A Frankenstein monster that is one part Resident Evil and one part Dead Rising.
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop is an odd title. The game is a Wii conversion of the 2006 Xbox 360 title Dead Rising. The story, featuring photojournalist Frank West, has not changed, and the Willamette Mall, the setting of the original, is also present and unchanged. Unlike the original, though, Chop Till You Drop is a linear title in which all of the missions from the original (both side and main) have been strung together back-to-back to provide a new gaming experience. While this change seems fairly harmless, its effect is quite profound.
Before I explore Chop Till You Drop, it is worth mentioning what makes the original game so endearing. Dead Rising is a sandbox-style game that has an array of mandatory missions and a wide variety of side missions that you are informed of via walkie-talkie, such as rescuing trapped people in the mall. In addition to the open-ended mission structure, players are able to lift nearly every single item in the mall and use it as a weapon against your undead foes. With such an extensive selection of items, the game adopts primarily melee-centric gameplay. Finally, the game included the element of photography as a secondary means of increasing Frank's experience level, giving the game yet another freeform element.
The Wii port has downgraded the original's controls, removing Frank's jumping and photography abilities (an odd choice considering he is still a photojournalist). While the absence of photography is nearly negligible, jumping is sorely missed because it offered an extra element of exploration, a second set of moves for dispensing of zombies, and a maneuver for avoiding a zombie attack. The most profound change, though, are the guns, which play a much more dominant role now in comparison to the original's melee-centric fighting mechanics.
Players familiar with Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition will feel right at home with Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop, as the game is built off of the same engine. Thus, inventory management (via an equip/unequip pause menu) is handled similarly, and just like the zombies in Resident Evil 4, the Dead Rising zombies now drop health, ammo, and money, which is displayed on the screen with the familiar colored cylinder of light. The game's camera has even been brought in over Frank's shoulder, and the controls found in the original Dead Rising have been scrapped in favor of the Resident Evil 4 control scheme.
The changes are both good and bad. As one would expect, with so many alterations, the two games feel very different from one another, regardless of the fact that they are supposedly the same game. As mentioned earlier, a major appeal of the original Dead Rising was the sandbox-style gameplay; in Chop Till You Drop, the game has you on such a tightly linear leash that players will rarely venture outside of the safe room between missions to simply roam the mall. The control changes work well enough; however, they feel overly clunky and can often cause problems in missions. The close camera, combined with the slow turning speed, ensures that players will be successfully attacked by enemies from behind on a regular basis, which is an issue not present in the first game.
The game's downgraded visuals also play a part in changing the general feel of the game. The mall is devoid of hoards of zombies, instead merely featuring small clumps of overly aggressive zombies. Combined with the inability to jump, this just makes the game feel even more scripted. Not only do the visuals impact gameplay, but they are downright distracting to look at. The game is a blurry mess, featuring many low polygon models and poor resolution textures.
Aurally, Dead Rising has not changed much. Though players won't hear quite as many angry zombies groaning in the hallway, the background Muzak and fitting sound effects set the stage well, giving the mall a very real feel. Just as in the 360 original, the in-game dialog easily stands out as the worst sound feature in the game. Awkward pauses and oddly narrated lines, in addition to the poor overall script, can make watching cut-scenes nearly unbearable.
Just as the majority of the Wii game has been altered, the unlockables you earn upon completing the game have also been modified, though this time it is for the better. Rather than unlocking the overall boring Infinite Mode from the original, players unlock Odd Jobs, a collection of missions that require running around the Willamette Mall to do … odd jobs. These include things like fighting off a hoard of immortal zombies for a set amount of time, or defeating a collection of close-quarter zombies in an elevator. After a few Odd Jobs missions are completed, players will unlock Second Amendments, a sniper mini-game which also features a number of missions. With the Wii Remote controls, this mini-game is moderately enjoyable for a little while.
Wii gamers looking to finally experience the critically-acclaimed gameplay of Dead Rising will be sorely disappointed with Chop Till You Drop. The many changes made to the original formula in order to use the Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition engine totally transforms the game into something new. Limited controls and technology, as well as the sandbox-less gameplay, have made the title into an average, linear zombie-killing experience. That said, the Resident Evil 4 controls provide a reasonably fun experience, even if it doesn't stand out in any way from the crowd. Wii gamers without access to an Xbox 360 are best off giving this game a rental to see what the fuss is all about, while others who have already experienced the original should skip this version.