Dead Rising was one of the early successes on the Xbox 360. Once the demo hit Xbox Live Marketplace, it was clear that the Dawn of the Dead homage was going to become a franchise. But rather than work on an Xbox 360 sequel, the Japanese developer has decided to produce a Wii spin-off using the Resident Evil 4 engine. The result is a more hands-on action experience, as you fight your way through Willamette mall using a Wii Remote and nunchuk. We were lucky enough to be offered a hands-on with the new game at Capcom's Leipzig booth, and found it to be an enjoyable, if energy-consuming, experience.
First of all, the Wii controls have been pretty well implemented. While there aren't any new weapons, the emphasis has been placed on the guns rather than hand-to-hand combat. Aiming a gun works exactly as it did in Resident Evil 4, with the remote's trigger used to enter aiming and the A button for firing. The same chairs, baseball bats, and guitars can still be picked up for the personal touch, and you have two methods for attacking. The A button will swing whatever you have in your hands, but you can also shake the Wii Remote if you want a stronger attack. It basically depends on how lazy you feel like being at any given point.
If you manage to stun your opponents with a gunshot or a powerful strike, then you can follow up with a finishing move by waggling the Wii Remote. The same technique works for shaking off a zombie who's trying to take a bite out of you, or if you want to recover from an attack like Adam the Clown's gas balloon attacks. We particularly liked using the baseball bat in the Stun mode, as you can shake the remote to build up a superpowerful strike to send the dazed zombie flying through the air. The comedy weapons also make a return, with footballs, shopping trolleys, and toy light swords making funny but inept ways to take out the zombie hordes.
The Leipzig demo showed off a limited portion of the mall setting from the original game. We got to visit all the familiar locations--the toy store, the music store, and the cafeteria--and it was all reassuringly familiar. In fact, Capcom claims that the entire game will be pretty much exactly the same as the original in terms of story progression and endings. What has changed is that a number of annoying features have been ironed out following player feedback. The save system is now much more regular and occurs at the end of each case. You'll also be able to go away and rescue civilians without receiving a time penalty on the case you're working on. And you'll be able to hold on to more weapons, with up to four slots dedicated to firearms.
The Resident Evil 4 engine looks like the perfect base for Dead Rising on the Wii. It's a shame that there won't be a new storyline to play through, but we think the game is different enough that fans will want to make a return visit to the famous mall. The game is set for release on the Wii in Q4 2008, so expect to see more on Dead Rising: Chop Til You Drop in the coming months.