Update: Now with belated hands-on impressions from E3.
Preview by (Email)
May 16th 2006
Capcom has a hit on their hands, if the crowds that circled the Dead Rising displays like a flock of vultures were any indication. I wanted to get a second play on this new zombie classic on either day two or three of E3, but the shambling hordes of fanboys kept me at bay.
I still managed to get half hour's worth of play time on the first day, along with watching other people smash their way through portions of the two demo selections available. The first begins at the beginning with Frank up in the helicopter snapping pics of the zombie infestation, and takes quite a while before he finally gets down and dirty. Capcom knows most people, like me, wouldn't have the patience for that, so there was an option to start right with the action in an infested mall, striking down the shambling undead with whatever lay at hand while helping out innocent citizens.
Gameplay is fairly simple, allowing you to pick up and carry a half dozen objects at a time, cycled via the bumper buttons, that can either refill your health meter, or cave a zombie's encrusted skull in. Each weapon has a unique attack, from poking with a pool cue to performing a Who impersonation with an electric guitar. You can switch to first person view to toss objects or take pictures, the later rated for everything from gore to erotic content. So if you see a zombie in a negligee, be sure to ask for her best pose before she makes a snack of your brains. Shaking the left thumb stick will break yourself free from her affectionate response.
Anyone who says Dead Rising doesn't look next gen is too fond of bloom lightning. All the models sport detailed textures, even when there's dozens of them crowded around to make you into a little snack. They look even better staggering from a powerful blow as the blood goes flying, or performing open head surgery with a trusty shotgun. Most of all is the appearance of Frank himself, which has plenty of customization just by running through the mall and grabbing any shirt, shorts, or even helmet you fancy. While they're hardly hyper realistic, there's also plenty of detail to the environments; clean and bright in contrast to the horror that's been unleashed.
Before playing it, I thought Dead Rising wasn't worth touching without multiplayer. Now I still think it could benefit from co-op mode, but that isn't going to keep me from picking it up. There's nothing overly complex about the story or gameplay, but there doesn't need to be. It's simple pick up and play experience combined with the wide variety of weapons, outfits, and story-related choices make for zombie-stomping action that'll never get stale.
··· Aaron Drewniak