The main objective of the game is to remain alive inside the zombie-infested mall for at least three days, after which help will arrive via chartered helicopter. In-game time runs approximately twelve times faster than real-time, i.e., one day in-game is exactly two hours in real time. Therefore, the game is automatically ended after six hours of gameplay, when the time runs out. The player can choose whether or not to pursue any of the game's objectives.
As Frank West, the player attempts to uncover the truth behind the zombie epidemic by completing "case files" that reveal the central game plot as the game progresses. "Case files" are unlocked either by completing specific tasks or by being "in the right place at the right time" in order to observe a cutscene which serves as the story's exposition. Frank also carries a camera. By taking pictures of different situations in gameplay the player can earn "Prestige Points", a form of experience points that allows the character to increase Frank's combat abilities. Pictures are automatically evaluated and assigned a genre: either erotica, horror, outtakes, drama, or brutality.
The setting of Dead Rising, the fictional Willamette Parkview Mall, is modeled after a stereotypical American mall with multiple floors and several themed sections. The mall includes a roller coaster, supermarket, a movie theater, a park, and an underground tunnel system. There are six main sections to the mall, each with a variety of shops. There are over 80 stores in the game, each filled with usable objects which can be used to improve Frank's health or as weapons.
Encounters with Surviving Human CharactersEdit
"Scoops" serve as optional side quests for the game. These are assigned to the player by answering walkie-talkie calls from a janitor character watching the security cameras. Scoops will usually direct the player to a location in the mall to investigate a person who has not yet turned into a zombie. These people are either "survivors" or "psychopaths." Survivors are human characters who, like Frank, are trying to survive the zombie outbreak but need assistance to do so. There are 54 survivors that can be located via scoops or investigation of the mall's areas. Upon rescue, they will join the player's party and can be taken to the safety of the security room. The survivors mainly take shelter inside stores, but some have been split up or are being held hostage by a psychopath. Psychopaths are human characters that have been driven insane due to events of the zombie outbreak, or have used the havoc as a cover to accomplish their own evil ends. They serve as the game's boss battles.
Frank carries a notebook with him and records details about all human characters encountered, noting their status as either "Located", "Safe", "Dead", "Lost", or "Undead". Over the course of Dead Rising, some will request or give the player items, while others will revolt against the player and attempt mutiny. Most of these missions are optional.
The citizens of Willamette (where the game takes place) who were not initially killed by the zombie outbreak are referred to as "survivors." There are about 54 survivors (counting Frank himself) scattered across the mall, and their fate is dependent on Frank. Otis gives Frank a transmitter and a map of the mall, contacting him about events happening in the mall. Otis acts as the source of information for finding survivors. However, Otis will not notice all of the survivors and thus, some must be stumbled upon. Many survivors can be escorted safely to the security room, while others may be injured or too scared, requiring Frank to carry them to the exit point, rendering him unable to use his weapons. Others might require subduing, before they finally allow Frank to rescue them, either because they refuse to move or because they attack Frank. Successful rescues will earn points for the player. The player may also choose to leave the survivors to die, or kill them himself. Some survivors are also impossible to rescue, either because they die immediately when spotted, or commit suicide.
In addition to battling thousands of zombies, Frank West must also deal with psychopaths, humans who have either gone mad due to the zombie outbreak or are otherwise corrupt or evil, and who serve as the game's bosses. Examples include a clown who became insane after seeing his audience eaten, a manager of a food mart obsessed with keeping it clean and free of vandalism, a deranged butcher who thinks zombies are "spoiled meat" and humans are "fresh meat", and a Vietnam War veteran stuck in a war flashback after seeing his granddaughter eaten by zombies.
Leveling Systems and WeaponsEdit
Dead Rising incorporates a system that allows Frank to learn new offensive attacks, increase the amount of damage he can take, throw weapons further, increased damage, carry more items, or improve his speed. Many attacks that Frank can learn are professional wrestling moves (e.g. facecrusher, suplex, knee drop). One new skill or ability is awarded randomly at each increase in level. Prestige Points act as experience points, and allow the player to increase his or her skills. They are gained by helping survivors, taking pictures, and killing zombies, among other things. Should the player start a new game, all experience progression made in previous games can be carried over to the new game.
