NEWS - Monday, April 17, 2006

Dead Still Rising

Capcom recently stopped by to show off how Dead Rising, the upcoming zombie splatter-fest, is progressing. Since seeing the game at the company’sLas Vegas event and at Microsoft’s Spring Showcase in San Francisco, little has changed. As photojournalist Frank West, you’ve got 72 hours to get out of a zombie infested mall alive. How you go about escaping is up to you, as there are multiple side and main story missions to complete. However, the 72 hours could be up before you complete all or any of them, leading to a range of possible endings. It’s a game that encourages multiple play-throughs, open-ended exploration, and of course, plenty of zombie-related slaughtering. It should be noted that the game doesn’t actually take 72 hours to finish. How long you can expect the game to last is, however, a murky issue. We’ve previously been told that if you stood in a closet for the whole time limit, it would take around three or so hours to count down. However, the progression of the game clock is distorted as you complete quests and explore the mall, meaning the actual gameplay time could be extended significantly. When asked, Capcom did not specify a time, only mentioning it varies depending on your actions. Issues of nonspatial continuity aside, Dead Rising looked very similar to what we’d seen before. The game so far has some highly detailed character models, a wide variety of interactive objects, and displays an enormous number of zombies onscreen at once, likely topping the 100 mark. One notable improvement from previous showings was the framerate, which took nosedives far less frequently than in previous builds. We also got a more detailed look at the statistics and skill upgrades available for Frank. Since he’s a photojournalist, Frank carries around a camera. Taking pictures of particularly hilarious or gruesome scenes will net you Prestige Points, Dead Rising’s version of experience points. For instance, taking a picture of a zombie after jamming another zombie’s hand through its mouth triggers an "outtake," which gives you more PPs than if you were to simply snap a photo of a single zombie. Single zombies still give you PP, though not much, and capturing frames of even larger groups give you much, much more. After enough PP accumulation, Frank levels up. This gives him new skills, of which there are over 20, as well as points to spend on statistical augmentation for better attack, speed, and throw distance, among others. The first skill is a jump kick, an invaluable tool for quickly clearing through hordes of molasses-like undead. Other methods of re-killing we saw were a homing soccer ball, a skateboard that could both bowl over zombies and make a mush of their craniums, a bowling ball that shattered undead kneecaps, a golf club, as well as toddler’s clothing. While the clothing wasn’t really a weapon, it sure did look silly, and was an example of the many types of clothing you can change into on the fly as you explore more of the doomed mall. Though you’re not specifically required to, using these implements of anti-life to shred zombies and progress through the main storyline unlocks areas of the mall otherwise inaccessible. Dead Rising’s story plays out through eight main "cases," each of which are broken up into several subsections. There’s also a final case, called The Truth, which, assuming you’re good enough to make it there, gives you the information you’ve been searching for when completed. Missions for each Case are developed through cutscenes that depict a surprisingly detailed storyline. Though we don’t really know many details yet, the plot is definitely more substantial than, "Hey, there are zombies in the mall. Let’s kill them and stuff." You’ll also get side missions, or "scoops" as they’re called, from the mall janitor. He calls them in through your walkie-talkie, and often involve battling your way to a trapped innocent or reuniting a few after the zombie tore them apart. We got a brief glimpse of this near the game’s start, where Frank reunited NPCs Jeff and Natalie, and gained PPs for bringing them back to a safe zone. Still scheduled as a second-quarter release, Dead Rising is looking like one of the more unique titles to come out on the Xbox 360. Offering a mix of simple RPG elements with large-scale, mindless killing, it could be a refreshing experience. Capcom mentioned it was shooting for 60 frames-per-second with the final build, but that still seems a little ways off with the framerate issues that have cropped up the last few times we’ve seen the game. We’ll have more on this skull-splattering title as soon as we can.

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