It’s about one o’clock. I have thirty minutes to get across the mall because my new friend Otis told me to be there on time. I’m panicking because I’m low on food and there are heaps of zombies coming my way, blocking all exits. There’s one bullet left in my handgun. No, this isn’t a write-up of my recent weekend experiences, this is my return to Capcom’s zombie beat em’ up, Dead Rising.
I grew up with a love of zombie games, from Resident Evil to Stubbs the Zombie. But no game had ever come close to Capcom’s Dead Rising. There was something so satisfying about being able to fight off hordes of zombies with a woman’s handbag that you couldn’t really find anywhere else. It was the game that eventually persuaded me to nag my parents to get me an Xbox 360 when I was about 12 years old.
The Dead Rising series puts you in an open-world environment and lets you use almost any item, be it a sledgehammer or a guitar, to kill zombies. There are also boss battles and other survivors which you can rescue for bonus points. At the time of release, the game received a lot of criticism for its in-game timer, which soon became part of its legacy, remaining in all future titles until the fourth. To me this feature was the core of the experience. It meant you couldn’t just roam around a sandbox world with lots of time to kill if you wanted to progress. The fact that you could miss any story developments if you took too long saving a survivor or defeating a boss was refreshing. A lot of open-world sandbox games often put the protagonist at the centre of everything, so having this lingering presence of deadlines made the game feel more alive to me.
A lot of people also hated the game for its friendly AI, which was horrendous even by 2006 standards. There were times you’d be escorting a survivor back to the safe house and have to constantly rescue them from perils such as diving head-first into a crowd of zombies, or getting stuck on a plant in the middle of an open area. This was the kind of issue you just had to accept and work-around, as frustrating as it was. Being a highly tolerant teenager, I’m amazed I managed to let it slide at the time.
The remaster arrives ten years later. It’s handled by QLOC, the Polish team behind the DmC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition. Jumping back in, I already noticed many familiar quirks and bugs that made me love and hate the game. This version of the game delivers on a promise of 60fps, with a resolution of 1080p. While this was obviously much-needed for the current-gen versions, the textures aren’t actually redesigned. I’m instead viewing 720p textures in 1080p, which makes a lot of things look slightly uglier. The survivor AI is still atrocious, in fact it seems worse in some places, possibly as result of the framerate boost. I had one character get stuck running into a wall, and I couldn’t actually budge him to move somewhere else.
There are also now five save slots instead of one, which was another thing people didn’t like about the original. Personally, I think this cheapens the experience a bit. The danger of the in-game timer is alleviated if you make use of the multiple save slots, but I guess you don’t have to use them if you want to be a Dead Rising purist. I definitely didn’t.
The technical options are probably the best part of the new stuff in this remaster. The graphics options menu is limited but lets you choose your framerate, resolution and vertical sync among other things. In regards to actual graphics options, these are a little more limited. The only real options you get are anti-aliasing and shadow quality, and it looks like there is no way to change the FOV or LOD. If you’re using a gamepad, you’re unfortunately stuck with four different layouts which mostly adhere to the original’s controller setup. One workaround for this would be to use a third-party program (or Steam’s system if you own the Steam Controller). If you use a keyboard and mouse, you’re given more flexibility, able to rebind any key you want to.
One thing I noticed is that it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into the game. Steam tells me I currently have 55 hours played and I’m still going back for more. It could just be a nostalgia thing, which is something I definitely considered while writing this review. At its core, the Dead Rising formula is still incredibly fun and this remaster acts as a great opportunity to introduce new players to the series. It’s definitely a flawed game by today’s standards, but I don’t want to knock a remaster for sticking to its roots and not bloating itself with unnecessary changes which may or may not upset hardcore Dead Rising fans like myself. You’re ultimately getting a largely similar experience to the one everyone else got ten years ago.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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