This is about my fourth attempt at writing something about Dead Rising. You would have been better served if I chronicled my experience in instalments, because my attitudes changed dramatically over the days … but I was too busy playing it.
Overcoming addiction is a good thing. For the last 7 days, I was consumed by Dead Rising. Now it’s out of my system and I can go on living, and writing. I can breathe a little easier knowing that the zombie threat is quashed.
Frank West is a photojournalist who has the bright idea of flying a helicopter into town that has been cordoned off by the national guard.
Joke’s on him, though: the town is infested with zombies! Forced to survive three days in the town’s mall and to figure out where the heckfire the zombies came from, Frank only has the knowledge that he’s covered wars to comfort him.
Dead Rising is difficult. It has an RPG sort of experience system, which means that you start the game at a weakling level one, albeit a level one that can be reasonably expected of a photojournalist with no combat experience.
When the number of zombies killed rises and Frank’s camera captures interesting sights, Frank grows harder, better, stronger, faster.
Taking photos of zombies naturally gives you ideas for smashing in their heads and taking photos of survivors embracing instills an anger for smashing zombies in a man, I suppose, so it’s logical.
Due to the difficulty of starting at that level with a scant five bars of health, the game offers a mechanic that it shares with Breath of Fire IV: each time you die, you can choose to either load your last save or to start the game from the beginning while retaining your experience.
This is a sound theory, as you can render the game unwinnable, but I restarted far too much, and reached level 50 when I was just shy of finishing the cases and achieving the true ending. Once I maxed out my levels, I lost interest – despite the fact that I had not completed the game. The story had not yet been seen through, but I felt that I no longer had anything to work for.
I had gleefully collected survivors for the rewards that I was given, and I relished the challenge. With there being no real reason to embark on that challenge – except for an achievement that will render Frank a “saint” in the eyes of XBox Livers – it just seems an unnecessary hassle.
One may think that a good deed is its own reward but, as it turns out, discovering how to disembowel zombies is more of a reward.
If I were to get a memory card so I could start from scratch, I probably would. As it stands, I don’t feel like playing Dead Rising ever again.
All of that is a pity because, as I was levelling up, I was genuinely enjoying the story. I was intrigued by the mystery up until around the point when I figured the majority of it out for myself. Unlike the survivor saving shenanigans, story oriented missions are forgiving and, if you give yourself enough time and experience, they can be quite simple. A lot of it is a simple matter of beating the clock and figuring out that most people respond negatively to a katana to the face, or a sledgehammer to the face.
It is no secret that Dead Rising boasts an Overtime mode if you complete the game and achieve the “true” (or “ture”, according to one achievement) ending. Problem is that Overtime Mode kind of sucks, as Frank just turns into an angry bastard with whom reasoning is not an option. It’s no longer fun watching him as he battles his totally inconsistent code of morality (he will instantly run to save some survivors in cut scenes, for instance, but in others he will take their plight as a prime photo opportunity), because he simply doesn’t have it. I don’t know if it’s because Frank was in his underpants at the time (long story; don’t ask), but he seemed entirely unreasonable.
More than that, the Overtime Mode objectives are simple fetch quests, the ultimate in artificially lengthening an adventure. Fortunately Willamette Mall, if you play the game right, is logically organised and easy to navigate, despite the illogically low number of public toilets (it makes sense in game terms because they serve as save spots, but still).
Let’s not forget Infinity Mode, that expects you to play for 14 straight hours while constantly keeping up your health, which drains at the rate of 1 block per 100 seconds, not counting attacks on Frank’s person. I checked the official spin on this idea and it reads “for the bored masochists in the audience”. Okay, that’s a lie. I may one day tackle Infinity Mode in the way that my friend Casper suggested: two TVs, one with Infinity Mode, the other with Gilmore Girls.
Lauren Graham versus the zombies: who takes it?
Dead Rising: technically a six hour adventure. If not, it will be all you breathe for a week. Be warned, though: when you come down, you come down hard.