The Nail in the Coffin – Part 2: The Digging of the Grave

Frank West surrounded by zombies grabs an axe. "I guess this is a chopping mall," he says aloud.

Frank West surrounded by zombies. “I guess, one could say, that this is a ‘chopping’ mall,” he says aloud. © Capcom 2007

Have you even played Dead Rising? If so, than you know how infinitely frustrating the survivors throughout the entire game can be, how every single minute counts when traversing between scoop mission to scoop mission, and how annoying receiving said scoop mission calls is when dealing with the idiotic survivors, spam-moving psychopaths, and the lunging, kung-fu grips of the zombies of Dead Rising. Playing Dead Rising for the sheer fun of it is indeed engaging, innovative, and exciting. But, if you give yourself an itinerary of achievements to earn while simultaneously checking off the in-game itinerary assigned to you by Brad & Jessie, the two FBI agents whom progress the story’s immersive narrative, and Otis, the aged mall employee in charge of relaying main & side related missions messages by the communicative device of the nearly now obsolete walkie-talkie, than the game can spiral out of control into a three-day in-game countdown of anxiety ridden irritation. Why? Because there is so many things to do in an incredibly narrow of time. But, I felt I could do this. I chose to take on this challenge head on. I chose the impossible… I chose Rapture! I mean, to earn the Saint and Transmissonary achievements in this fifth, and hopefully final run.

My initial run in Dead Rising was an education in the game’s sandbox rules. The three in-game days of seventy-two hours from noon on September 19th to noon on the 22nd roughly translated to a total of six hours in real-time in Willamette. Finishing this initial run I pathetically rescued slightly more than ten survivors. My second run I focused on learning about Dead Rising’s main story. Here I saved more than twenty survivors and earned the “A” Ending which unlocks Overtime Mode. The third run I earned the Real Mega Buster by killing the entire town of Willamette and simultaneously earning the Zombie Genocide achievement. My fourth run with the Real Mega Buster equipped everywhere I went in Willamette mall was much, much easier due to the powerful weapon now attached at my arm. I cleaned up the remaining littler achievements which left seven achievements (ten total if we don’t count the three Infinity Mode achievements) out of fifty still needing to be earned. Having already accrued playing twenty four hours of Dead Rising and realizing that I hadn’t even rescued more than half of the survivors in the mall I concluded that the difficulty of earning these remaining achievements were skewed from the rest.

Oh, what time is it? A half an hour past "it's too late" and five minutes before "I'm totally screwed." © Capcom 2007

Oh, what time is it? A half an hour past “it’s too late” and five minutes before “I’m totally screwed.” © Capcom 2007

When a gamer finishes a video game, they decide if it is worth playing again. It’s pretty common for a gamer to go through a game more than once. If so, than the game has replay value and is mostly considered a characteristic of a great video game. At this time, a gamer then decides what to cross off from their list of to-do’s on this next run. This can include anything from bumping up the difficulty to finding secrets, upgrading the character to farming for points, or earning achievements. Yet, difficulty is what can make or break any game. It’s the heartbeat of any game and it’s that pulse which sets the tone and pace for the rest of the time you play the game. Capcom’s Dead Rising is a wonderful testament to this. The game has intermittent moments of easy and hard, but when you’ve got a plethora of tasks to complete normal difficulty can switch to very hard in a minute in Dead Rising.

A case by case breakdown of your failures. © Capcom 2007

A case by case breakdown of your failures. © Capcom 2007

Obviously, I needed a game guide. Let’s face it, there is only a fraction of gamers out there that have unearthed every secret, searched all possible areas, and unlocked all achievements by themselves and I am not one of those gamers. So, I found a guide that allowed me to earn both the Saint & the Transmissionary achievement in one play through. It suddenly became apparent that while I was rummaging for a guide that I was not the only gamer that had answered everyone of Otis’s calls.

The guide came with a warning of Otis’s sensitive temperament when calling Frank. Otis had four call types: the scoop reference call, the case reference call, the location call, and the survivor request call. The scoop calls was just telling you about survivors & psychopaths, the case calls informed you of the main story’s mission and progress, the location call gave you a reference to the map when you first step foot in a new area, e.g. Wonderland Plaza, Supermarket, maintenance tunnel, and the survivor request in which Otis told you that you had a side mission to complete because you saved a specific survivor and safely returned to the security office, which is the Dead Rising’s malls home base & safe house.

But, on top of this the Transmissionary achievement exponentially became more and more complicated. A certain number of survivors had to be in the same room as the survivor who was requesting something, if not you’d miss a call and miss the achievement. Another complication was that you cannot have more than 8 (possible) survivors active or else Otis would not call and you’d miss the achievement. And finally, if you were in the same area of the mall when & where a scoop activated, than Otis would not call and you’d miss the achievement. I suddenly had a crash course in Dead Rising’s most unnecessarily complicated and sensitive achievement.

