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Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop

Critical malling?

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Dead Rising was a game about zombies, but it was also a game about shopping, the game's fierce appeal lying not with the moaning undead loping towards you so much as the shiny new golf club you had carefully selected in order to lamp them. One of those handful of special experiences that emerge early in a new console's lifetime, where the exotic new capabilities of the system are briefly, by themselves, enough to guide development, Capcom's mall-brawling ode to the joy of head injuries gleefully built itself around a simple technological challenge: how many enemies could the developer get on-screen at any single moment, and how many different items could it then offer you to do them all in with?

From that premise emerged a strange blast of brain-splattered whimsy, a panicky comedy with the stylings of a Romero movie and a mission structure that wouldn't be entirely out of place in Crazy Taxi. The conspiracy theory storyline may have been dead on arrival, but the kitsch expanses of the game's open world were more than capable of reanimating the corpse, giving you a playful chunk of action built from a chain of amusing choices: rescue or loot? Strip completely, or dress as Mega Man? Wade in with the frying pan or try your luck with the Telecaster instead? Now, thanks to the Wii, Dead Rising's back again, fuzzier, clunkier, and with fewer features and more parrots than ever before.

Actually, that's not an entirely fair assessment. Built from the same engine as the Wii version of Resident Evil 4, and co-opting that game's over-the-shoulder firing system, Chop Till You Drop sees Dead Rising's beating heart surviving the platform transition relatively intact, if not entirely without trauma. You'll still play as Frank West - an endearingly oafish photojournalist whose name suggests a suave air of Hitchcockian mystery that his lumbering body and hamster-on-steroids face brilliantly contradicts - and you'll still uncover the disappointingly rubbish truth about the zombie outbreak that grips Willamette Mall, while facing off against an undeniably magical range of weirdoes including a paranoid gun-store survivalist and the world's least suitable children's entertainer.

Remember capitalism? If Dead Rising was set in 2009, there would be no unwitting victims in the mall in the first place.

Whatever the game's shortcomings - and it has several - on a very basic level, the Wii still manages to deliver on Capcom's promise of large-scale zombie slaughter. The ranks of undead ambling through Paradise Plaza may be significantly thinner, and they may have contracted the annoying habit of fading into view as you approach seemingly empty areas, but there are still more than enough of them to keep you busy. The game's mission structure remains more or less intact, too, albeit beaten into a far more rigid system of challenges, blending the rescue sub-quests much more tightly with the main narrative, and making a game which occasionally gave you too much freedom to set your own agenda into one which now gives you comparatively little.

While the Wii controls don't add very much, they don't damage Dead Rising either, the A button triggering a melee attack, and a bizarre combination of Z and A allowing you to interact with objects, while pointing the remote aims guns and a shake provides a stronger melee or knocks back attackers. Movement's still awkward, but there's a solid quick-turn option available for when the crowd gets too close, and the camera is as reliable as it ever was.