Dead Rising is notable for the hundreds of weapons that the player can find in the mall and use against the zombies. There are over 250 items that can be used as weapons, including chainsaws, baseball bats, axes, katanas, sledgehammers, mall furniture, potted plants, frying pans, guitars, toy swords, and even water guns. Weapons will break down or run out of ammunition with use and be discarded, but certain weapons can be reused after breaking down. For example, a push broom can break in two, leaving the wooden staff to be used as a spear; or a mannequin, which breaks into five usable parts, such as the arms, legs, or torso. Others can be changed by the environment, such as the frying pan, which can be heated on a stove to both increase damage and gain access to a special move. The player can also lift larger items like benches or cash registers that can be used to smash foes or be thrown at them. These items are not considered part of the player's inventory, as the player cannot store the item and it will be dropped if the player selects a different weapon from his/her inventory.
Some strategic elements are also present in the game. Certain books from the mall's bookstores will increase the durability of a weapon or the effectiveness of a health item in the player's inventory. Certain foods can be cooked by various appliances found in the mall to increase their effectiveness, and players may also combine two food or food-related items in blenders found throughout the mall to produce one of seven different Juices, which provide temporary effects like invulnerability and boosts in speed.
There can be up to 800 zombies on the screen at once. During the day the zombies are more sluggish, but at night they become more active, gain red glowing eyes and increase in numbers.
Game Modes and Save SystemEdit
The gameplay, aside from the time-specific cases, is open-ended and offers few constraints on the player's progress. The storyline may simply be ignored, leaving the player free to just spend the entire three days in the mall sampling food, trying on clothes or killing zombies if they so desire; some of the game's 50 Achievements reward this method of play. Also, the player may choose to ignore the plot completely, and gain more Prestige Points to level up and use in a later game.
Dead Rising features three modes of play:
- 72 Hour Mode: Frank has three days to solve the mystery of the zombie outbreak. This is the main mode of play.
- Overtime Mode: An extra day that wraps up the events of 72 Hour mode. Unlocked by getting the best resolution, the 'A' ending in 72 hour mode.
- Infinity Mode: A sandbox mode where Frank must last as long as he can. The biggest difference is that Frank can now die of hunger, with the health bar dropping once every 100 seconds to represent this. Food is now limited and the transceiver, some watch functions and most importantly the save system, are disabled. Everyone, including survivors, are now enemies (which drop character-related supplies upon their deaths) and they all fight each other for the food they hold in order to survive. The game continues until Frank's inevitable demise, and is unlocked by finishing Overtime Mode.
In all three modes of gameplay time elapses at a rate of 12 game hours to every 1 real time hour.
Dead Rising has an unusual save system: only one game-in-progress can be saved per memory device per Xbox 360 profile. In these cases, Dead Rising allows players to save their current level and status and restart the game from the beginning as a more powerful player. The system is a deliberate game mechanic, borrowed from one of Capcom's RPGs Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. The two games share some development team members.
Though the unusual saves are largely unpopular with gamers and likely caused Dead Rising to be scored lower on game ratings, Keiji Inafune said, in an interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly, that the saves were intentionally designed so that players would feel that there were some consequences for their actions and would be forced to make quick, tactical decisions.
- Lindsay Harris - was found on the first day in the Entrance Plaza, looking for her dog Madonna. She was killed when she allowed the zombies to break into the plaza.
- Cletus Samson - owner of the Huntin' Shack, Cletus at first distrusts Frank, going so far as to shoot at him with his shotgun. After a brief battle, he sells Frank weapons and weapon upgrades.
- Otis Washington - after safely sealing the door in the beginning, Otis provides Frank with locations of the survivors in the game.
- Steven Chapman - the deranged manager of the mall supermarket Seon's Food & Stuff. After kidnapping Isabela, he attacks Frank with a shopping cart with cleavers, pitchforks, and other sharp weapons sticking out of it.
- Adam MacIntyre - driven to insanity after he witnessed the gruesome deaths of his audience, Adam, the former fun-loving clown, goes on a psychotic rampage at the Space Rider roller coaster wielding dual chainsaws.
- Larry Chiang - a demented butcher who considered zombies as "spoiled meat" and people as "fresh meat." Larry is encountered, along with Carlito, in the Meat Processing Area.
