Dead Rising: Chop Till You DropdislikeBBFC18 Developer Capcom Publisher Capcom Genre Action Platform Nintendo Wii Release 27th Feb 2009 When Capcom announced a new Dead Rising, many sure weren't expecting just what Capcom had planned. Dead Rising on the Xbox 360 was a phenomenal hit because of it's small but sweet sandbox approach to zombie-survival-horror. Sure, it was more an action game than survival horror and more comedic than scary, but it was these charms which really made the game so popular. No one expected this game to be as good as the Xbox 360 version of the game, myself included. So I went into the game not burdened with the thought of it's expectations and looked at the game purely on a casual/fun basis.

Frank finds his old cell mate again
Dead Rising takes place in a small American town in the middle of Nowhere U.S.A; Willamette. Photojournalist Frank West has learnt that the military is blockading the town and ensuring no one enters or leaves Willamette after the town has been put under immediate quarantine. Defying the wishes of the military, Frank enters Willamette to snag some snaps and perhaps get on ground level, cover some wars and see what's going on. Here he meets two federal agents; Jesse and Brad who are looking for an elderly man and then there's Otis; a janitor for the Willamette Park View Mall which Frank and the others are now holding down from the zombie hoard surrounding them. Story isn't bad, funnily enough. Sure, you have some utterly ridiculous scenarios where there are screaming shop keepers, insane clowns wielding mini-chainsaws and a weird cult suddenly springing up out of no where but it keeps players entertained. Story in the game is told through pre-rendered cutscenes from the Xbox 360 version of the game and through silent screen text.

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.

We are here today to moarn the passing of Massacre the Clown...
Shooting in the game is a slow process and can seem like forever to raise your gun and aim at a zombie that's coming towards you. To shoot, you have to hold down the B Button on the Wii Remote and then point the Wii Remote at the screen and finally then press the A button to shoot. You can turn around in a 360 degree motion by using the analogue stick on the Nunchuck but if you ever need to look behind you for whatever reason, it's best to clear a path ahead of you, walk there, turn around and aim back. Chances are, you'll have your scalp chewed on by a zombie before you're able to rotate 180 degrees. One big problem with shooting is the reloading aspect. The HUD gives you no indication that you're low on ammo either before you need to reload or when you're completely out of ammo. This is frustrating because when you're just shooting away at zombies, you'll often not glance at the relatively small number next to the gun icon on the HUD in the top-corner unless needed, so concentrating on the action will mean you're not paying attention to the HUD. It would have been nice if the text had dimmed or turned red when ammo was low or a reload was soon coming up. Reloads wouldn't be half as bad if they didn't take so long in themselves either.

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.

You'd think at least one of them would be in half by now
Killing enemies gives you PP (explained later) and makes them drop items like in Resident Evil 4; blue item drops are money, red item drops are ammo, green item drops are healing supplements usable on yourself or survivors from the inventory. You no longer require to press a button to pick up the items, instead just walking over them picks up items, except for healing items which do need the action buttons (A + Z buttons together) pressed to pick them up. You'll often find ammo for weapons you don't currently have. Good for item stocks in the future, bad for overall ammo stocks for weapons you currently have. Healing items, weapons and ammo are all found in the - (minus) button menu which has a more Resident Evil 2-like inventory screen with blocks where one item represents one block. Oddly enough though, you can pick up multiple items of the same type and they're grouped together. So you can carry several Queen Bee items (which instantly kill zombies in a radius around the death of the queen) regardless of the amount of free spaces in your inventory. Yet, guns and ammo also take up spaces in your inventory and cannot be dropped. Money is used later in the game to buy new weapons, increase capacity to hold ammo or books to learn new techniques.

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.

More suggestive commands
Visuals in the game are quite good for the Wii, the game does look rather muddy and dark (another left over of Resident Evil 4). However, the game is presented very well. Large, wide open areas of the mall can be explored with no frame rate dropping, meaning that it's very smooth. There are several options for blood and gore in the game, by default it's at "Tomato Ketchup packets exploding when the zombie hits the ground" and can be turned up to "Kill Bill-like blood squirting from the neck". The lack of overall zombies on screen does make the game look more barren (however, as already said it's for the best with the setup of the game), and draw distance of zombies leads to some unusual glitches like zooming with the sniper rifle only to find nearby zombies have disappeared on exit of the aiming mode. Audio in the game is very good, much like the 360 version it offers realistic portrayal of shopping mall music set to some interested portrayal of zombies yet is let down a bit by the weirdest sounding weapons, you'll never quite hear a shotgun as it sounds in Dead Rising.

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.