Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop

A great, big festival of incredi-carnage, Dead Rising on the 360 was at the same time a blistering sandbox version of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, and a truly awesome technical showcase for ‘next gen’ hardware. It was an epic, tense, genuinely funny, ludicrously violent action game that featured more (undead) onscreen meatbags than most games manage to dish up in their entire playthrough. And the best thing about it? There were 250 different ways to off ‘em. Yup, that’s right, 250. Regulation weaponry such as guns, katanas, chainsaws and axes were always going to be on the menu when you’re busy ruining zombies – but buckets, toy swords and mannequin arms? Among the first wave of 360 games, Dead Rising was without doubt a genuine standout.

Imagine our delight then, when Capcom announced at E3 that a new version of their processor-hungry megahit was hitting Wii. Taglined – hopefully with a moustache-twiddling sense of irony – Chop Till You Drop, Dead Rising is a direct result of the success of Capcom’s own Resident Evil 4 port. If that hadn’t sold by the bucketload, Dead Rising Wii would still be on the back of a napkin in a sushi bar somewhere. So thanks, RE4. And, erm, thanks again, because one of CTYD’s first pieces of business is to switch perspectives, Leon Kennedy-style. So instead of the user-controlled free-roamer of a camera in the 360 version, the Wii incarnation has a locked-down, over-the-shoulder number, which director Minoru Nakai reckons will give casual gamers that precious ‘in’.

“My brother is a casual gamer,” Nakai told us in a chinwag we had with him, “But he’s the sort of person who… gets nervous about whether he’s good enough to play.” By bringing the camera down like in RE4, Capcom reckon that aiming will be easier and more intuitive… though a small sacrifice had to be made in the process: giganto-chinned photojournalist hero Frank West will no longer be able to take photos – a big part of the 360 version. Still, concessions were always going to have to be made, and while the sheer numbers of zombies onscreen has also been curtailed, Capcom are adamant that the experience of playing will be all but identical and, in some cases, even better.

How so? Two things: firstly, missions have been grouped together in smaller, more manageable chunks, and aren’t anywhere near as time sensitive now. One of the major problems with the 360 version was that until you completed the game, exploration of the mall was essentially discouraged due to the pace at which objectives were delivered on the world’s most annoying transceiver – not so now. Smaller chunks of missions means more time to muck around in Capcom’s awesome sandbox. Which leads onto the second point: a reworked save system.

Perhaps Dead Rising’s biggest problem was its utterly brutal save structure; the idea was to encourage you to go back and play through parts you’d just finished in order to raise your stats and be better prepared for what was to come. What actually happened was that players keen to see more of the mall and the game itself blazed through and ended up getting completely crucified about a third of the way in because they hadn’t statted up enough early on. Which, infuriatingly, meant that you had to go back to the beginning of the game and start again, thanks to the archaic ‘one save’ system.

So, the remaining question is, how do you actually control Frank on the Wii? Director Minoru Hikai explains: “Basically, you use the Nunchuk to move and the remote to perform actions. You can press the A button to attack with your subweapon, but you can also attack by swinging the remote. That makes the attack stronger but expands the backswing – sort of like regular and heavy punches in a fighting game.” Hikai also revealed that you’ll be able to use the d-pad to cycle through your weapons, while a new aiming reticule will make targeting much easier, too. Oh, and shaking the remote will wave blunt weaponry at any zombies who get too close.

So… excited yet? Well you should be. Because all of this, combined with remote controls, already makes Dead Rising one of the most anticipated games on the Wii.

Sep 5, 2008