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Monday, August 07, 2006

"Dead Rising"; "Ninety-Nine Nights (Xbox 360)

I'm playing the Xbox 360 demos for Dead Rising and Ninety-Nine Nights, and these are in my top 3 played demos so far in the life of the console (Lost Planet, a Capcom title like Dead Rising, is the other one).

Dead Rising

Dead Rising (check out my preview here), the creative zombie chop fest hiding a deeper story, plays about like I expected. That is to say, creatively killing zombies is a lot of fun, and the intro cut scene, and cut scenes that play out when you exit the demo field of play (sporting store, movie theater, or warehouse), hint at a deeper story, as I predicted. And once 7 p.m. hits, hang out for the cutscene showing things are about to get a whole lot worse after dark.

If you stay within the parameters of the game field, the demo only lets you play for 15 minutes at a time. But like the Lost Planet demo, Capcom's produced a solid little playtest. There's a lot to play with and explore, and you can whack zombies with a scythe, hunting knife, pistol, shotgun, flowerpot, stuffed bear, garbage can, nightstick, shopping cart, skateboard, and sundry other objects, including a frying pan. With the frying pan (and other "weapons" and environmental objects), you can "upgrade" -- stick the cast iron skillet on the stove, and it's a lot more lethal for bashing zombie heads. Also, check out the microwave fun ...

And there are character upgrades that let you carry more items, too (though those aren't in the demo).

I really appreciate the options being available in the demo -- I love a demo that gives full access to the game control (inversion, etc.) and settings menus that are in the full game (all demos should allow players to invert if that's applicable; I hate all demos that don't).

The controls themselves are a little wonky. I need to get used to the left trigger being the camera, but more confusing is the right trigger/aiming mechanic, that makes you use the left thumbstick to aim, to super sluggish effect. Given how close last week's demo was released to tomorrow's release, I don't have a lot of confidence this'll be fixed.

In theory, I'm supposed to be receiving a review copy of Dead Rising, but since the same folks sent me the October-released Stubbs the Zombie in December, we'll see. I had really hoped to receive the game in time for last weekend to play and provide timely review, but it was not meant to be.

Ninety-Nine Nights

Ninety-Nine Nights (N3) is getting misbilled as being like Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires, which it's not. That is to say, it doesn't suck (I'm sure I'm pissing off some rabid fanboys, but Dynasty on the Xbox 360 really disappointed me).

N3 is amazing. Racking up 5,000-plus kills, leveling up my character, switching out weapons and accoutrements in an RPG-lite kind of way, and exacting mass carnage on the orcs is a hugely good time. The level of detail is amazing, and I like battling different classes of orcs that actually play differently -- from field fodder to seasoned soldiers to wizard orcs that can do some serious damage. You can even see helmets go flying as you knock them around.

And their troll implementation is a like an adolescent, better realization of a Tolkien rock troll than that franchise's games have had. Seriously. (I'm going to rename this the "Piss off the fanboys" post.)

And ORB attacks rock.

I need to work more on commanding my soldiers, but I can't tell yet if that's because of the controls or my lack of familiarity with the mechanic.

And the voice acting (and appropriate emotional intensity) is seriously below the bar, so I'm hoping the final version -- due this month -- corrects that.

Both Dead Rising and Ninety-Nine Nights are really good demos (and available for free to anyone with an Internet connection), so check them out.

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