Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop Wii Review
The original Dead Rising on Xbox 360 was one of the first real showcases of the graphical and processing power of ‘next-generation’ consoles. Allowing you an extreme amount of freedom to roam around a zombie-infested shopping mall, and featuring a jaw-dropping amount of zombies on-screen at once, it felt like something that could never have been achieved in previous generations.
It comes as no surprise that this abridged Wii port is inferior in every way to the original game. What is more disappointing is that Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop is inferior to many other Wii games also.
CTYD follows the same plot as the original game, although it fails to set the scene even half as well. Reckless photojournalist Frank West is investigating why the small town of Willamette has been sealed off by the National Guard, and soon finds himself trapped in huge shopping mall that is swarming with the undead.
Except in this version of the game, the player doesn’t get to take any photographs, and the zombie horde is more of a mild irritation than an actual apocalypse. You rarely see more than a dozen of the infected former humans that dotted around the mall at any one time, and the pop-in is so bad that a zombie will often not appear until you’re standing right next to him.
It feels like the whole mall is filled with some kind of eerie fog that makes areas seem deserted unless you’re actually standing in them. It doesn’t help that the visuals are so drab and grainy that the whole game is actually repulsive to look at, and not in a good way.
Any possibility and purpose for exploration has also been removed, as there are no side-quests, and Case Files can only be played through in a linear order. The next dribble of plot is not gifted to you until you’ve completed several missions to escort survivors back to the safety of the security room.
The original game also gave an overall time-limit for gameplay, tasking you with doing everything you could in the 72 hours before your rescue helicopter returned. It created a great tension between the desires for exploration and time management. In CTYD your time for completing each mission is recorded, but this simply goes towards calculating a grade for every task. Getting the best grades does reward you with special weapons and clothing however, providing some incentive to playthrough quickly.
The challenge of navigating and battling your way through the mass of zombies is also absent, as your enemies are usually present in sparse enough numbers that you can simply run between them with no fear of being attacked. Further negating any difficulty is the fact that zombies drop ammo and money when killed, meaning you’re never short of a gun to use.
It comes as a shock to realise that CTYD utilises the excellent mechanic of Resident Evil 4, as when you pull out a firearm, the classic over-the-shoulder view becomes a behind-the-back view. For some reason, Frank’s own body obscures the majority of the screen, making aiming an exercise in frustration.
The controls leave a lot to be desired. Although aiming is performed with the Wii Remote’s pointer, the aim camera can only be adjusted with the analog stick. This leads to a lot of annoyances when trying to kill the zombie parrots and poodles that for some reason are everywhere within the mall. Whilst the regular zombies are easy to beat down with any object you can get your hands on, these frustrating animals are almost impossible to melee, and you’ll find yourself resorting to simply running past them.
Part of the enjoyment of the original Dead Rising was the sheer variety of objects that could be used as weapons, often with hilarious results. The limited animations of the zombies, the relative low number of weapons, the abundance of ammo and the ease of simply avoiding zombies remove yet another plus point from the original game.
Frank can no longer climb upon objects or run through the water in the parks, and many corridors are simply blocked off. As there is nothing interesting to find in the game this restrictiveness is probably a good thing anyway. Frank also no longer learns new wrestling moves as he levels up, (although these can bizarrely later be purchased) and having to press the Z and A buttons together to open doors and talk to people adds a brown lining to this cloud of acid rain.
The battles with the bizarre and varied psychopaths have been reduced to simple affairs that see the insane survivors running back-and-forth or in circles around you, while you stand around shooting them in a state of almost zen-like boredom.
If I was forced to find one positive thing to say about Chop Till You Drop it would have to be that at least it contains the vaguely intriguing plot of Dead Rising. Sadly this is spoiled by some the fact that some of the cuts and changes that have been made in this port result in many of the cinematics not making sense.
The best ‘blooper’ has to be when an unknown character who has never appeared in the game previously pops up randomly in a cut scene, only to get killed moments later by a former gun shop owner. You then proceed to shoot this psychopath many times, before for some reason saving him from being eaten by a zombie. He then appears to forget that you were trying to murder each other moments earlier and opens up his gun shop for business so that he can sell you weapons in the middle of Armageddon…
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop feels like a cloning experiment that’s gone wrong. Instead of resulting in a perfectly healthy copy of a once-great individual, you’re left with an abhorrent gelatinous mess of bones, hair, flesh, teeth and faeces. It has managed to somehow destroy everything that made the original Dead Rising great, and become not just a terrible port, but a terrible game.
If you’ve never played the original game, some of the flaws may not be as apparent, and your experience will be that of a poor game, rather than a terrible one. So if you only own a Wii, feel free to add another two points to this score.
An absolute rotting putrid corpse of a video game…