Warning: Contains spoilers.
The Xbox exclusive title “Dead Rising”, released in 2006, became a big hit for Capcom and set a precedent for new zombie titles yet to come. Non-traditional aspects of the survival horror genre are welcomed within this title. Instead of limited ammunition and the odd melee fight, Dead Rising allowed you to interact with the world and all of its ideas. The strangely open world aspect of a closed-in environment instantly drew in a lot of players. Even though there was limited time in-game, you had a lot to do.
Before we talk about aspects of the game, I want to mention that the protagonist, Frank West is actually a journalist! This freelancer has covered wars y’know? When I learnt the main character is a journalist, I couldn’t help but have a need to play it! I wish the game could keep my happiness focused on the journalist representation but that was quickly ruined… but I’ll leave that for later.
Dead Rising has a number of unconventional ideas placed within the game, one being the health system. Instead of a colour-coded health bar like Resident Evil presented, Dead Rising used “blocks” of unknown health amounts to display health. You’re constantly on edge when the blocks get down to 3 as you never know what could finish you off. There are no traditional health items, instead, food is a much more viable option as you find it everywhere being in a mall. It left me wondering what this reminded me of and now it clicked. Actual American healthcare! You get shot? Eat an apple or something, you aren’t going to actually get the help you need!
Like I mentioned, instead of having a set number of weapons, you can interact with the world, going from a handbag to a battle axe. This allows the place to choose exactly what method they want to play with. Do they want to use flour to stun zombies? Or do they want to use more brutal methods of guns and knives? The game also allows the player to dress up in an array of clothing items like dresses. This means that the player is open to express themselves however they please. However, I have to say, whenever Frank does put a dress on he displays a “sexual” dance.
The game also plays on a timed aspect: 72 hours in-game is roughly 6 hours real-time. You have missions to attend and missing one will be an instant game over, however you have downtime that allows you to explore and see the content within the in-game world.
Before we talk about the faux meat of the game, let’s talk about the metaphorical bread and butter of these games, the psychopaths. They’re a mix of corrupt individuals as well as people who have gone insane due to the zombie outbreak. One psychopath that appears is Jo Slade, a corrupt police officer (like pretty much all others) who abducts women in order to sexually assault them. However, I feel that because she is one of the biggest models in-game (weight wise), it gives the twisted idea that bigger people are creepy incel creatures with an incurable passion for sex.
Let’s actually talk about the story, shall we? You play as Frank West (previously spoken about) as he gets news that the army is closing down Willamette, and so flies over in a helicopter to enter the location of the game. You meet a mysterious figure, Carlito, who is the antagonist of the game. Why? Well, because Carlito started the infection. Throughout the game Carlito is seen as the bad guy, but why? His town of Santa Cabeza was destroyed after American testing to increase cattle input for the US spawned the zombie outbreak. So, Carlito wanted revenge and so started his own zombie outbreak in Willamette. You’re meant to see Carlito as the wounded warrior, evil and cruel, however, I simply cannot.
It does question the importance of meat for the US, as Carlito believed the Americans valued “meat over human life.” which is, unfortunately, terribly true. In today’s society, meat is valued more than human life, people are sold into slavery like food trades in order to get that $1 burger on your plate. How is it that Carlito is seen as the enemy when it is truly America’s fault for the outbreak. Propaganda in defence of “the land of the free”? Most likely. He just wanted justice for this home, a home that America had once again ruined, and we’re meant to hate him? Not me.
The themes of it being set in a mall is an obvious niff to consumerism within America, onscreen 800 zombies all grabbing at you? Fighting? Biting? Yeah…that’s good ol’ traditional American shopping! What’s a day out without getting into at least one brawl with masses greedy Americans? I like the subtle idea of consumerism as it points out the real issue within America’s constant need to get their grubby little hands over everything. I think this is an important point to slot in with America’s hunger for meat that resulted in thousands dying.
The game plays out over 3 days: get in, get the scoop, get out. Which makes us journalists seem more coldhearted than we actually are. It’s nice to see Frank care somewhat for the characters around him but I can’t shake the feeling that journalists are portrayed in a negative light. You join ranks with “sister-terrorist” Isabela in order to get out of Willamette.
However, after Carlos’ death, I found the story was struggling to keep ties into the important note of American consumerism and focused more on American saves POC woman! Not saying I didn’t enjoy playing as a journalist, it just felt like the run of a mill white man saves women trope I’m fed up of within the games.
The themes of it being set in a mall is an obvious niff to consumerism within America, onscreen 800 zombies all grabbing at you? Fighting? Biting? Yeah…that’s good ol’ traditional American shopping! What’s a day out without getting into at least ONE brawl with masses greedy Americans? I like the subtle idea of consumerism as it points out the real issue within America’s constant need to get their grubby little hands over everything.