This review has been written in a rage. We're hoping the process of writing down everything that has annoyed us about Capcom's zombie-slaying romp will be like going to see a therapist - by the end we'll have purged all that negativity and we'll come to a rational conclusion. Here goes.
Dead Rising should be brilliant, but it's not. That's what annoys us most about Chop Till You Drop. Look at what it's got going for it. It comes from Capcom, the same company that brought us the magnificent Resident Evil 4 and uses the same point-and-shoot control scheme, game engine and basic premise (running around killing zombies, basically).
Let's Talk Chop
It's got a great sense of humour too. Plunging a spinny-drill type thing into a zombie results in your impaled foe spinning around and around
on your weapon of choice, spraying blood everywhere. Nice. Similarly amusing is the ability to dress up your character, the grumpy photojournalist Frank West, to make him look a bit stupid, which is always a winner in our eyes. It's got loads of different weapons, too - you can pick up and swing about a surprising amount of stuff to keep the undead at bay, and a lot of the items raise a smile.
So why hasn't Chop Till You Drop claimed a Gold Award with ease? Let us explain. The mall you're stuck in is - obviously - infested with shuffling, bloodthirsty zombies. But we'd like to meet the fool who decided to throw zombiefied parrots and poodles into the mix and give them one hell of a Chinese burn. We're all for a bit of variety where zombie-slaying is concerned, but both of these new additions to Dead Rising since its original outing on the Xbox 360 appear from nowhere and attack without giving you any chance to react. The first clue you get that either of these little blighters are approaching is a squawk or growl. The next is usually once they've taken a bite out of you. Having fought your way across the mall taking out countless 'standard' zombies with glee, it's utterly infuriating to have an enemy that you haven't even seen take the last slither of your life meter.
Even if you're in relatively good health, these fast moving, smaller enemies are a nightmare to actually fix your sights on. The poodles are often too fast or too close to your legs to actually target, and the parrots are so hard to see and swoop past you so quickly that they've usually taken a couple of bites off you before you finally take 'em down.
Other annoying elements: You can't jump over stuff, so while the mall is very open-plan, you're forced to run down predetermined routes designed to cram you in with the zombies - a pretty cheap trick. There are night-time sections where it gets so dark we had to turn the brightness on our TV up to maximum just to see where on earth we were going. And while it was the saving grace during this blackout, the big arrow at the top of the screen nullifies any real need to learn the layout of the mall. This reduces the missions to a straightforward dash in the prescribed direction.
Progression through the game is also pretty repetitive. There's an awful lot of running to and fro, usually to fetch survivors, items or hunt down bosses. All this is done from a safe area, which means you run down the exact same corridors a zillion times. And it doesn't help that even if you take out a room full of zombies, there's no continuity whatsoever. They simply respawn once your back is turned. A couple of times they've even respawned right in front of our very eyes. In the end you just decide run past them, knowing they're a waste of ammo, until you get to a tougher bit. If you're keen on playing for several hours and getting immersed in the whole process, you're in for a real disappointment. Chop Till You Drop is definitely one for playing in short bursts.