WorthPlaying: First of all, can you tell us your name and title?
Robert Hamiter: My name is Robert Hamiter. I’m Publishing Coordinator in Sunnyvale at the Capcom U.S. Headquarters. What we have here is “Dead Rising”, which is coming from Keiji Inafune, Mr. Mega Man himself! I’ll just show you some of the basics and a little bit about the premise behind it. (He starts to play Dead Rising on an X-Box 360) There’s this photo-journalist who finds himself in this town that’s been infested by zombies. He gets trapped in a shopping mall which has all these different stores and items that he’s able to use. He uses them in order to survive and help him rescue other survivors as well. There are some basic squad commands that you can do and a lot of intense combat!
[Robert begins the demo level. Your character, known as Frank, starts off on top of a candy vendor’s cart in an open part of a typical shopping mall. Untypical of a mall, however, is the 50+ zombies lying in wait on the ground beneath! It should be noted that the camera angle allows us to see some of the impressive visuals of the game engine. The camera looks down on Frank. Light streams in from a glass ceiling above, letting in very realistic sunlight. It reflects beautifully off the marble floor below.]
RH: So what they try to do in this game is, in a nutshell, to throw you into this shopping mall. It is a very big sandbox for you to do whatever you want to do. If you want to go to a Sporting Goods shop, get a golf club, and fight some zombies, you can do that! You can go into a hardware store, which I’m about to do right now, and grab items out of there to take out zombies as well!
WP: Don’t forget the baguette in the Grocery Store!
RH: (Laughs) So you played this, huh? As you can see, you have a quick attack with some of these items…and then you also have a charged attack, and this is only for some items of course. You can grab zombies; you can shake them off, pretty much like most any zombie game. You can also do some basic wrestling moves as well!
[In the short period of time Robert has been playing, a large pile of zombie bodies has already accumulated. There is also a HUGE amount of blood on the walls and floor.]
WP: Quick question, does the blood stay?
RH: I think eventually the blood will disappear. This is a Japanese version you’re watching…a TGS (Tokyo Game Show) version. This is a little toned down version, but you can get the gist of it.
WP: In your estimation, what do you think the final ESRB rating for the U.S. version will be?
RH: Definitely Mature. I don’t see it being any worse, but it’s definitely going to be a mature rating. There’s no way that you’re pulling this stuff off and not be mature. It’s not for the squeamish.
[Robert has cut his way thru a large swath of zombies in order to enter the General Store of the Mall. Humorously named “Mac Hardware”, he begins brutalizing the zombies within by means of 2x4 pieces of plywood, broomsticks, and even the store’s cash register! Every time he hits a zombie with the register, a “cha-king” rings out.]
WP: How do you blend the extreme violence that we are clearly seeing here, with the comedic element that we are also seeing? Do you think that both will balance each other out?
RH: Well, there are some are some gory, serious parts but there are some comical elements, just like in this game. (He picks up a parasol, an oversized umbrella, and starts using it to bump zombies out of his way. They react in a confused manner.) For instance, I grab a parasol, and I’m using it to just charge thru waves of zombies. That’s the sort of zany action you have going on here. Also, I’m going to head on over the Hardware Store to show you some interesting elements. You can also just go fisticuffs as well…you can throw blows, you can grab any items in the environment that you want to.
WP: One thing I noticed was that when the zombies grab you, the rumble pad on the new X-Box 360 controller kicks in. Tell us about that.
RH: I don’t have a lot of experience with how it rumbles at this point, but most of the weapons have a rumble element to them. Like I start up the chainsaw, and you get a nice little rumbling effect. If I have the shotgun in my hand, I blast it…BAM! You feel some impact. So, the rumble pack definitely has some type of feedback to whatever you’re doing. (He picks up a large decorative plant.) If I pick up a potted plant, like I just did, and hit somebody…there’s a thud to it. And I like that, there’s some subtleness to it. It doesn’t all feel the same. Some items feel a little heavier when you hit a zombie with them. Some things have a constant rumbling like the chainsaw, or how the shotgun feels like a blasting boomstick when you use it.
WP: In your estimation, do you think that this is going to be one of the first games for the 360 that heavily uses the rumble pack?