The "Survivor Chart" of Dead Rising. 54 possible survivors, 0 intelligent AI. © Capcom 2016

The “Survivor Chart” of Dead Rising. 54 possible survivors, 0 intelligent AI. © Capcom 2016

I knew that my task of acquiring the two hardest achievements at the same time in the game was ambitious, but that’s me. I fired up the game and started with all pistons firing. The first six survivors are integral to the Dead Rising main plot and are somewhat out of my hands. The next six are easy collections as you run around the mall learning the paths to and from the safe room. You’ll find some paths are temporarily blocked and other paths are filled with escaped prison convicts, who tear through the mall park in a weaponized Hummer.

Then you meet Leah, a woman that walks slower than a baby crawls, who needs to be helped. Greg is a survivor of the first psychopath boss, Adam the Clown, who shows you a shortcut that saved me an unbelievable amount of time. Only being roughly 13 in-game hours deep, this juggling act of main-mission cases/scoops and side-mission scoops, and making sure to answer all of Otis’s calls was becoming cumbersome. But, I was doing it! I reviewed the guide to make sure that I had been doing everything correctly. I made split decisions on when & where I would receive location calls to be more efficient with my time. For example, I wouldn’t go to North Plaza until the Hatchet Man scoop at 8 AM on the 20th or go to the maintenance tunnel until Case 7.2 and so on and so forth. I would save at any chance I could get because it seemed like the smart thing to do. I continued on running around picking up survivors such as Yuu, Shinji, David, Tonya, Ross, and slaying psychopaths like Cliff and Steven to progress my story and to collect more survivors.

The time in the game flew: 6 AM the 20th, 1 PM the 20th, 8 PM the 20th, 1 AM on the 21st, 8 AM on the 21st. I had escorted everyone from the sisters, Heather & Pamela to Susan during this time period, stopping psychopaths such as Jo, Roger Hall and his two sons, Sean, The Leader of the “True Eye” cult, and Paul, a then-psychopath now reformed survivor. I became better at juggling the brainless survivors through the zombies and cultists. In the main story missions, or cases, I befriended the chopper riding psychopath, Isabella, learned about Professor Barnaby, a man who had something to do with Santa Cabeza which involved Carlito, Dead Rising’s main antagonist, and carried Isabella back to the security office because Carlito had turned on her which was an excellent twist in plot development. I had arrived at Case 7.1 and received the 32nd scheduled call from Otis. I was well on my way to earning the remaining achievements in Dead Rising with only 7 calls from Otis, 1 survivor to escort, and 4 survivor requests left to complete. It was so close, I could feel that dopamine building up for that audible “badoink.” I saved there, but I shouldn’t have.

Case 7.2 is where I had previously decided to combine the location call of the maintenance tunnel & the 7.2 case reference call from Otis. In Case 7.2: The Bomb Collector, Frank must travel to the maintenance tunnel to collect bombs that Carlito has rigged to explode and infect the rest of the United States. As I entered the maintenance tunnel, Otis called to inform me of the case as I drove around collecting these bombs, if not done within the the amount of time given the game would end and I’d earn the “F” Ranking of Dead Rising. So, I started collecting bombs with very little time to spare, but I did it. But, something was amiss. Otis was not calling me to tell to inform me that I was in the maintenance tunnel. Was I supposed to go somewhere specific I thought? Should it not be during a case?

I began to panic a bit. I had already saved, if Otis was not going to call now for this location, my guess is that he wouldn’t ever and I’d be shit out of luck. So, I finished up the case where the game transported me in the parking lot beside the tunnel. I went back into the tunnel and Otis did not call. I ran around, opened the warehouse door and collected a key, snapped a photo of the now-dead Brad, who had attempted to help you out on Case 7.2 but, no call ever came. I finished out the main story missions, crossed off all the side-mission scoops, and swung in on a chandelier and safely escorted the remaining survivors of the Willamette mall to the security office where I had saved 50 people earning the Saint achievement. Yet, the Transmissionary achievement never popped.

It wasn’t until a little later, I read online that Otis only gives the location call of the maintenance tunnel if you travel there before Case 7.2 becomes active. I was upset because that seemed ridiculous that that would be the case, no pun intended, but nevertheless it was. I was defeated and agitated that I had spent 30 hours trying to earn one single achievement. I was exhausted from all five runs. So, I put Dead Rising on my video game shelf and ignored it until six years later…

The next Nail in the Coffin article better be the last or we're going to go nuts! © Capcom 2007

The next ‘Nail in the Coffin’ article better be the last or we’re going to go nuts! © Capcom 2007

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