Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dead Rising Impressions

What is it with sandbox games and their shitty save systems and crappy combat controls? I will freely admit that sandbox games are not my typical style of game, so I haven't played too many of them, but I find it completely ironic that I dump Grand Theft Auto IV, which featured a poor save system and combat controls, for Dead Rising, which turns out to have an even shittier save system and horrendous fire arm controls.

I just can't win, which is too bad because the demo for Dead Rising was so bloody promising, pun intended. Ripping apart the zombies in the game, and the variety of ways that you can do it, is sheer joy. Love it, absolutely love it. The character models featured in the game, considering it was released in 2006, are excellent. Very detailed skin textures and character animations: from the subtle movement of hair, to facial expressions, to the slight (and over-exaggerated) bounce of Jessica's breasts. Very well done models, and excellent examples of the game's high production values.

Wait at the Main Menu, and you'll be treated to a great cinematic, gorgeously animated with solid voice acting, of a mother and daughter attempting to flee the city. That really set the tone of the game for me, and raised my expectations ten-fold. The game's actual intro is very well done, giving you a nice and detailed fly-by of the city itself and a few, unfortunate survivors. The mall itself, the sections I've seen that is, are beautifully designed with a great variety of shops, decor, and items that you can use to beat the undead.

Being a zombie-whore, you'd think I'd be in heaven, but then, sadly, enters the game's save system.
You can only save your game at the couch in the Security Office (your safe house), or at washrooms that are sparsely scattered about the mall. This means that you can spend an hour playing without saving your game, die, and have to start from your last save or right from scratch.

Now, the g
ame only lets you have one character on your Storage Device at any one time, and if you die, you can save him and start from scratch with the stats, Level, and abilities that you've already earned. In fact, everywhere I read recommends you do this several times until you're about Level 15, otherwise the game will be too hard. So my question is, who came up with that genius idea? Thanks, C(r)apcom. So basically, you want me to fail in frustration several times just to get to the character Level that the game _should_ have started me at? Wonderful design. And yes, there's lots of frustration to be had in Dead Rising.

Pull out
your Pistol and press Right Trigger. You zoom in, and can adjust your aim with the Left Stick. Awesome. Now, point your gun at an upwards angle and zoom in. That's right, it immediately centres your view. How wonderful and precise for tracking a moving target! And yes, that was sarcasm. The combat controls specifically to do with firearms in this game are horrible, and have left me cursing a blue streak several times already. Against zombies, melee is fine and its controls are quite good, though not perfect, but against psychos, you want accurate firearms.

I could go on about what frustrates me, such as the survivor AI, Otis' transmitter calls, those convicts in the park who target only you when you're around, etc., but suffice it to say, I'm very disappointed indeed. Sandbox games, I've decided, are not for me; not if developers keep insisting on creating them with sub-par standards.

I'm going to try going through the main plot line only in Dead Rising, and if that pisses me off too much, I'll simply sell the game. Too bad, as Dead Rising could have been a real gem. Oh well, lesson learned, and at least there's some simple Achievements to milk.

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