- Jo Slade - a corrupt female police officer who had captured at least four young women in order to torture them. In Chop Till You Drop, Jo only appears as a moderately powerful zombie with no storyline.
- Kent Swanson - A jealous photographer who gets the idea of shooting the exact moment a person becomes zombified, and proceeds to try out his experiment on an unwilling participant. Kent only appears as a zombie in Chop Till You Drop.
- Cliff Hudson - was a veteran of the Vietnam War who had taken refuge inside Crislip's Home Saloon and took "prisoners of war", who were actually survivors of the zombie outbreak. Cliff only appears as a zombie in Chop Till You Drop.
- The Hall Family - Roger Hall and his two sons Jack and Thomas are three hunter psychopaths who shoot zombies and humans indiscriminately on the upper level of the Entrance plaza.
- Sean Keanan - The white-garbed sword-wielding leader of the True Eye Cult, Sean orders Frank gassed, stripped and locked up in a wooden crate at one point in the game. Members of the True Eye Cult have eerie green faces and wear bright yellow raincoats. Their base is Colby's Movieland.
- Freddie May - Survivor seen making barricade in Entrance Plaza.
- Alan Peterson - Man seen arguing with wife, Kathy during mall break in.
- Josh Manning - Man held captive by Cliff Hudson.
The game focuses on the exploits of Frank West, a photojournalist investigating why the fictional town of Willamette, Colorado has been sealed off by the National Guard. Frank is dropped on top of the city's mall by helicopter. Frank tells the pilot, Ed Deluca, to return in exactly 72 hours. Upon entering the mall, Frank finds zombies storming in through the front entrance. A Homeland Security officer named Brad urges everyone to retreat to the security room. Upon entering, the janitor, Otis Washington, welds the door shut. Brad then leaves the security room via the air ducts. Jessie, also of Homeland Security, recognizes an old man she identifies as Dr. Barnaby in one of Frank's photos, but neither Brad nor Jessie are willing to share what they know. After receiving a transceiver and map from Otis in order to be kept informed of the mall's events, Frank returns to the mall through the air ducts. He encounters survivors who need his assistance to the security room, as well as other people driven to madness by the zombie infestation, known as Psychopaths.
As the story unfolds, Frank and Brad have a series of violent encounters with Carlito, a mysterious Hispanic man, while Frank continues to come across a beautiful Hispanic woman named Isabela. Frank and Brad are eventually able to bring Dr. Barnaby and later, Isabela to the security room. Isabela reveals she is Carlito's sister and that Dr. Barnaby was the head of a research laboratory in the fictional Central American city of Santa Cabeza, the hometown of Carlito and Isabela. Dr. Barnaby, however, suddenly attacks Jessie and begins to show signs of zombification. When Frank questions him, he confesses that the research facility was attempting to find methods of mass-producing cattle, but instead, Barnaby and his team discovered an insect called a "queen" that would turn the cattle into zombies with a single sting. After one of the "queens" escaped and infected the town of Santa Cabeza, the US government sent a Special Forces team in to wipe out the entire city. The massacre was covered up under the pretenses that it was a raid on drug-trade operations. Outraged over the slaughter of his people and home, Carlito released "queens" in Willamette in revenge. After Dr. Barnaby reveals the true nature of the infection, he dies, and turns into a zombie, but is shot in the head by Brad before he can harm Frank.
The zombie outbreak in Willamette is only the tip of the iceberg, however, as Isabela later explains Carlito has much bigger plans. Hidden beneath the mall are five bombs that when detonated will release queen larva into the atmosphere, making a worldwide zombie outbreak a possibility. Frank is able to disarm the bombs in time to stop the explosion, but Brad is mortally wounded by zombies when pursuing Carlito. Frank and the remaining survivors turn their attention towards escaping to safety. Isabela reveals that Carlito has a hideout in the mall containing a laptop full of information, as well as a jamming device preventing Jessie from calling for outside help. Jessie tracks Carlito to an underground meat processing plant via the security cameras and Frank rescues him from an insane butcher, but is unable to acquire the laptop password from Carlito before he dies from his wounds. However, Carlito's dying request to give Isabela his locket helps her figure out the laptop password and deactivate the jamming device.
