Up in the posh Capcom suite at Planet Hollywood, we were handed a Wii remote and placed in front of a new preview build of Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop. Now, it is no secret that those of us at Destructoid who have had the opportunity to play various demos of the Wii port up to this point have had less than favorable impressions of it.
Never one to outright dismiss a game, particularly one with zombies, I was willing to give Chop Till You Drop a fair shake. Read on for my impressions of this most recent build to see if I disagree with my compatriots (here's a hint: that's an ellipsis in the title, not an equal sign).
As the demo opened up, Frank was in the security room with Otis, the highly annoying maintenance worker from the original Xbox 360 game. While Otis' role remains largely the same as it was prior, giving information to Frank over radio and alerting the player to missions, the mechanics have changed quite a bit.
As some players found that managing Dead Rising's time-sensitive missions was too difficult (or just discouraging), Chop Till You Drop's missions are handed out directly from Otis. Talking to him opens up a menu with available missions to select from, and you only have to tackle one at a time -- instead of running the risk of killing survivors because you had to drag them along to a dangerous area to get in under a time limit for other endangered citizens.
The mission which was available for us to play is one that I was already quite familiar with from the original game. Twin sisters were being attacked near the toy store, with one outside and surrounded by zombies, while the other hid in the store. While this mission does not take us further than the nearby Paradise Plaza section, the layout of the Willamette Mall looked to be retained. All the shops are exactly where they were previously, though the plaza itself felt a bit more barren and lifeless, with fewer planters and other incidental environmental niceties.
When I say "lifeless," that is no suggestion that we have more zombie action going on than in previous demos and videos. I still never saw more than a dozen zombies at any given time, and zombie corpses melt away upon death to keep as much of the Wii's limited resources available as possible. Now, provided the timeline of Chop Till You Drop remains the same as its predecessor, the mission we played is very early in the game and before the mall becomes truly overrun. Still, it was rather unimpressive and I've never seen anything anywhere to suggest that this is not the standard throughout.
So few zombies might seem easy to deal with, allowing the player to take out immediate threats to the survivors who need rescuing and then either avoid any between the exit or just mow them down to clear a path. If you thought the frustration of getting survivors out would be proportional to the number of undead roaming about, you will be in for a surprise. Hard as it may be to imagine, survivor AI actually seems less competent and the Thompson twins kept running directly into zombies and just standing there while being pummeled to death.
Motion controls are a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, they are managed well by never feeling like they unnecessarily replace button input. Attacking with melee weapons is still handled by pressing a button. Finishing moves make use of waggle and you can do some special attacks with certain weapons by shaking the remote. The problem is that the motions do not feel responsive and attempts to use it met with failure as often as success.
I wanted Chop Till You Drop to be successful in translating the fun of Dead Rising to a new platform. And there are some aspects, such as selectable missions, which will make the game more accessible and comfortable to play. In a way, it's tragic, because they've managed to take a great game for the hardcore and turn it into something clearly intended for the Wii's casual audience. At the same time, if what I've seen today is truly indicative of the final product, there really isn't anyone that I can see actually enjoying this.