Capcom are better known for Resident Evil than anything else these days, they cornered the market of zombie-horror better than any other franchise. With Resident Evil 5 heading to the Xbox 360 and Resident Evil 4 still selling on the Gamecube the biggest surprise to 360 owners was the announcement of a new IP.
Dead Rising is a zombie game that focuses on slapstick horror and fresh gameplay compared to the tense exploration, puzzle solving and general twisted creatures of the Resident Evil game series. This owes more than a little nod to the godfather of the zombie genre George.A.Romero and a definite prod towards another dead-slayer in the form of Bruce Campbell's 'Ash' in terms of humour.
Many people were worried (and I was one of them) that Dead Rising would be nothing more than State of Emergency with zombies. I can report after playing the recent demo that the game is nothing of the sort, I couldn't stand State of Emergency but Dead Rising dragged me in and even though the demo doesn't allow you to accomplish a mission objective, it's still shockingly good fun.
Dead Rising promises a twisted story full of conspiracy theories and madcap characters to hook the player in, as you take the part of Frank West, a freelance photojournalist that has 72 hours to cover the story of the lifetime at the Willamette Mall.
We will be getting our hands on the full game prior to release in the UK so expect a thorough review to appear around then. But the demo gives a nice chunk of zombie slaying action and comes packed with a few secrets of its own, there are numerous ways to slaughter the undead and Frank isn't afraid of mixing it up with these shambling monsters at all.
The demo is a timed mission, you have two in-game hours to provide backup to Brad, but don't bother with that because you can't complete it and going anywhere outside of the main mall area triggers one of the game's cut-scenes as a teaser.
Instead you'll want to explore the main mall and try out the various weapons that are on offer, and virtually anything that isn't nailed down. If it has an icon by it can be picked up and used in some way, shape or form. You can turn a humble apple pie into a missile for instance, slapping it on the face of a zombie for that classic 'pie' joke and snapping a quick photo to increase your experience (PP) that will ultimately allow you to raise Frank's attributes and pick up new skills.
If you like killing zombies by the score and completing objectives/side missions then Dead Rising is going to be the game for you, if you want more of a Resident Evil experience then you might want to rent this one and wait for #5 in the series.
Dead Rising has a solid gameplay mechanic so far in the demo although the odd choice for 3rd person gun and photo taking might take some getting used to; you basically have to use the opposite stick to aim the gun or camera. The combat controls themselves are fairly simple, tap X to perform a normal attack, hold X to perform a heavier attack.
With certain weapons holding X down can trigger a variety of amusing special attacks. There are also a number of objects that interact with the environmental features, such as a gas oven and frying pan. Combine the two and you get a heated pan, this can then be used for comedy value.
Hold down X close to a zombie and they should run face-first into the pan, there's a suitably amusing hissing sound and the zombie falls over backwards. If you can switch to your camera (left trigger) quickly enough you can get PPs for a good photo.
You can also mix various ingredients in the mixer and produce concoctions that help, or hinder you. Hint: try Orange Juice + Pie.
The graphics of Dead Rising are solid and they deliver a gore-laden slashfest as Frank struggles to survive against the insane amounts of zombies, the engine never slows down once and delivers hordes of undead just waiting to take a bite out of you, just as we're waiting to take a bite out of the game when it arrives in shops on September the 8th in the UK.
Until then, the demo will have to suffice!