This year marks the 10th anniversary of Capcom’s slightly sillier zombie game series. Dead Rising released back in 2006 for the Xbox 360, putting tongue firmly in cheek as you marched through impressively large hordes of zombies, smacking them in the head with whatever you could lay your hands on in a shopping mall.
As well as having Frank West return to where it all started this Christmas on Xbox One – and next Christmas on PS4 – Capcom have decided to revisit and remaster all previous games from the last generation. These three games are out today for PS4, Xbox One and PC, both separately and as a bundle.
Like in any good horror movie, we decided to split up and investigate…
Dead Rising 1
Just seeing the Willamette Mall fade into view at the title screen brings back some great memories. As Frank West flies in on a chopper in search of a big story it’s safe to say that the sense of excitement and trepidation comes in equal measure. Having played the original version at launch I remember the repeated runs through the mall, I remember the repeated deaths at the hands of the zombie hordes, but I also remember the sheer joy of mowing hundreds of zombies down with a sit-on lawnmower.
As a huge Capcom fan the release of Dead Rising was essential, with it being amongst the first 360 titles to really pull off having huge numbers of characters on screen. I don’t think anything could have prepared me though for its tough take on Dawn Of The Dead’s iconic premise, with the clock-watching gameplay making a tense game even more fraught.
The new 1080p presentation makes everything crisp and clear, and while the character models and textures are clearly the product of an early entry in the last generation, they retain Capcom’s innate sense of design. It also all runs flawlessly as well – of course it should do, but you can never take these things for granted.
Seeing the world through Frank West’s lens lends it an extra voyeuristic edge, and the picture-taking sub-game remains a wonderful distraction – and putting cones on zombie’s heads in an effort to get the perfect shot will never get old. It’s a feature that was sorely missing from the second game, but will certainly return in Dead Rising 4.
Dead Rising really does have it all. A compelling setting, a tight narrative, a sense of fun, and truck loads of action. This re-release only confirms just how good it really was, and a decade later, despite the tough challenge, it still stands up as one of the best zombie games of all time.
– Dom L
Dead Rising 2
Maybe it’s a little fitting that I should pick up Dead Rising 2 from the trio of games in the Dead Rising Collection. Unlike Dom and Miguel, my only experience with the series has been with Dead Rising 3 and Nick Ramos as a lead character. With Dead Rising 4 on the horizon and Frank West returning once more, I was curious why Chuck was left to only have one game to his name.
It’s actually a little bit difficult for me to take a step back to Dead Rising 2, especially without the nostalgia from playing the originals. The remaster is a fine effort, it runs smoothly, it looks nice and clean – though I’d have liked to see more of the cutscene shaders, shadowing and detail extended into the main game – it can happily throw huge hordes of zombies up on screen, letting you figure out how to skirt past them or fight through them. That remains quite impressive, but there’s lots of things that feel dated.
The crafting system that Dead Rising 2 introduced relied on benches, but its sequel let you craft things on the fly, just holing up in a corner for a few seconds. This game also avoids getting too crazy too soon, but rewards players who explore the many shops and side areas with the tools to combine for themselves, without relying on levelling up to find Combo Cards. The truly ostentatious is still out of reach for me, but even just picking up a long sword from a display case or grabbing a chainsaw makes for some entertaining and bloody carnage.
Then there’s the lack of NPC dialogue throughout much of the game, generally falling back to plain text boxes outside of cutscenes, which makes some of the interactions awkward to keep tabs on when in the middle of a big scrum of walking dead.
The biggest flaw that I’ve noticed – beyond simply feeling a little bit dated, that is – is that the game refuses to load past the Capcom splash screen if I have my PS4 connected to the internet, hanging as it tries to connect to servers. This will presumably be cleared up by launch as the servers are properly brought online.
But back to Chuck and his story. He’s not the most exciting of characters, is he? What helps keep things interesting are the characters and the conspiracy unfolding around him. I can definitely understand Capcom returning to Frank West again for Dead Rising 4, but I’m still having plenty of fun in this game, despite its quite apparent age.
– Stefan L
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record
I’ve played a lot of video games with a lot of people over the years, and I’ve made plenty of memories through all those games, but one of my most vivid multiplayer gaming memories involves Dead Rising 2: Off The Record. My best friend and I, at home on a stormy New York City night, played the game online together deep into the night, with the roaring thunder and pattering rain startling us every now and then.
Off The Record was one of the most fun co-op experiences I’ve ever had, so being able to revisit it on the PS4 was a notable moment for me. It took a minute to get started on that moment due to some awkward server issues that prevented me from launching the game, but once I got in, it was like I was reliving that same stormy night.
This is a re-release that doesn’t mess with the formula one bit. This game took Dead Rising 2 and reimagined its story with Frank West in place of Chuck Greene, mixing the original character with the sequel’s crafting. Whatever you liked about the game is still there, from the wealth of weapons and armour to the intense music and the huge crowds of zombies.
Framerate issues are virtually nonexistent, with the game running smoother than it ever felt on PS3. Graphics have been boosted to 1080p, and while everything seems a bit crisper and cleaner, there really isn’t any mindblowing redone texture or model work on display here. It would have been nice to push it just a little bit further, but the zombie count looks like it’s identical to last-gen.
Off The Record holds a special place in my heart, and it’s a game I’ve wanted to revisit for a long time. This current-gen port doesn’t add anything flashy or mindblowing, but it gives me an excuse to return to that zombie-infested mall, and in the end, that’s all I need.
– Miguel M