Preview: Rock of the Dead

Rock of the Dead is unapologetically The Typing of the Dead meets Rock Band. As Bryan Jury, CCO of developer Epicenter Studios and producer on the game, put it, "People already own the plastic. We're just giving them a different type of game to play with it." And an on-rails shooter where one uses the guitar or drum peripheral already in close proximity to their entertainment center is certainly different.

Gameplay is what you'd expect from some cracked out House of the Dead mod: creatures of death come toward the screen constantly as the camera moves on rails and it's your job to fret (or drum) the undead to un-undeath. Epicenter believes that the title is compatible with most major guitar and drum peripherals. It's also in the process of testing beyond the Guitar Hero and Rock Band peripherals that many already own.
The game will be available this fall for Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3. However, Rock of the Dead looks like a Wii title, even on the more powerful consoles. It's jarring when you play because the graphics are something ripped out of time. A game that might have been on the Dreamcast back in the day -- you know, if everyone had a stack of plastic peripherals in their house back then to play it.

With an expected price of $40, the lacking graphics don't stand out as being too horrifying. With the game about 85 percent done at this point, it's not something that's going to improve in this first Rock of the Dead. It's a good thing that while playing you're too focused on the colors popping on screen to notice the character models and textures.

John Sahas, lead designer on the title, used to work at Neversoft and told us, "It's cool to do something different." He had worked on plenty of Activision's Guitar Hero games during his day. "We see a lot of room to grow [with Rock of the Dead]," Sahas told us, mentioning how there could "potentially" be DLC for the game.

With our hands-on session taking place outside in a well-trafficked area during the madness of E3, it was very hard to hear Rob Zombie's music or Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day's voice work in the game. What we can definitely tell you is that the game holds up even when you can only see this rhythm game and can't hear anything from it.

Epicenter and publisher UFO Interactive are "looking at" an October 5 release. So, don't fret and prepare to "hammer-on" the demons of the night later this year.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.