RH: That’s a good point. They were showcasing the game “Gears of War” here. CliffyB (Cliff Bleszinski, Lead Designer for Epic Games) actually came by here and was playing it…he was digging this title. I think we both appreciate each other’s work. I think that “Gears” is one of the games that is going to implement the rumble pad really well. I’d like to see what they do with it. Like when you shoot something, it feels like you’re actually firing a weapon. So far I am really pleased with what we’ve got…and this is VERY early what you’re looking at right now.
WP: Now one thing I noticed when I was playing the demo was that you actually use the “Y” button, correct me if I’m wrong, to actually set waypoints for the NPCs in the game. Can you tell us a little about that?
RH: Well, that’s totally up to you. There’s victims who are also in this mall, people who have not been made into zombies yet. You can help them if you want, or you can leave them and let them fend for themselves. Or you can even use them as bait; put them in an open area full of zombies, so that you can get away. Alternatively, you can kill them and take their weapons! It’s totally open-ended, and it depends on what you want to do as a player. If you decide to keep them alive and they’re packing a gun, you can have them follow you…then yeah, that makes a lot of sense. They’re going to help you out. They’re going to shoot any zombies that get close to you. So you might want to keep them alive for extra protection. But everybody can choose their own style now, so you’re free to have at it however you want. There are very basic interaction commands, nothing too complex. You walk up to somebody, you talk to them and after that, they will become your ally. Then you can tell them to follow you, and they will do so.
WP: Now how do you know how many hitpoints, I’ll call them squadmates, have left? Is there any way in the final version for you to know how long they’re going to last before they die?
RH: Oh yes, definitely. (He points to the upper left corner of the screen. Your HP is displayed, while underneath it is those of the NPCs following you.) As you can see up in the upper left-hand corner by my life meter, there are two smaller meters. These are for the two people I just hooked up with. And they’re going to be following me now. Also if you look, notice at how her icon changes while she’s waving. (The female squadmate, a busty blonde, waves to your character. The icon next to her health bar shows her waving as she does this.) When she shoots, her icon will show that she is shooting. If I were to do something messed up like pick her up, look, you can see her get picked up in the air…and the icon changes to show this! Honestly, I didn’t even notice that until this show. I was like “Now that’s comedy! Why is that even necessary?” They just throw that in there, since it is cool to see. I was going to try to see if I could put her down like a weapon, but I can’t, so I guess I’m going to have to toss her. (Both of us laugh.) Don’t worry, she’ll survive.
WP: Running along those same lines, what can we expect to see at E3 2006, and how far after that will be the official launch of the title?
RH: I can’t go into any specific dates, but what I can say is that everything you see here will be much bigger and even better. So far all you can really access in the Mall is the Hardware Store and the Shopping Market. But the final version will be HUGE, full of all kinds of different stores, with even part of the parking lot and surrounding area. There’s a lot of other very comical elements that will be implemented as well. Expect all that and also the character being able to develop more and more skills. I just want to show you something really quickly…I grabbed a bucket, and I can put this thing on a zombie’s head and now he’s good for nothing! (A zombie that he just put a bucket on wanders around. It comically holds its hands out expecting to grab something.) He’s not smart enough to take the bucket off his head, and he’s not able to really do me any harm either. So there’s a lot of weird little things like that. And hitting somebody with a cash register! I don’t know how many games do that, but I think we do it the best! (He beats up half a dozen zombies using a large cash register from the Hardware Store. Every hit is accompanied by a “ka-ching”!)
WP: As I recall, you can also pick up some candy from that little shop outside, can’t you?
RH: You know what? I have not been able to get the candy to come out of that machine. But most things, like inside the Grocery Store, can be picked up and used to beat zombies. Let me just throw this real quick… (He skewers a zombie on the end of a lead pipe. He throws it like a javelin, hitting the zombie squarely in the chest. Blood comes pouring out the end of the pipe like it’s a funnel.)
WP: I was really impressed by some of the details on the weapons you can pick up. Like say, for example, in the Grocery Store you have the broomstick. It might last one or two hits at the most, at which point it splinters. Then, you’ve got the jagged edge of a stick and you can just go around stabbing zombies!
