Review: Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop

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From the jump, Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop seemed like a failed concept. Taking a fan-favorite Xbox 360 exclusive and porting it down to the Wii just sounded like a bad idea, and I fully admit to being among the Internet mob of doubters. But now having finished shooting and chopping through zombies in Willamette Mall once again – Wii Remote in hand this time rather than a 360 pad — I also have no problem admitting that I was completely wrong for ragging on this project so much before playing it.

Is Dead Rising Wii a gimped port of the original? Sure it is. I don’t even think Capcom would deny as much. The Wii simply can’t render as many zombies on screen as the 360 version, and in a game like this that is a significant downgrade. Other limitations were placed on the game as well, including a more linear mission structure and, oddly, complete removal of the photography system. However, the real question here is does it matter that the Wii version is a gimped port? And to that question the answer is an emphatic NO!

You see, Chop Till You Drop isn’t supposed to appeal to fans of the 360 version. It was ported to appeal to the Wii audience, many of which likely haven’t played the original to know what the differences are. So in throwing all comparisons between the two versions out the window and rightfully examining the game on its own merits, Chop Till You Drop actually finds a nice home on the Wii as a hammy survival horror delight.

Powered by the Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition engine, Chop Till You Drop taps into the Wii hardware admirably, both in terms of motion-control implementation and graphics quality. Blasting zombies is effortless with the point-and-shoot mechanics only the Wii Remote can provide, as is going melee on the dirty brain eaters with whatever makeshift weapons you can find throughout the mall’s shops – soccer balls, benches, potted plants, shovels, baseball bats, knives, swords, golf clubs, chainsaws, and…I think you get the idea here – which is as easy as waggling the remote or, for those with a distaste for waggle controls, mashing on the A button.

Some washed-out textures and pop-in aside, mangling zombies looks great on the Wii, too. The blood and dismemberment effects are diversely animated and consistently satisfying to behold, and gratifying wet, crunchy sound effects you’d expect from a game of this ilk appropriately accompany the bloodshed. This game certainly earns its “M” rating. Gruesome scenes abound, especially the concluding moments of boss fights…a psychotic, chainsaw-juggling clown impaling himself on his own saws, twitching and gurgling as his blood spews out like a fountain, for instance.

Given the Wii’s hardware limitations, Capcom had to come up with design tricks to give the impression that you’re going up against a sea of zombies when you’re only ever seeing 10, maybe 15 tops, on screen at any given time, and for the most part I think they came up with some good ones. For example, pathways through the mall that were once open in the original X360 version are now roped off or blocked by boxes and other impediments, and thus you are funneled into the single crowd of zombies the game is able to render at one time. This means the Wii version is much more linear, but overall it’s a compromise that had to be made and one that works well in promoting constant action. Another trick used to great effect is a rapid respawn rate. As you mow through zombies, if you turn around you’ll often notice that new zombies have already spawned into the area you just cleared out, effectively generating a sense of being constantly surrounded. To me, the zombie AI also seemed much more aggressive than I remember from the 360 version, which also helped mask the smaller crowd sizes.

Fighting through zombies with a vast arsenal of weapons is tremendous fun, but much like the original version, certain core elements of the game drag the experience down from greatness. On the back of atrocious writing, lazily-acted dialogue that doesn’t even make it into the “so bad it’s funny” class, and plain old uninteresting characters, the game’s familiar zombie outbreak plot comes off as dull and lifeless. Also like before, Chop Till You Drop is rife with far too much backtracking and repetitive “rescue the civilian and escort them to safety” missions that only serve to artificially extend what is already an incredibly brief game. I whizzed through it in around five hours — including optional time killing zombies in different ways just for the fun of it — and really only half that time was spent completing the main case files that progress the story. There are some unlockables, such as an Odd Jobs mode containing individual missions challenging you to kill a mob of zombies with different weapons and stipulations, but unfortunately nothing of true lasting appeal.

Above all else, Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop is a very, VERY fun zombie slasher while it lasts — I can’t emphasize that enough. But sadly, because of the forgettable plot and frequent backtracking it’s not an experience you’ll likely care to revisit once it’s over, so for that reason I suggest you rent it first and go from there.

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Pros:
+ RE4-inspired control scheme works great
+ Diverse range of weapons to experiment with; finding different ways to kill zombies is great fun
+ Solid graphics and sound effects

Cons:
– Awful writing and voice acting
– Too much backtracking and escort mission filler
– Limited lasting appeal

Game Info:
Platform: Wii
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: 2/24/09
Genre: Action/Survival Horror
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!