Jessie places a call for help, only to be told that another cleanup mission has been authorized instead; Special Forces soldiers arrive in the mall shortly thereafter, killing anything that moves. Frank makes his way back to the security room, only to find it empty save for two dead soldiers killed by Jessie, now zombified from Barnaby's earlier attack. A note reveals that Otis has commandeered a Special Forces helicopter and flown himself and the other survivors to safety. After avoiding capture by the Special Forces soldiers until they complete their cleanup mission, Frank makes his way back to Carlito's hideout and asks Isabela to come with him to the Helipad; she refuses. Frank makes his way back to the helipad to meet Ed. Unfortunately, a zombie finds its way onto the helicopter and attacks Ed, causing him to crash the helicopter into the middle of the mall's park. The game seemingly ends as Frank slumps to his knees, doing nothing to avoid the small group of zombies approaching him.
Still on the helipad, Frank is narrowly saved by Isabela, who shoots a zombie just as it is about to bite him. Frank passes out; he comes to in Carlito's hideout, where Isabela tells him that he has been infected, giving Frank just 24 hours before he becomes a zombie. However, Isabela believes she may be able to manufacture a cure from various items found in the mall, prompting Frank to scavenge for them. With the items Frank finds, Isabela is unable to manufacture a cure, but instead comes up with a symptomatic treatment which temporarily suppresses the zombification caused by the infection. Accessing Carlito's laptop, they also uncover his plot to scatter 50 orphans infected with the virus across the country.
Turning towards efforts to escape, Frank discovers a tunnel underneath the park, uncovered by Ed's helicopter crash. The tunnel is packed with zombies, but with some more items gathered by Frank, Isabela is able to create a pheromone which repels them. Frank overpowers two Special Forces soldiers guarding the end of the tunnel and commandeers their vehicle to escape. Their efforts are interrupted by a tank, which they are able to disable. The special forces leader, Brock, emerges and reveals he was behind the original cleanup in Santa Cabeza. Frank jumps atop the tank, engages Brock in hand-to-hand combat and eventually knocks him into the mob of zombies surrounding the tank. The game ends as Frank drops to his knees and screams into the sky.
A text epilogue reveals that Frank was able to leave Willamette with credible information about the story, forcing the U.S. Government to accept at least partial responsibility for the Santa Cabeza incident, but denied connections to the Willamette outbreak. While the Willamette incident was widely reported, the American public eventually let it fade from their minds. No further information on Carlito's additional plan involving infected, symptom-suppressed orphans (mentioned in his laptop) was uncovered or verified, leaving its status uncertain.
The game ends with the text, "And yet he complained that his belly was not full" (a slight misquotation from the English nursery rhyme "Robin the Bobbin", a poem about a glutton who eats people).
The main influences for the game were zombie movies from the 1960s and 1970s, especially those of George Romero. Keiji Inafune wanted to show a more comical view of zombies, rather than the serious view portrayed by the zombies in the Resident Evil series. The zombies in Dead Rising are meant to represent the greed and hunger of mankind.
A little-known fact is that Dead Rising was originally planned to be a sequel to Shadow of Rome. When sales for Shadow of Rome did not go over as well as anticipated in America, Inafune had the gladiators replaced with zombies at the mall.
On March 30, 2007, a compact disc soundtrack featuring music written by Hideki Okugawa and Marika Suzuki, was released in a 2,000-copy limited edition. It was packaged with a T-shirt that showcased Frank, Isabela, and an outline of the mall.
Character Design Edit
Keiji Inafune, designer of Mega Man and Dead Rising, wanted the main character Frank West to be different than the usual Japanese main character. Instead of having a young and beautiful main character like most other games, he wanted an everyman that looked average rather than beautiful or ugly.
Frank's default attire includes a black jacket with a white button-up shirt, green khaki pants, and brown loafers. His appearance can be altered throughout the game by visiting the various stores of the mall. These range from changing into business suits and dresses to donning different glasses and masks. Many of Dead Rising's costumes are references to other Capcom games such as Frank's unlockable Arthur's boxers from Ghosts 'n Goblins, as well as Mega Man X's armor.
- Steven Chapman appeared as a card in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3's Heroes & Heralds mode.