Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop

The finest zombie game ever made shuffles onto Wii...

One rag-tag band of survivors in a shopping centre filled with shambling zombies, and a disclaimer to remind us all that this is in no way, absolutely, definitely nothing to do with George Romero's Dawn Of The Dead movie. We're talking Dead Rising, the finest zombie game ever made - now on Wii.

Things have changed somewhat since the Xbox 360 original, but it's still recognisably the Willamette Parkview Mall and the lead character is definitely Frank West, a photojournalist who sneaks into the locked-down town to investigate strange happenings as the army prepares to wipe the entire area from the map.


On the 360 Dead Rising is a technical showcase, with the undead packed in so tightly that one of Frank's evasive techniques is to walk on their shoulders, surfing zombies like an ageing mosher at a Metallica gig. On Wii the town is a little less populated - Frank would have to be able to jump like Mario to get from zombie to zombie in this version, but he does have a few new tricks and abilities to show off.

The game's based on the Resident Evil 4 engine, and features very similar controls. Consequently it's possible to target zombies' heads with great speed and accuracy, lending greater importance to the various guns and projectile weapons you'll find scattered around the mall.

In our hands-on with the game we started with a pistol and picked up a shotgun that was powerful enough to take down any of the normal enemies with just a couple of hits. Holding down B to enter aiming mode, the cursor can be moved freely with the pointer. Headshots all round.

We also grabbed a sniper rifle that works slightly differently - when you're aiming with one of those, the analogue stick on the nunchuk is used to aim. Whenever the aiming mode is active, whichever variation it happens to be, the D-pad is used to cycle between all the guns in your inventory.

There's also a circular saw blade that you can fling like a frisbee. If you activate aiming mode while this is equipped, Frank is frozen to the spot and the cursor vanishes. The blade seems to home in on the general direction of its target and the chances of it scoring a lethal hit depend on how well the intended victim is centered on the screen before you fling the metal disc.

Frank can also pick up various bits and pieces found lying around in the mall, and use them to batter zombies in a more creative way. Cash registers can be grabbed and used to brain enemies for fun and profit. Servbot masks from the toy shop can be jammed onto zombies' heads, rendering them harmless. Grab an umbrella and use it to topple a cluster of enemies, or get behind the wheels of a shopping trolley, put your head down and charge through the mall.


One of the best parts of the game is finding the many unusual ways to deliver justice to the undead, although, unsurprisingly, there aren't quite as many on Wii as there are in the original.

The structure of the game has changed considerably. The Xbox version is so uncompromisingly difficult, with a strict time limit and an unforgiving save system, that many players gave up on it2 at an early stage. On Wii it's pitched as more of a lightweight sort of shooter/fighting game, and the challenge is much gentler.

In the original, events would happen at predefined times, so if you were on the other side of the mall you'd have to make a long and desperate journey3 to prevent some crucial part of the story expiring, forcing a restart. The Wii simply presents you with a set of missions that can be completed in any order and at any time. When all the parts of the current set have been done, you move on to the next bunch of challenges.

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