Rise and shine. It seems like any other morning. The bedroom curtains yawn with a deep exhale of daylight as you rise among the long shadows. It's so peaceful - more than you can ever remember. No trilling of motors on the road outside. No neighbours' footsteps from the room upstairs. No birdsong.
You peer through the window, unfurling pavement after pavement of shambling, burbling figures. ZOMBIES! Panicked thoughts rush through your head, effortlessly keeping pace with the adrenaline. Will you stay put and try to hold out? Are your friends and family in danger? Is this your chance to kill without guilt? It's a fathomless dilemma... The REALLY scary thing about zombies isn't that they'll eat your flesh, it's what kind of person they'll turn you into.
Dead Rising Producer Keiji Inafune has had big success in the past with Megaman and Onimusha, and Dead Rising is another title that hits all the right notes. It's a game where you make all the choices - where to go, who to save, how to survive. You have almost free reign to explore the zombie infested Willamette Mall and 72 hours to do it. It's a gorgeous and fully interactive game world ripped straight out of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Just like that movie, the characters in Dead Rising choose to take refuge in the best place to find food and weapons.
There are over 120 stores in the Willamette Parkview Mall, each one selling unique household items that are surprisingly effective for eradicating zombies. Every piece of hardware has a different strength and weakness, and some can even be used in a variety of ways - a bowling ball makes a great bludgeoning device, but it can also be bowled to strike down entire rows of zombies. A stack of kitchen plates might not look that powerful, but an experienced hurler will be able to fling them like a discus, taking zombies' heads clean off.
Weapons range from the conventional, such as shotguns, machineguns and antique swords to the downright comical, including custard pies, cuddly toys, handbags and lawnmowers. Impressively, there are over 260 items to pick up and use as weapons. That's more than you'll ever find in just one play through. But the most important thing is that most of them are really funny to use, especially if you have a taste for outrageous gore. You'll almost feel sorry for the zombies as you blow their brains out, slice them horizontally or vertically, chop their heads off, impale them on spikes or rip their guts out. And that's just the humanitarian stuff!
You can kill as many as you want because there's literally no end to the supply of zombies. One of Inafune-san's reasons for making Dead Rising is to test the Xbox 360 hardware, putting it under pressure to display over 100 flesh eaters at once. It's extremely impressive from a technical standpoint.
But if you can't eradicate all the zombies, what are the alternatives? The choices available to you are what lift Dead Rising well beyond a repetitive bloodsoaked beat 'em up. At the start of the game, you're informed that a helicopter will arrive at the mall in 72 hours (about 15 hours in real time). How to spend that duration is entirely up to you. Now you could just find a safe place to hide and wait there until the chopper arrives. Or you can get out there and try to rescue some of the mall's 100 other human residents. Your reason for doing this isn't just out of charity. Playing as photojournalist Frank, you're also looking for the big scoop and only the other survivors hold the key to why zombies walk the earth.