Dead Rising has always held a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first Xbox 360 games I got my hands on, roughly ten years ago. And with the current spate of games being remastered and given backwards compatibility on the Xbox One, I figured it would be only a matter of time before I made my way back to hang out with Frank West, and Chuck Greene.
Unfortunately, when you remove the veil of ten years worth of good will nostalgia, it’s pretty clear that these games don’t hold up. When compared to Dead Rising 3, which debuted on the Xbox One, it’s clear that it’s more than just the graphics that have evolved over time in the series.
If you managed to miss Dead Rising, the original game takes place in a town called Willamette, inside a giant mall. The whole place has been taken over by zombies, and photojournalist Frank West is there to get the scoop. Unexpectedly, and much like the George Romero films that Dead Rising takes so many cues from, it all goes to hell pretty quickly and Frank is left to deal with not only the zombies, but crazed survivors, shady government agents and would-be bio-terrorists.
There’s a lot to like here – the environment of the mall is still as perfect as it ever was for this kind of game, with varied and interactive world full of hundreds of way to kill zombies and a lot of fun to be had along the way. But looking at it from our vantage point in 2016, we can really see the controls are clunky at best, and aggravating at worst, the save system is painfully obtuse, and the constant escort missions of getting dumb survivors to safety is truly tedious. I spent countless hours on this game ten years ago, but technology and gameplay have moved on, and I found little reason to hang around in Willamette again.
The same can be said of Dead Rising 2 – with motocross star and father of the year Chuck Greene doing his best to contend with these same zombies, in Fortune City (read: Las Vegas knock-off). This one has aged a little better, especially with the ability to make some truly insane fusion weapons that made the original game so superb, and the graphics holding up a little better than I expected. There’s still plenty of enjoyment to get out of this one too, but once you start finding yourself dealing with humans using assault rifles, the cracks begin to show and you remember how irritating the controls make this game.
The same can be said for the third Dead Rising to be included in this triple pack, the non-canon Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, which depicts a world in which Frank West finds himself in fortune city rather than Chuck Greene. This has an entirely new story and cutscenes, but is set in the same location, so feels more like really excellent DLC than it’s own standalone game, so the same problems remain.
Dead Rising games will always be fun to return to briefly, but it’s hard to imagine sitting down and committing a couple of dozen hours to replaying games that perhaps should never have been raised from the dead. If you’re up for killing zombies in a comedic and silly way, or you never got the chance to play the originals, this is a fine place to jump in. But it’s certainly not the remaster to redefine your love of the series – in fact, it might just ruin fond memories.
Released: September 2016
Platforms: Xbox One
Publisher: QVS Software