaching an injured zombie and thrusting the Wii Remote forward (not the most ergonomic of gestures) to pile-drive the zombie.
Progression in the game is this formula repeated until the very end of the game: Case quest -> Mission -> Mission -> Case quest (repeat). Where as Dead Rising was a sandbox game, Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop is a linear game. There's no longer the option of saving survivors, it's mandatory through "Missions". Letting any survivor die is an instant "Mission Failed" and you'll be forced to retry from a continue point in the mission. Missions wouldn't be all that bad if they didn't have to start from the 'safe house' in the game, a janitor room which it's only exit is to the far-left of the mall, not exactly a central starting point especially since you start and end every mission there meaning long winded trips back and forth with survivors in tow. Guiding survivors can be a bit of a hassle as well. The AI likes to get stuck on things, a lot of survivors are injured and don't walk very fast, meaning you have to protect them which is very difficult since they're always behind you when following and turning around is very slow. Just to ensure survivors are still following you, you have to turn around. It's a horrible mess of controls ill-suited for the type of game Dead Rising is. Missions are also timed and ranked based on zombies killed and time taken.
Some mega-negatives are the fact that the game, despite the hap-handed control scheme, added new and very annoying enemies to the game, such as the Parrot, the Poodle and Jo (big security guard with Tasers). The Poodle for instance can side-step you aiming at it and then jump at you. Of course, when it jumps at you it is then... behind you. Parrots can just swoop in and there's very little you can do about it. All enemies walk around, enabling you to shoot them before they spot you, but finding them before they spot you is a long-winded method and ultimately, just not worth it since you can just run away from them. These enemies do give you PP bonuses (which is used to level up, levelling up just adds the occasional inventory boost, life-up or book-place increases) but considering you'll have at least one of these annoying enemies after you every time you enter a different area (after a loading screen), it's just a huge annoyance. They should have been more a random encounter than a static evil there to haunt you.
In the end, Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop is a fairly passable game in itself. However, I rarely found it entertaining. Resident Evil 4 wasn't just a good game because of it's controls or engine it seems. It also seems that Capcom knew what was wrong with introducing the RE4 Wii engine to an open game like Dead Rising and tried to make the game more linear to compensate. However, what they've made is boring and monotonous and seemingly never ending routine of missions. Unlike the 360 version, there's very little replay value in the game and just getting through the game a first time is a challenge enough let alone wanting to subject myself to another round of horrible design decisions like parrots which are too small to hit efficiently, reload times which I'm sure make up a double figure percentage of your overall gameplay time, the linear, unskippable Missions and no real free-roaming element make the game boring and infuriating. The game overall isn't bad but is surely lacking something. It's worth a play, just don't expect anything amazing.