Killing zombies in videogames is as natural as mixing chocolate with peanut butter. In 2006 Capcom capitalized on this by creating what was essentially the videogame adaptation of Dawn of the Dead with their zombie-slaughtering release Dead Rising for the Xbox 360. As we all continue to dream about the possibilities of a sequel, Capcom has returned for an encore presentation of Frank West and his trusty array of weapons. The Wii iteration offers some new enhancements that address some of the issues found in the original game, but it also brings a few hindrances of its own. However, if you have not had a chance to engulf yourself with dismantling zombies there is a ton of fun to be had here.
The premise behind the game is simple and genius, which is why when it released everyone had the same question on their mind; why has no one attempted this type of game before. You assume the role of Frank West, a photographer interested in the recent happenings at the Parkview Mall. Once inside you begin to uncover the mystery behind this plague of zombies, but most importantly you get to bludgeon them with a vast assortment of weapons such as baseball bats, guitars, ladders and even teddy bears. Just about anything you see you can use to take out the undead enemies. There is also a counter that keeps track of how many zombies you have taken out for those obsessed with numbers.
Unlike the title this port is based on the free-roaming aspect of Dead Rising has been all but removed. Instead the game feels more like an action-based thrill ride that takes the ideas from the original game and meshes them with a more traditional style. You will often have to backtrack to the security office to obtain new missions, and the photography portion of the game has been stripped entirely. The missions work the predictable route incorporating loads of escort and locate missions that become tedious early on. There are also a host of boss battles that have you encountering some truly remarkable psychopaths that must be hopped up on PCP as they take an enormous amount of ammo to take down.
The most significant change from the original game though is the ability to have multiple save slots. One of the biggest drawbacks to Dead Rising was that the game almost forced you to start over time and time again to master the flow of the action. With CTYD this is streamlined with both allowing players to save more sporadically and of course with a rationalized mission structure. Most importantly though there is plenty to see and do around the mall, and that is what makes the game such an experience. One of the biggest attractions to the original game was the costumes and weapons scattered about the mall and CTYD is no exception. There are a host of new outfits including an updated version of Bionic Commando from GRIN’s new title and even some new weapons.
Also new to the mix is a collection of new enemies that are introduced as you progress. This changes the pace of the game dramatically as these new enemies do more than simply waddle towards you in large numbers. There are now gun-toting zombies, stun gun undead and even parrots, yes zombie parrots that drop grenades on you from above. While the game was always huge on tongue-in-cheek humor this is almost too much, especially considering that these are some of the most annoying enemies I have ever encountered in a game.
Of course this would not be a Wii game without some motion control and CTYD utilizes a nice mix of classic control and waggle action. You can now use the controller to aim while shooting, which works surprisingly well and makes mowing down multiple foes a breeze. You can also shake the controller to perform any melee weapon’s secondary attack or to shudder off zombies. Melee combat works well because all of Frank’s attacks use an auto-aim function that zeroes in on the closest target, so you are rarely swinging at dead air.
Frank also employs a quick-turn motion that allows him to spin 180 degrees to confront foes attacking from behind. However, he is sans one vital movement that can make the game feel grounded. Frank has lost the ability to jump. This is obviously a design choice to create a sense that the game is actually larger than it really is. There are various invisible walls and barriers that Frank cannot pass while walking. So eliminating his ability to go vertical keeps him at bay, while still giving the sense that the play area is much larger than it really is.
As far as visuals go CTYD is certainly not the prettiest girl at the dance. The obvious downgrade in visuals from the original was expected, but even as a standard Wii title the game lacks visual panache. The frame rate however, is rock solid, which makes up for a lot of the shortcomings in other places. The amount of zombies onscreen is impressive at times, and the cut scenes are now FMVs as opposed to in-game. The sound is still as remarkable though with great effects and a solid soundtrack. The voiceovers don’t fare quite as well, but the writing is unintentionally hilarious, which tends to soften the blow.
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop is a fun romp that fans of action games will enjoy. If you have already visited the town of Willamette there is little reason to return, but if this is your first experience you will not be disappointed. While the omissions are hard to swallow for fans of the original, newcomers are not likely to notice. The Wii iteration is certainly worth checking out for fans of zombie action games, just don’t expect anything revolutionary in the process.