Dead Rising E3 2005 First Impressions

Zombies attack the Xbox 360 in this campy action game from Capcom.

Zombies? Capcom? Must mean another Resident Evil game, right? Not so fast, folks. At today's E3 2005 preshow press event, top Capcom producer Keiji Inafune, the man behind the Mega Man and Onimusha franchises, announced a new zombie action game for Microsoft's upcoming console, the Xbox 360. The game is titled Dead Rising, and it follows the misadventures of a self-proclaimed "wartime photojournalist" who, while on the hunt for a major scoop, stumbles upon a town full of upwardly mobile corpses. Like last year's hit horror remake Dawn of the Dead, the game takes place inside an abandoned shopping mall. Though a playable version of the game was not available, Capcom showed off a detailed trailer that gave us a look at many of the mechanics that will be featured in the game.

For those expecting a game that's just another Resident Evil clone, apart from the whole zombie thing, this one seems significantly different in tone. Namely, it seems geared less toward unsettling horror and more toward campy, over-the-top horror. The demo showed off quite a bit of the game's hero using items and weapons scattered about the mall to vanquish large groupings of zombies. Metal bars, shotguns, axes, chain saws, and even a big, honking lawnmower were used to put a stop to the walking dead. As you might expect, such weapons lend themselves to making quite a mess, and indeed, each attack left quite a bit of zombie blood and guts all over the environment (especially the lawnmower). When using the chain saw, the main character seemed able to dynamically slice away at an opposing zombie, causing a significant, and altogether diagonal portion of the zombie's torso to slide off the rest of the body. One interesting thing we noticed during gun combat was that while the hero used a handgun, the game switched to a Resident Evil 4-like camera angle, so perhaps there's a little RE inspiration here after all.

Apart from all manner of zombie killing, we also saw another key mechanic to the game, which revolves around the hero's profession as a photojournalist. When faced with the utterly mind-blowing situation of being attacked by swarms of zombies, the hero is forced to decide between getting the story of a lifetime or just doing everything possible to survive until help can arrive. Ultimately, he chooses both. So, as you kill off zombies while waiting for help, you'll also be photo-documenting the horrors of the game with your trusty camera. How precisely you'll be rewarded for doing so was not made clear, but several portions of the video showed the hero snapping pictures as groups of undead ambled toward him.

As this is an Xbox 360 title, it's a given expectation that this game will provide some impressive graphics. While we must say that the game didn't seem to be the most amazing thing we'd ever seen in terms of just pure graphical power, the visuals impressed us in other ways. Specifically, it seems like the game is capable of holding a whole metric ton of characters onscreen at once. While most of the trailer showed large swarms of zombies attacking, we were absolutely blown away by one shot where the hero stood atop an idle truck, blasting away at, quite literally, hundreds upon hundreds of attacking zombies that seemed to stretch on forever. This shot most definitely looked like it was in-game, so forgive us if we're more than a little excited about going up against those kinds of numbers of angry, hungry zombies. The game also showed off a lot of cool and varied animations, such as several of the hand-to-hand combat moves the hero can pull off. One featured the main character gorilla-press-slamming a zombie into a crowd of his cohorts; another still had the hero grabbing a zombie from behind and jumping forward, slamming the zombie's face into the ground and causing its head to explode. Professional zombie wrestling, anyone?

Inafune talked about another main theme of the game--though it wasn't shown--which would be a man-versus-man element. Inafune discussed how in a situation as high stress and high risk as something like a zombie attack, people would naturally panic and turn on one another. If modern horror cinema is any indication, we're inclined to agree with him. So, it would seem that at some point in the game, you'll be working against rival survivors in some capacity.

All in all, we came away from Capcom's event extremely eager to find out more about this intriguing horror game. Inafune and company seem to be going for a much more American-horror-inspired piece of work, with its overly grotesque action and seemingly tongue-in-cheek style. That's not to say the game is going to be nothing but comedy, of course, as the action looked pretty intense as well, and with that many zombies coming after you at once, it's unlikely you'll be giggling for long. If Capcom can strike a good balance between the cheesy and the terrifying, it could have a winner on its hands. A playable version of Dead Rising will be available at E3 starting this Friday. Come back to GameSpot for more info then.

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