|Capcom (Xbox 360)
Photojournalist Frank West is looking for the next big scoop, but he gets trapped inside a shopping mall with armies of the undead. Sound familiar? Despite the disclaimer that the game has no connection to Dawn of the Dead, fans of that film will love Dead Rising. As Frank, you must escort uninfected survivors to safety, take Pulitzer-worthy pics of the most sensational moments, and uncover the mystery behind the zombie epidemic.
An unprecedented number of fully rendered enemies can appear onscreen at any time with nary a stutter, thanks to Xbox 360's processing power. Fortunately, the mall has an endless supply of resources (baseball bats, frying pans, potted plants) for bludgeoning the flesh-eating freaks. (S&V readers are sure to feel remorse when they bash a baddie over the head with a plasma TV.) True, in gameplay, the character models look only slightly better than average by original Xbox standards, and the environments are a bit too polished and clean. But the cinematic cut-scenes are up to the usual Capcom caliber - which is to say, incredibly detailed, right down to the pores on Frank's face. One caveat: The small subtitles look subpar on a decent-sized HDTV, so they'll be nearly illegible to gamers with standard-def sets.
Hammy voice performances for Frank and other characters are made up for by the weapons' perfect sound effects. The reverberating Muzak and messages from the mall's P.A. system, not to mention the tormented moans and groans from all directions, add to the ambience.
A frustrating save system will have you repeating long stretches of Dead Rising, but no matter. There's a tremendous amount of replay value, what with the huge choice of weapons and the many side missions you can take. Couple all that with a gripping sense of danger, and this game will surely get a rise out of you.
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