360Gems : Dead Rising

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Whether you’re a 360 launch day veteran or a newcomer who picked up the console to play one of the many blockbuster titles that  graced the system over the past 6 months of its shelf life before the XBox One, chances are there are more than a few classic games that slipped under the radar whilst you were diligently beavering away at Halo 3 or Call of Duty.

But don’t panic, as here at Retro Now we’re digging up jewels from the rough to ensure that you can make the most of the somewhat now ageing console and catch up with some of the best titles you’ve missed so far…

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So shut those curtains and turn the sound up… we’d like to introduce you to Dead Rising. For those who haven’t played it (or worse, for those that only played the demo, which failed totally to give a decent taste of the full game) it is ace. For me it represents everything that made Romero’s zombie flicks great: adaptation, survival, holding out a HQ at the highest point possible, and making light of the grim situation whenever possible. The legal situation which Capcom found themselves in because of this more than anything in my mind only confirmed the hallmark of quality they’d managed to stamp on this beast of a game.

What makes Dead Rising special all round is the fact that it nails the genre so perfectly – you begin being terrified of the zombie hordes, mortified at the idea of becoming surrounded and you keep watching your back every time you walk into a shop, constantly double checking that you’ve not got any shambling corpses wandering in behind to see what you’re up to. After a while though you become more powerful, more complacent and you stop watching your back when you wander into shops, you start teasing with the zombies and going out of your way to smash up a crowd you’d have earlier avoided. You start to get cocky on the rescue missions, ploughing a path deeper and deeper into unknown territory…

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Of course as with the original Dawn of the Dead, it’s these lapses of concentration that lead to grim moments – you get complacent, then you get cocky, and then you get eaten. Dead Rising is by no means an easy game, and whilst at first I found my repeated deaths to be frustrating, after a while I began to relish these episodes. It reminded me of my early days playing Fallout 2 repeatedly sending out poor souls to die in the wasteland near Klamath, each of them having a fairly unique story behind their eventual demise, a cautionary tale to remember. Even if good old Frank scrapes through alive there’s always losses from time to time – the pre-written plot isn’t too bad, but it’s the individual experiences you have with the survivors that’ll make up the exciting memories you keep of Dead Rising. One of the incidents that sticks in my mind is the time I decided I had to leave the fat Japanese man to die alone in order to escape with the rest of my posse; Dead Rising constantly puts you on the spot and forces you to weigh up risks and make decisions very quickly and for gaming perfectionists like me it’s a little hard to swallow at first, as there’s no right way to play the game. You can’t save everyone, and if you try to then things will get very messy very quickly. You put yourself first and do what you can to help others; you gear up and take no unnecessary chances as you memorise the locations of shops that stock orange juice and KNIVES.

Another thing that amazes me about Dead Rising is how beautifully the illusion of freedom has been crafted: whilst you can’t go around and pick up any object in the mall you never feel like this is the case- if they had gone the whole hog and pumped it full of real freedom and sexy physics it’d probably not have worked as well, the streamlined options you’re given are just enough to make the mall seem much more malleable than it actually is, if you’ll excuse the pun.

 

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