Review: Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop (Wii)

The game where you can grab anything... and hit a zombie with it.

It seems that game developers are under the increasing expectation of the great zombie invasion- surely it's only now a matter of time. To help prepare you for the certain apocalypse Capcom decided to bring 2006's Dead Rising to the Wii in the form of Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop.

Essentially this is a port, or a "retelling" of the original game running on Capcom's Resident Evil 4 game engine. If you don't know anything about the Xbox 360 version, it was famed for it's impressive graphics and huge body count- over 400 zombies on-screen at once.

With this in mind, there was always going to be compromises made on Wii- there is simply no way Nintendo's console could compete with the original. But how has this affected the overall product? quite a lot actually.

Dead Rising centres around a photojournalist called Frank West, who, after a tip off, decides to visit a small town called Willamette. He arrives on the roof of Parkview Mall only to find that its front door brimming with hordes of zombies, and he'll need survive the next 72 hours left before his helicopter ride comes back.

Thankfully not everyone inside the mall is doing the zombie shuffle. Frank soon makes some friends in the form Brad and Jessie- two Homeland Security agents searching for a Dr. Barnaby- and Otis the mall Janitor. Our good friend Otis provides the bread and butter for the game- the missions. The name of the game here is zombie slaying: you'll be assigned various missions by Otis to leave the security room (the hub level) and venture out into the mall to save people trapped in the different sections of the mall.

It's up to you to use whatever (and we mean whatever) you find around the mall to kick some zombie ass, obviously this includes the usual style handguns, shotguns and rifles but it also means pretty much any other object in the mall is also a viable weapon. Picking up a cash register and throwing it at a crowd of the undead goes down nicely. Ka-ching $$$!

You control Frank using the Analogue Stick; holding (B) enters the over-shoulder aiming mode (similar to Resident Evil 4) with (A) firing/throwing your active weapon. You can also use your current hand weapon whilst walking around, for example running up to a zombie hitting (A) could slash them with your knife. It can feel slightly awkward to begin with, but once you get to grips with it you'll be taking down hordes of zombies in no time.

A really strange thing about the control scheme is the action button: performing actions such as talking, pressing lift buttons, opening doors etc are all triggered using a (Z) + (A) combo - we have no idea who thought that would be a useful combination.

Fans of the original will understand the scope of the number of weapons on-hand in Dead Rising, you can pretty much pick up anything and hit a zombie with it- easily one of the biggest highlights of the game. All sorts of items can be used, such as golf clubs, baseball bats, bottles of wine, footballs, chainsaws to name but a few. You can even use objects such as bikes, skateboards, shopping trolleys and, wait for it, lawn mowers to trim down the zombie populous.

Enemies include the usual slow, stupid cannon fodder of zombies, but you'll also find other creatures such as the incredibly irritating dogs and parrots. Naturally dropping these bad guys will earn you more ammo- well, maybe not the parrots- and food/health items. Unlike Resident Evil, you shouldn't run out of ammo in Dead Rising.

The main game story is set between the time Frank arrives at the mall and his ride home, a rescue helicopter. Gameplay is split into missions which usually involve you running out into the mall to save some civilians or running into the mall to take down some crazed psychopath like the hilariously creepy chainsaw juggling mall clown!

Completing missions earn you money and also open up new "Case Files"- cut scenes which are used to convey the backstory development. There are a total of 8 case files with 2-4 sections in each, which slowly reveal more and more about the reasons behind the zombie invasion.

Essentially the game feels quite like Resident Evil, however it has a very different atmosphere- it's a lot more relaxed, a lot more comical and to be honest, a lot more "fun". From the initial title screen to the equip item menu its quite clear the game was developed using the RE 4 engine.

Sadly this also might also be the cause of the game's major downside, the visuals. Dead Rising suffers badly from over-simplistic graphics and empty environments- no doubt down to the fact it is essentially running on a Gamecube engine. Unlike the original, this version can only have a limited number of zombies on screen at once and has an awful draw distance problem: looking ahead you think the path is clear but as you reach the area a group of zombies will appear out of nowhere. Couple this with the rather extreme re-spawn system and it all gets quite frustrating.

We'd almost suspect that Capcom have cut corners using the Resident Evil 4 engine for this game, we've seen a lot better software on Wii than what Dead Rising has to offer - Sorry Capcom but you can't purely put the blame on Wii's hardware for this one.

Capcom perhaps had a difficult decision when deciding to bring Dead Rising to Wii- it seems everything good about the original has been trimmed down, which has a huge impact on the game. It does, however, retain some of the nice features, such as the ability to change clothes as you visit different clothes stores around the mall, but ultimately it's still years behind the original.

Conclusion

It's nice that Capcom have at least tried to bring the essence of Dead Rising to Wii- after all the original was a commercial success on the 360. Sadly, this "Wii-telling" has had to suffer quite badly in the visual department, which effected the game substantially- reducing its lasting appeal even further. In its defence, the Wii controls work well: on the most part, and for a while at least, Dead Rising IS fun to play - but it simply doesn't last.