Dead Rising is Not What You’re Expecting

I’ve had the game for about a week and a half now and just finished the 72 Hour mode. It took quite a bit longer than I expected and without giving anything away, there’s still lots of game left. I’ve really enjoyed playing it thus far, and considering I wasn’t even sure if I was going to play it again after my initial sit-down, this is quite a feat. So how did my experience get turned around as it did? Let me first explain a little about what Dead Rising is and is not…

First of all, I’m not really sure what I was expecting, nor am I sure what you’re expecting. Whatever the case may be, I’m pretty certain no one was expecting it to play out as it does. The first thing anyone who plays this game should be told – is that you are meant to play it through more than once. If someone told me that from the get-go, the first few hours would have been much more enjoyable.

Another super important point is the save system. It sucks. I’ve heard some rave about it, calling it ingenious. It is nothing of the sort. Anyone who develops a game that can lead gamers to a dead end after hours of play only to start over from the very beginning should be flogged on a daily basis for the rest of their days. There is one save spot and you can only save your progress in the security room (your safe house) and public washrooms. And occasionally later on in the game, you are prompted to save after something major happens. But in just about every case, you’re standing in the security room when it happens. A word of caution – watch your time and plan your saves wisely.

Now, to set the stage – you play a photo journalist named Frank. In the opening scene, Frank gets dropped off on the roof of a zombie infested mall by helicopter and told his ride will return in 72 hours to pick him up. It doesn’t take you long to wrangle up some allies and start unravelling the great mystery, but it’s how things play out that’s sort of bizarre. There’s 8 main case files that you have to complete at certain times over the 4 days in order to be on the helipad at noon when your ride is set to return.

One of the people you come across is a guy named Otis. If you’ve played the game, you’re no doubt cringing right now. You will learn to loathe Otis. You see, Otis has nothing to do but watch the security cameras and call you on the transceiver whenever he spots someone. Which just so happens to be when you walk through every other door, or when you’re fending off hordes of zombies or trying to get back to the security room with a survivor before they get their face chewed off or fighting a boss or… well, you get the picture. He doesn’t leave you alone, ever! The problem here, is that the first time you play the game, you should really be focusing on the main case files and the odd side mission if time permits. There just isn’t time for much else. To make matters worse, there’s no way to ignore Otis. If you pick up and have to end the call to engage in some fisticuffs, Otis will call back in a huff bitching you out for hanging up on him. And if you just don’t answer, he simply keeps calling until you do. Fucking guy! But the final straw that will bring you close to the brink of insanity is the ridiculously tiny text captions you have to read. HDTV users shouldn’t have much to complain about here. But on my 27″ Sony Trinitron using the Component video cable, they’re still very hard to read. So, to sum it up – while you’re trying to play through the main case files, you have a dude calling you every couple minutes with mostly irrelevant information that you can’t ignore and appears as teenie-tiny text that will no doubt induce a few headaches from squinting.

Basically, if you understand that you will be playing the game through again, make sure you’re always on schedule as far as the main case files go and can learn to live with Otis, you’ll have a good experience with Dead Rising. It is tough and I dropped the f-bomb more times than Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction. But there’s lots of fun to be had here and the replay value of this single player game is surprisingly high.

Now, I’m onto Overtime mode and trying to score me the remaining 500 points.