Bashing Zombies and Cleansing Ghettos

Apparently, August is a good month for the Xbox 360. Actually, the whole summer has been great come to think of it! 2 games that are hitting shelves this month recently made their way to the Xbox Live Marketplace in demo form. I will admit, I wasn’t overly excited about either of them until I got my hands on the demo offerings last week. Now I can hardly wait to spend a combined $150 on them.

Dead Rising

I love zombies. The idea of the dead rising, eating people and generally pure mayhem amuses me. I love me a good zombie movie and am quite the fan of the Resident Evil series. That said, Dead Rising was already in my good books. But it feels like we’ve been fed screenshots and video footage for months on end. I grew tired of hearing about DR quite some time ago. When the demo was released, I queued it up and let it sit for a good 24 hours before first playing. When the time came, I was nearly in tears with laughter! This game is a fucking riot! You play this photographer who finds himself in a mall overrun by zombies. You’re equipped with a camera and anything else you can get your hands on. From standard weapons like guns and knives to a massive sledge hammer, police billy clubs, baseball bats, golf clubs, shopping carts, cash registers, plants, chairs, CDs, plates, water guns, frisbees, etc. The mall becomes your playground and you find yourself running from store to store picking up everything with a little red circle (indicates you can pick it up) and smashing endless zombies until you’re surrounded by bloodied bodies. It’s quite amusing, to say the least!

Be sure to check out this guide over at Joystiq of all the fun things you can do in the demo. Of course, there is more to the game than simply smashing zombies – there’s a plot and a mystery that you set out to uncover. The demo also touches on a pretty cool skills building model where you “rank up” by reading instructional magazines and books.

Dead Rising is released tomorrow, August 8 in the US. Some of the local Canadian retailers are showing an August 22 release date – hope that’s not the case.

Dead Rising - Saints Row

Saints Row

Saints Row is a GTA-inspired action game from THQ.

Turned off? Yeah, I was too. That, and hearing some of the developers talk about the game at this past E3. Just semed like another third person thug-type game full of shooting, stealing, “bitches and hos” and the like. And it most definitely is. But, despite being a GTA clone, there is vast improvement over the last 3 GTA games. Things that always irritated me about GTA have been cleaned up and streamlined to make them actually functional in Saints Row. The combat system for one is vastly surperior. Shooting a gun is actually fun! Running and jumping isn’t tedious and hand-to-hand combat is awesome! The triggers control your arms independently while the left shoulder button makes your character kick/stomp. So if your rival is blocking with both hands, give him a good hoof in the knee, followed by a right hook then stomp his ass! I laughed pretty hard the first time I did this.

One huge advantage Saints Row has over GTA is the ability to customize your character. The customization engine seems very robust while only about 70% of the features were unlocked in the demo. And the character models themselves look great.

And to take that age-old scenario of working your way up the thug ladder and put a spin on it – Saints Row is all about cleaning up the streets and taking out the rival gangs to make The Row safer. One of the first missions you do in the demo requires you to steal “hos” from a rival pimp and bring them back to a pimptrepreneur who’s just starting up on the block. I can’t say I was very convinced that this concept played a big role in the initial planning stages, but it is there. We’ll have to see how it pans out in the full game.

Saints Row is set to be released August 29 in North America.

I’ve noticed lots of people on my friends list playing the 2 demos – what do you guys think of these up-coming games based on the demo experience?