Games

'Dead Rising' Does Zombies Right

Dead Rising understands an important fact about zombies that most other zombie games forget, deny, or ignore. Zombies make boring bad guys.

I only beat Dead Rising: Case Zero on my third attempt. In Case Zero, Chuck Green and his zombie-bitten daughter, Katey, get stranded in a small town overrun by the undead. In 12 hours, the military will arrive to wipe them all out, and in that time, Chuck must get Katey a dose of Zombrex to stop her from turning zombie and build a motorcycle to escape the small town.

Zombies play a big role in Dead Rising, but they’re not your main antagonist, which is a good thing because by themselves zombies are boring. They’re slow, stupid, and easy to kill. They may be disgusting, but they’re not particularly scary unless they’re in a horde. The two most popular zombie games, Resident Evil and Left 4 Dead, use zombies as a starting point for horror.

In Resident Evil, these flesh eaters are the first creature we see, but things quickly escalate as we encounter mundane creatures like giant snakes and spiders as well as Lickers, Hunters, and the Tyrant monster. That is until Resident Evil 4 finally got rid of all pretenses and pitted you against the Las Plagas parasite. In Left 4 Dead, the zombies can run, which makes them scarier than normal, but they’re still the least dangerous creature in the game. These games have to keep upping the ante because zombies are the antagonists, the main force keeping you from your goal, but zombies make boring bad guys. More dangerous monsters have to be introduced to keep things exciting.

In Dead Rising, your main antagonist is time. The game throws missions and side missions at you with such a strict time limit that it’s obvious that you can’t do it all. You have to pick and choose what missions to do, and even then, you’re always racing against the clock. The zombies are simply an obstacle, and they make a great obstacle. There’s nothing quite as daunting as seeing a mall packed with zombies shoulder-to-shoulder, knowing you only have five minutes to get through them. If your goal was simply to kill them, that would get old fast, but it’s that fact that we don’t have to kill them and in most cases shouldn’t kill them that makes them scary.

With the strict time limit pushing us forward, we have to balance fighting and running. The more time that you spend killing zombies, the less time you have for missions. The possibility of the zombies eating up my time is scarier than them eating me, and that makes the horde frightening. If I don’t have enough time to kill a zombie, it suddenly becomes strong; it becomes an enemy I can’t kill. Then all I can do is run.

Of the five bike pieces that Chuck has to find in Case Zero, I had a lot of trouble finding the gas tank. My first time through the game I wasted so much time looking around that I failed to get Katey the Zombrex. My second time through the game I got her the drug but was ill equipped to fight off the psycho mechanic that appeared afterwards. I thought that I saw a gas tank on him, so I decided to start over and focus on preparing for that fight because I assumed that he’d drop the part I needed. My third time through the game I killed him, but he dropped nothing.

At this point, I was almost out of time, and I had no clue where to look. I thought about starting over a fourth time, but first I paused the game and analyzed the town map until I had a rather obvious epiphany: The gas tank was probably near the gas station, which was just outside. With precious few minutes left I ran outside, cutting through the zombie horde with a broadsword, and after just a few seconds of searching, I found it sitting in the open -- so obvious and yet so well hidden. I grabbed the gas tank and made a beeline for the garage, backtracking through the path I had just made through the horde.

I didn’t kill any zombies as I ran back to the garage because I knew that I didn’t have time. I felt like I was cutting things so close that I didn’t even check my watch to see just how much time was actually left. Chuck installed the gas tank and escaped just as the military arrived, and I finally beat the game on my third attempt. The ending was so satisfying but not because I found all the parts in time while killing 1000 zombies. It was satisfying because I found all the parts in time despite killing 1000 zombies.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.