When I acquired my Xbox 360, it came bundled with a handful of games to start me up, including Dead Rising. With its absurd concept and tight gameplay, Dead Rising was easily the best of the bunch.
Developed and published by Capcom, Dead Rising hosted zombies at an expedient time that took advantage of a then-establishing trend. Trust me, there was a time when zombies were still new, and games featuring them were considered brilliant. It’s not that their subject matter was not new, especially to a studio like Capcom who had been involving zombies in their games since the first Resident Evil. An open world game, however, that put you in the shoes of a photojournalist who crafts all sorts of bizarre, laughter-inducing weapons as he covers the zombie outbreak? Genius.
The sequel was, for all intents and purposes, a bigger and better game. Though the loved protagonist Frank was replaced, he was brought back for the spin-off Dead Rising 2: Case West.
Now, 10 years later, Capcom has released an almost expected 10th anniversary bundle. Is it just a quick cash-grab that deserves to be a feast for the undead, or will this remaster outrun the horde? Pick up your chainsaws and spike up your baseball bats; we have some zombie brains to smash.
The neat thing about this anniversary bundle is that it combines three games for the price of one: Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2, and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. This is perfect for the uninitiated gamer who is still waiting on the sidelines to discover what the big deal with this franchise is.
All three games have retained their entertainment factor and offer enough of a difference for you to reprise your roles as Frank West and Chuck Greene, a former biking champ. That said, it is worth noting that Off the Record is a carbon copy of the sequel but with Frank as the protagonist instead of Chuck.
Narrative was never the main selling point for this franchise, but for those of you interested enough, here is a quick run-through.
In the first game, you assume the role of Frank West, a photojournalist who flew into Willametter, Colorado to be the first person to cover the zombie outbreak. He finds himself trapped inside a mall with his sole purpose being to grab some juicy pics and get out alive. Sadly he has a specific time to be rescued and he also has to aid and seek aid from other survivors in order to fulfill his mission.
The sequel on the other hand puts you in control of a Former biking champ Chuck Greene. He is part of a reality TV show that has him kill zombies to amass enough funds. Chuck needs the prize money to buy Zombrex, a daily medication that suppresses the zombification process, for his daughter Katey, who was bitten by her zombified mother during a previous outbreak in Las Vegas when she was only 4 years old.
Now with both plots out of the way, let us get into the meat and potato of the games. Your goals are to survive, help survivors along the way, kill as many zombies as you can, and uncover the truth. Time constraints and limited saving abilities add an extra challenge to the games, but this added depth and longevity keeps them interesting for multiple playthroughs, especially if you intend to witness all endings for yourself.
At the heart of these games is the zombie-killing action that defines this franchise. Zombies are sluggish, inviting you to eviscerate them in any way your heart pleases. But don’t let that make you take them for granted. They are weak and useless, but their numbers are staggering, and you’ll find yourself swarmed by them soon enough.
If half the entertainment is presented by the the zombie mayhem, the weapons take care of the other half. You are not restricted to run-of-the-mill blades and guns; Dead Rising is all about crafting the craziest weapons with the most absurd and nonsensical add-ons.
Using a workbench, you can strap on knives to a boxing glove, dynamite to an American football, chainsaws to a paddle…the blueprints are plentiful, and your creativity is borderline limitless. You will come up with newer and crazier ways to deal with the zombies with every playthrough.
The Dead Rising games do not take themselves seriously which is why the franchise has garnered a following of die-hard fans who fervently await every new release. One look at some of the outfits you may adorn or the weapons you may wield and it will be evident that this is not your average zombie romper.
Sadly, and no matter the entertainment factor, all three games are from the past decade and are marred with nostalgia. It’s a wonder why Capcom didn’t just remaster these games at 4K to keep them alive through the upcoming console cycle. At 1080p, 60fps, they all run nicely, but I can’t but feel that there was a missed opportunity here.
Additionally, nothing has been modified or updated. While die-hard fans will appreciate the purism, I’m sure a big number of gamers who had never played these games may be disappointed and think that the franchise is over-hyped. You still can only save in bathrooms, some fights are still frustrating, let alone the aging mechanics, and Dead Rising 2 still seems to struggle with frame-rate drops.
Why didn’t Capcom just release all prequels and add-ons? Why leave out Case Zero and Case West? Questions like this almost demand an answer as their ommission from a ten-year anniversary bundle makes no sense to me. I understand that both were Xbox 360 exclusives, but were those agreements permanent or developed with the help of Microsoft?
Dead Rising is a solid series, with the 3rd one being a decent game and the 4th just around the corner. Going back through memory lane to experience where the series began was certainly a fun experience. Though this remastered bundle received a slight face lift, it’s not enough of a change to turn nonbelievers into fans.
Though still playable and enjoyable in their own right, the small visual upgrades, the lack of fine tuning, the absence of either of the two prequels, and the fact that no extras, save for the costumes, were included, unfortunately is evidence that Capcom showed very little love to this bundle, and targeted the much smaller, dedicated fanbase.
Dead Rising 10th Anniversary Edition is available for PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One. A review code was made available to us via Capcom.