Dead Rising

The whole thing works wickedly well. It's not just because walking through an incredibly detailed mall, with over 100 stores, while slicing and dicing zombies is purely entertaining. It's the game's tongue-in-cheek tone. The human survivors of the zombie disaster are pretty much nuts. This includes a supermarket manager who proudly displays the corpse of a shoplifter in his cart, and the group of guys just driving around in a jeep, firing machine guns into the hordes of zombies overrunning the mall's courtyard.

And then there's the exaggerated way Frank gobbles any food he might find. It replenishes his health to tear into a bag of chips with his teeth, you see. Or the fact that you can line up a shot with a hockey puck lifted from the sporting goods store and take out a zombie from a distance. The zombies may be stupid and shuffling, but dismembering them in imaginative and varied ways, or even simply trying to navigate through the hordes, makes for frantic fun.

The developers are aware that you're going to miss out on helping survivors and taking down the optional crazed bosses - never zombies, just those people pushed over the edge by the insanity - roaming the mall, and generally just screw around (and screw up) the first time you play the game. That's why it's so packed with optional content. When you play again, you'll be able to uncover the secrets, pump up your Prestige Points and turn Frank from a down-on-his-luck loser into a star reporter, discovering the reason for the zombie outbreak along the way.

But none of that matters, really. The first time you grab a parasol from the food court and hold it in front of Frank like a shield, barreling through a hallway completely crawling with zombies, you'll see. The first time you grab a stack of plates and throw them like discuses, beheading walking corpses, you'll know. This is the kind of game where you make your own fun, as much of it as you want. Think of it as revenge for last year's Holiday shopping season.