The video game zombies of Resident Evil and Dead Rising are equally undead and equally at ease with chewing on your neck.
There are differences, though, in the shambling hordes of these two popular series from Capcom. I recently asked creators of each to define what makes their zombies different.
First, a zombie perspective from Yasuhiro Seto, director of the upcoming Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and a veteran of the RE series:
"The dead rising zombies are more there to enable the humor and the parody and the different kind of silly things you can do. They're a toy to play with. Resident Evil zombies, at their heart, they are scary. They should be kind of a threat at some point in the game."
Sounds right. And here's Jason Leigh, executive producer of this fall's Dead Rising 2: Off the Record and a veteran of the DR games:
"Dead Rising zombies are dumb. [laughs] They're dumb and they're slow and they're sort of classic 70s or 60s zombies. They just sort of wander around. One of the great things about Dead Rising is that it's horror — because it's zombies — but it's also dark humor. It's slapstick.
"They kept pushing back, [saying] 'Can you embarrass them and treat them as play things?'"
"One of the things the Capcom Japan guys told us right from the beginning when we were developing Dead Rising 2 is that it's not a game about killing zombies, necessarily. It's a game about interacting with zombies. And any time we went toward 'How many ways can we kill them?' they kept pushing back with 'How many ways can you toy with them?' 'Can you embarrass them and treat them as play things?' Once we finally got that... that's what made the game so fun and captured what they did with Dead Rising 1."
Some zombies are vicious. Some are comedy props.
Some zombies should scare you. Others should be scared of the giant stuffed bear you're about to hit them with.
Next time you're running away from a Resident Evil zombie or preparing to hit a Dead Rising one with a paddle, you can be sure of these distinctions. The Resident Evil zombie is there to killed. The Dead Rising one is there to be humiliated. I know which one I'd rather face.