Developed by Capcom Production Studio 1
Published by Capcom
*Please Note: This Review is of the PlayStation 4 Version*
Dead Rising follows freelance photojournalist; Frank West who gets a tip about the scoop of a lifetime after a supposed riot breaks out in the small town of Willamette, Colorado. Upon getting dropped off on the helipad of the local shopping mall; Frank is quick to realize that it doesn’t sound like any rioting is going on and he finds out that the town has instead been hit by an infection that has turned the entire population of the town into the undead. After an unfortunate incident results in the zombies getting into the mall, Frank must team up with 2 undercover FBI agents to figure out what is going on and get out of the town alive and with the news scoop that will put him on the map.
All in all, Dead Rising has a pretty interesting story for a zombie game with a good balance of comedy and horror.
Dead Rising is a survival horror title unlike any previous ones I encountered. Now I should state this is not my first time playing the game and the port of Dead Rising has been done with a great level of care since during my entire time playing I never encountered any glitches or technical issues. I feel like the best way to describe Dead Rising is as a Zombie Survival Simulator with added humor. The game features many interesting gameplay elements with one in particular being the Photography feature which allows you to take pictures of the zombies, psychopaths and more in the area and the game then ranks you with a score based on genres (Horror, Erotic, Comedy, Etc…) which then translates into experience. This is a really fun feature however the camera can sometimes be a bit awkward to use since it doesn’t always pick up everything in sight and it can become even worse when poses for missions (I’m looking at you Kent missions) don’t register when they’re supposed to, causing frustration.
Another aspect that I loved about this game is the fact that you can literally use pretty much everything as a weapon in order to survive the onslaught of the undead aswell as being able to get dressed into any clothes on offer in the mall which helps to add an extra feeling of realism to the game since it shows that the apocalypse can truly allow you to do anything you like since nobody is there to stop you while also making it so that the weapons (items through the mall) break after heavy usage adding to the realism and making the game harder. The game also features something similar to the mixing of herbs from Resident Evil in the drink mixers where you can combine the different foods and drinks you find throughout the mall into a blender to create drinks with different effects such as Quickstep, Zombait (Which draws Zombies to you) and Spit Fire. There is just one thing that I will give this game some criticism about however which is of course, the infamous timer. The timer is an interesting concept for a zombie game however this is also the games biggest downfall not for the fact that it ends the game unless you achieve certain things through the playthrough but rather the fact that it makes you want to rush the missions just to be able to explore the mall of Willamette and even to find secret unmarked events.
All in all, Dead Rising has interesting gameplay with very few bad things to say about it.
In terms of the sound section of Dead Rising, I found it to be highly enjoyable for multiple reasons. In terms of the soundtrack, the music used was composed perfectly with the music feeling fun yet at times threatening and it really made it authentic in the fact it helped to make the game feel like a horror movie at times (sometimes a B-movie style horror) with a few rock songs thrown in for good measure. The sound effects were perfectly used aswell with the zombie groans being heard from a distance adding to the element of atmosphere aswell as all the weapons sounding authentic for if they were to hit (say a body) and even the blood splatter sounds were great.
The real stand out point (and sometimes weakness) is the voice acting which is definitely superb at many great times and the voice actors really helped to achieve the sense that this is a B-movie style experience similar to how Resident Evil started out with better voice acting. The cast features many newcomers to the voice acting scene including Laura Napoli who gives a brilliant performance as Jessica McCarney however the game does feature many experienced voice actors including TJ Storm (Resident Evil 5), Steve Blum (Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3) & Kim Mai Guest (Metal Gear Solid) who also stand out among the poorer voice acting however the stand out performance of the game goes to TJ Rotolo who plays Frank West perfectly portraying him more as just the right element of B-Movie material and yet also a perfect depiction of the common every man in a zombie apocalypse.
All in all, apart from a little bit of poorer voice acting compared to some; the sound section in Dead Rising is pretty much perfect to me.
The visuals in Dead Rising is where the title is truly let down. The game has some decent visuals in this port given the upscaling of the original graphics from the Xbox 360 version however until Dead Rising 3 launched in 2013; Dead Rising was never really known for being a franchise with really good visuals. The cutscenes look great but at times you can also see exactly how dated the visuals look in them and at times when I was wandering through the game I’d notice some parts of the character models and world seemed slightly jagged and out of place.
One thing I can easily note on what I like however is the appearance of the actual world itself of the mall and the outside parking area along with it. The reason I liked it so much is because to me, it felt like it was designed perfectly as a love letter to the old Romero zombie flicks (in particular; Dawn of the Dead) while in the cutscenes from the game; the outside of the Willamette mall actually bares a very strong resemblance to the mall seen in the remake of Dawn of the Dead.
In terms of visuals they are certainly not the greatest but they are good enough to tell the story that Dead Rising sets out to get across.
In terms of lasting appeal; Dead Rising has plenty to satisfy it’s gamers with the campaign (72 hour mode) which takes up quite a lot of time and then you can add in the other modes such as infinity mode which basically gets rid of the timer and allows the player to roam the huge sandbox with only one task; to keep Frank alive as long as possible. The game also has many missions to complete through the story with some hidden missions thrown in for good measure. In addition to this, you can also get unlockable weapons and costumes through completing challenges in the game (One costume is based on Mega Man). As with most games these days aswell, the game does feature trophies/achievements for the hunters out there and honestly Dead Rising is just so fun anyway that more or likely you will still find yourself returning to the game every now and then just for some zombie killing fun.
All in all, I’d say Dead Rising has easily been one of the better ports of 2016 and shows exactly why the series has become one of the more cherished Capcom franchises over the past 10 years. The story is a fun B-Movie style escapade that is enjoyable, threatening and humorous. The gameplay is extremely fun and introduced many new gameplay mechanics to the Survival Horror genre and was a difficult zombie game that at times could actually have some real horror to it. The sound in Dead Rising and the replay value are both incredible however it is the visuals that truly let this game down however I do still love the blatant love letter feel to Dawn of the Dead. Personally, I highly recommend this title and definitely this port. (On a personal note, I was still slightly disappointed at the lack of the zombie animals from Chop Till You Drop).
Score = 8/10
- Story is the perfect combination of Comedy and Horror
- Gameplay is perfect survival horror and introduced new mechanics
- The soundtrack is really good
- Some of the voice acting is brilliant (in particular TJ Rotolo & Laura Napoli)
- Visual love letter to Dawn of the Dead
- Plenty of replay value
- The Timer mechanic didn’t give you enough time to really explore what the game has to offer
- The Photography gameplay was annoying at times and didn’t always pick things up
- Some of the voice acting was poor
- Visuals are dated
Dead Rising is available now for PlayStation 4 & Xbox One digitally (By itself or in a bundle) and is also available for Xbox 360 & PC. Thanks go out to Capcom for supplying the game and assets used in this review. Be sure to let me know what you thought of the review in the comments section below and be sure to stay tuned to UGNN for all your gaming news and reviews and remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Review by Matthew McNamee