RH: Yes, and that’s something that is really cool. You can pick up a broomstick, you can pick up a crowbar, and if you swung it the same way every time, you’d say “What’s the difference?” Well, in this game, there’s a real difference. For example, what material is each weapon made out of like, and how durable it is? You start off with a lead pipe, it’s probably one of the most durable striking weapons you have in the game, as opposed to the bat which is good but not as durable. Then there’s the broom, which is pretty fragile. A couple of hits and bam! That thing is cracked in half! I just want to show you again the lead pipe that you get. (He pulls it out of the corpse of a fallen zombie.) If you were to hit someone with this, you’ll see the pipe stick in him. That’s a nice strategy. Instead of doing a headshot, you can hit him in the belly with a pipe!
WP: It should be noted that the guy you just hit…there was blood draining out the end of the pipe from his gut!
RH: Exactly! If you sit there long enough, he’ll eventually die. (The zombie flails its arms and falls to the ground.) And I think you saw all the various wrestling moves as well. But there is some pretty gruesome stuff you can do, like the neck-breakers. You have fun old-school wrestling moves like “The Bulldog” and even whirling-dirling grab ‘em by the feet and let ‘em go like an airplane kind of moves!
WP: Nice! So we can expect moves like chokeslams and suplexes?
RH: Well, you just saw the neck-breaker, but you’ll also be able to do a military press, and a few other moves. I’m sure they’re going to keep implementing more since they want him to keep maturing and growing.
WP: So what can you tell us about the various levels in the game? What can we expect to see?
RH: In this demo there’s one main objective, and that is to meet up with a girl who can help explain the zombie infestation. While you’re doing that, you’re running into other people in the mall who are innocents just trying to survive. They can give you side quests. You don’t have to do them, they are optional, you’re not going to fail anything. But you can pick those up and gain some experience from doing them. Some of them are like “I got separated from my brother, can you help me find him?” Or “Get me the hell out of this! I’m backed up in a corner, I can’t escape!” That’s two examples of the optional missions, but then the main mission for this level is the girl. She has information, and can tell you why there’s zombies in town. Once you do get thru this level and you get toward the end, there’s this boss fight. You find the girl chained up, and about to get put into a meat grinder by this wicked, twisted butcher! You have to figure out a strategy on how to take him down. Once you do, you free the girl and she’ll explain to you what you need to know…and it will progress the story. The main thing, which unfortunately you don’t see here, is that your character is a photojournalist. You can see the camera around his neck, but you never see him whip it out and use it (at least not in the demo). So he’s going to be trying to take pictures of all of this, and get a Pulitzer Prize winning story. So he’s going to do everything he can to get to the bottom of this, and get the biggest scoop of the century. Along the way, you’re going to do a lot of mini-games and full-on quests to get to the bottom of the story.
WP: What do you think is going to be the final release date for the game?
RH: You’re trying to do that again? (Laughs.)
WP: Yeah. I’m sure people are going to ask, as they just bought this brand new 360. Here’s a really cool game that’s getting a lot of buzz here at the Zero Hour Event. So, I hate to commit you to it, but this is something that people are bound to ask. You know, they got this new hardware; they’re going to want to play this.
RH: Understandably. It has been received VERY well here. I and my colleagues really like this title. We’re proud of it, but it’s really good to get such good feedback from everybody. Like the people who go out and buy these games and see the feedback that you get from them – and that’s awesome. And also from some of the journalists as well, which is awesome. When it comes to the release date, I got to stick with a vague Spring. But that’s sooner than later, not too much further away.
WP: So we can expect to see something at E3 in 2006?
RH: I would think something playable at that point. But, I can’t commit to that. I would say at that point, we’re probably going to be far along where we can really show what this title has to offer.
WP: Is “Dead Rising” going to be THE Capcom flagship title for the X-Box 360?
RH: Well…if you don’t want to count Resident Evil 5… (Laughing.)
WP: I didn’t know about that! (Also laughing.)
RH: …which won’t be released for a while. So, for 2006, yes, “Dead Rising” is what Capcom is focusing on. Again, Inafune-san, Mr. Megaman. This is his baby, so we’re expecting great things!
WP: Right on! Well thank you so much for the interview Robert!
RH: It’s been my pleasure!
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