Dead Rising: Chop 'til You Drop ReviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Mar 04, 2009
In this X-Play Review, we take a look at the Wii exclusive installment of the 'Dead Rising' series, 'Chop Til You Drop'. Oh boy! More zombies to kill!
- Killing zombies in tons of inventive ways is always a good thing
- Multiple save files and mid-mission saves
- Lack of technical power strips the game of any sense of terror and atmosphere
- Escort missions = still uninspired, repetitive and frustrating
- Wii controls add very little
Capcom’s Dead Rising: Chop Til You Drop, the Wii port of the similarly named Xbox 360 title, is a very bizarre creation. On the 360, the game really had something going for it, thanks to that console’s processing power, which allowed for tons of well-rendered zombies to be onscreen at once, all of which could be sliced, diced, bashed, mutilated and gored in glorious high-definition. Because of this, it actually felt like you were stuck in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Despite all of that game’s faults (most of which return the second time around), there is no denying its ability to instill a kind of claustrophobic terror in players that few games have been able to achieve. Without that graphical support, however, all of the game’s strengths are muted and all of its weaknesses are magnified.
Haven’t I Disemboweled You Somewhere Before?
For any Dead Rising fans out there hoping to find out more about the game’s narrative universe, you’re going to have to wait for the game’s true sequel. The Wii version tells the same tale of zombie-killer photojournalist Frank West, who drops into the zombie infested town of Willamette, Colorado to investigate the scoop of a lifetime. Except this time around, Frank doesn’t have access to his trusty camera, even though it is around his neck for the duration of the game and he uses it during several cutscenes. There are also no time constraints placed on any of the narrative elements. Instead, the story unfolds linearly, and the only way to move on to the next case file is to perform a set number of predetermined escort missions. This kind of structure makes sense, given the Wii’s lack of technical power, but that doesn’t mean it makes for a fun or entertaining experience, especially when every side mission is an escort mission, and when the story just isn’t that interesting.
While there isn’t anything new to report on the story front, and everything but the very core of the game has been cut to accommodate the Wii’s capabilities, you should know that after you complete the game, there are a couple of bonus modes to…well, enjoy is a bit of a stretch. Let’s just say, there are extra modes, and leave it at that. Odd Jobs throws you in various scenarios and asks you to complete certain objectives (kill 11 zombies with a soccer ball in the given time limit; survive for two minutes in a room full of zombies, etc.). Second Amendment consists of a series of sniper-only mini-games that are nothing special. There are also a few new enemies for you to kill, but the two that stand out are the ubiquitous zombie poodles and zombie parrots. I say “stand out” because they are two of the most obnoxious and infuriating game enemies I’ve come across in a long time. The parrots drop grenades as they fly overhead, and most of the time you won’t even know they are above you until you step on a grenade and lose a good chunk of your health.
However, it’s the poodles that are the most infuriating, because pretty much the only time you can melee them is when they are in mid air on their way to ripping off your face. Guns are clearly the way to go when dealing with these two enemies, but because the parrots float above your eye line and the poodles crouch below it, you won’t always be able to tell exactly where they are, which makes shooting them equally annoying. If for some reason you find these two enemies especially enjoyable though, there’s an odd job that pits you against nothing but parrots and poodles.
Zombie Horde, I’ll Miss You Most of All
All I have to say is that if (and when) the zombie apocalypse does come, I pray that it’s the one depicted in this game. Actually, apocalypse is too strong a word when discussing the outbreak in this game. It’s more like a zombie inconvenience than anything. In fact, there are times when it’s downright pleasant. Again, graphically, the Wii is simply no match for the 360. We know this. That’s not the issue. The issue is that the thing that made Dead Rising special was its ability to throw you in the middle of hundreds of zombies and make you feel a real sense of terror (despite all the wacky weaponry and outfits).
On the Wii, the game throws a dozen or so zombies at you at a time (most of which only pop when you come within a few feet of them), outfits them with two or three animations, and then calls it a day. If this game had come out seven or eight years ago, it would have blown us all away. (“My god, how did they manage to fit twenty zombies onscreen at one time?!”) Of course, that’s when you come across an area that actually has a fair amount of zombies in it. Sometimes, you’ll pass through areas and never even see another body, or if you do, they are so spread out that you’ll have to go out of your way to kill them. The only real (and surprisingly smart) step the game takes to make up for the limited number of enemies on screen is that the zombies now move a bit faster than their 360 counterparts did. Another great change is that you have 20 save files and you can save whenever you want (even mid-mission). Of course, the game isn’t all that challenging, so you won’t really need all those saves, but it’s still a much needed addition.
Take That You Awful, Awful Zombie You
In terms of gameplay, the Wii controls don’t really add anything to the overall experience, other than making the game more Resident Evil 4-ish, by letting you aim your gun with the Wiimote (which ends up neutering the psychopath fights) and forcing you to shake it in order to get gnawing zombies off your back. To attack, you’ll mostly use the A button. You have the option of swinging the Wiimote for a slightly more powerful attack, but these moves take so long to pull off that by the time you get the weapon around to make contact with a zombie, the zombie has already been able to hit you. So you're better off just using A for attacks, which pretty much nullifies the Wii-specific controls.
Another incredibly frustrating control issue comes from the fact that you have to press the Z and A buttons to interact with objects and doors. It’s just not a good idea to combine buttons to pull off a single action, because both buttons have individual functions, and if you don’t time it right, you perform whichever action that coincides with the button you happened to press a half a second before the other button. It wouldn’t be quite as annoying if it wasn’t used to control one of the most common actions in the game.
Leave for Dead
Look, Chop Til You Drop isn’t a complete failure. The game still lets you slay a bunch of zombies with anything that isn’t bolted to the ground, and that is always an enjoyable proposition, regardless of the graphical quality of the experience. The problem here is that the franchise’s defining characteristic is the ridiculous quantities of enemies it throws at you (and, of course, nothing but escort missions. Seriously, it’s enough already. They aren’t fun, they don’t make sense, and they are consistently frustrating and lame.). Without those massive zombie hordes, the game might as well just be any other zombie game. If you’ve never seen the 360 version, CTYD might entertain you for a little while, but that’ll only be because you won’t know what you’re missing out on by playing the stripped down version of the original game. And developers/publishers, please stop looking at the Wii as nothing more than a port machine. If you’re going to rerelease a game, make sure it’s been significantly retooled, reworked, redesigned, and upgraded enough to justify the game’s existence. Otherwise, just make a new game, so that if nothing else, at least Wii owners will have something original to experience for a change.
By Jake Gaskill
Producer: Matt Keil