When I started up Dead Rising, to be honest the very last thing on my mind was the possibility of writing an article for RPGSite. That's one of the problems with being the Editor-in-Chief of a site solely dedicated to Role Playing Games -- you only get to cover that type of games.
So, the levelling and stat-building is certainly similar to RPGs. What about other elements of Dead Rising that are reminiscent of the RPG genre? My next thought is Otis, his transceiver, and the survivors. Through a walkie-talkie, a character called Otis tells you of survivors he sees around the mall on the security camera system. Some are absolutely insane, and need killing, while others need saving and returning to the safe haven of the security room. Why like an RPG? It's very reminiscent of side quests in RPGs -- they're all totally optional. You can save nobody, or you can try to save everybody -- the choice is yours -- and we all know that choice and sidequests are a major element in any RPG.
Most games of the same pedigree as Dead Rising allow you to customise your character how you want, but in Dead Rising you have to play as Frank West, no matter how you customise your hair or clothing, which is something which Japanese-made RPGs do consistently unlike their Western counterparts.
Of course, many elements of Dead Rising point in the opposite direction -- the general action game feel of the engine and a relatively short main plot do keep the game feeling like an action game, but perhaps this is the first of what will be many new age RPGs.
Dead Rising certainly has RPG elements. The official Genre Capcom gives it is "Action Horror", but now I find myself wondering if Action RPG, or Horror Action RPG would better describe what's on the disk. Personally, I would say Dead Rising has enough RPG elements to be considered (if only loosely) an RPG in its own right, and that's why I've written this article.
If Dead Rising shows anything it's that the RPG genre is changing rapidly, and more and more games on the market can fit the description of what makes up an RPG. Could the Neo-RPG -- new, broader styles of RPG for a broader demographic of gamers be knocking on our door this generation? Only time will tell.