With high profile games like Left 4 Dead and the upcoming Resident Evil 5, along with a few other zombie-themed games out there, zombies are the “it” thing right now. I love the ideas behind a zombie game. It most often is like a zombie movie. There’s the basic infection, the unsuspecting people trying to survive, the negligence of rational thought, and, of course, as many bloody brain splattering instances you can handle. Dead Rising on the Xbox 360, near the consoles beginning was all of these things inside a mall, a la Dawn of the Dead.
The original Dead Rising was so intriguing and fun that it should be no surprise that the game was going to eventually receive a port to another system or a sequel. Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop on the Wii is this port. I know what most are saying, “There’s no way it is fun on the Wii. Especially with the scaled back performance of the system!” Admittedly, I initially thought the exact same thing before I got the chance to spend some time with the game.
The story is the same. After all, why mess with the cheesy plot and over-the-top acting that, to me, made the original enjoyable. Frank West, the game’s hero, is a freelance photojournalist who receives a tip about some heavy things going on in Willamette, Colorado. Once he gets there, he sees everything from military road blocks, mass hysteria, and zombies attacking people in various gruesome ways. Like any good photojournalist, Frank is “dropped” off at the mall so he can get a closer look at the action in the town. He quickly discovers that the mall might not have been the best choice, considering it quickly becomes overrun with the undead.
As the game progresses into the depths of the storyline, you quickly realize it is meant as more of a social commentary than just the zombie slaughter you’d expect. Just like most zombie films, except those that have zero plot, the human race is savage, brutal, and all about individual survival. Dead Rising exemplifies this by the boss battles. None are actual zombies, they are psychopathic humans that more often than not seem to get a thrill out of how much they can screw things up. It works well on this level, because how would you act during the zombie apocalypse? It’s that one question that drives the story past the zero-plot horror games/films into a finely-tuned social commentary.
If you played the original, the first thing you will notice with the Wii version is the graphics. Of course, as one should expect, things are scaled back, but not to the point were everything looks abysmal. You may miss the refined features of the characters, but it is never too daunting of a task to look at the screen while you play. The other thing you will notice graphically is the number of zombies on the screen. While it doesn’t reach the same capacity of the original, it never feels like a PG rated zombie flick. Though, you might be able to reach that rating if you turned off the blood. But, if you are playing a zombie game, you are probably looking for the shots of brain matter and the like to spray all over the environment.
The gameplay feels a little reduced as well. Instead of the sandbox feel, things are more focused via mission-driven segments. You still have the capability to bust into miscellaneous rooms throughout the mall, but now things are more linear than before. Aside from the boss battles, some may find this version of the game a little on the easy side. One major reason for this is due to the highly-focused missions. The only hindrance to the missions is the navigational system. It’s like looking at a compass while standing on the North Pole, at times; spinning wildly out of control and giving you absolutely no bearing. You may even find yourself stopping the action to check the map on the pause screen just so you know where you are going.
One feature added to the Wii version of the game is the amount of save locations and multiple save slots. Some will find this feature to be just what they wanted. Since you can save after each mission, it reduces the tension of trying to get back to the save location. The same aspect will be cumbersome to some players, since it does remove the necessity of taking precautions, which is a more believable aspect to surviving the zombie apocalypse. Another thing that makes this version seem easy is the insane amount of health replenishing items. So, if you felt that the original was too daunting with the lack of health items, this one makes up for that.
The Wii controls all respond nicely, using the same basic Resident Evil 4 approach with the pointer and A button as your primary attack function. It delivers consistent pleasure while bashing zombies’ faces in with a guitar or any of the other various items you can use in the game. If you require “waggle” in your Wii titles, this one will not disappoint. You will find yourself waggling your little heart out when a zombie attacks you. The only complaint I really have with the controls is more personal preference than anything else. In order to pick up an item, talk to people, or open doors, you have to press both the Z and A buttons together. This is actually a good feature unless, of course, you are in the thick of zombies and you drop your last weapon on accident, and then you have to race and press both buttons to ensure you pick it back up. Over time, it does become simpler to use that feature, but in the beginning you’ll be glad you have the wrist strap on your Wii Remote.
As I pointed out earlier, the voice acting is over-the-top and a bit dry at times. It all works perfectly for this genre. I mean, who wants a zombie game with plausible voice acting? It adds to the fun in my opinion. Nothing is better than having the tension of a social commentary broken apart by someone delivering it in either a Ben Stein monologue or an English dubbed anime fashion. The sounds effects for the brash beatings you will deliver to the zombies are classic to say the least. My favorite weapon is the guitar, if for no other reason, than you can almost compose a riff by bashing a zombie.
Anyone could throw this title away as an attempt to continue cashing in on the Dead Rising name. They would be wrong to do so. Admittedly, this is not the same feat the original was. Nonetheless, it does function as a great, ten hour zombie killing spree. This may not be a title for players who experienced it the first time around. However, it is great for those looking for zombie genocide on the Wii.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.6 Graphics
Not as refined as they were on the Xbox 360, but definitely still enjoyable by most Wii game standards. 3.4 Control
Surprisingly well done, with the inclusion of a pointer system and waggle. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sounds are the same as they were before. Right down to the “classic” voice acting that makes these survival horror games wonderful. 3.3
It may not be on the same level as the original, but it holds its own among other Wii titles. Admittedly, this one is for newcomers instead of those already blood-soaked from the original.
3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.