Dead Rising Remastered

dead-rising-header

There’s a quote from The Office’s Dwight Schrute that I think about a lot. “Nostalgia,” he says, “is truly one of the great human weaknesses”. After 28 hours spent with the remastered version of Dead Rising, I have to say it’s ringing pretty true; the PC port of one of my all-time favourite games skated over problems both old and new thanks in no small part to a sizeable pair of rose-tinted glasses.

For the uninitiated, the original Dead Rising is a third-person survival horror game, released for the Xbox 360 back in 2006. In an affectionate homage to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, you spend three days trapped in a shopping mall filled with zombies and stocked with all of the food and weapons you need to get to the bottom of the mystery behind the outbreak. The gratuitous violence and B movie plot run the risk of the game taking itself too seriously, but they’re blended with the requisite bleak sense of humour to ensure that the end result is nothing short of joyful.

Dead Rising was a huge hit, selling over a million copies and spawning a number of sequels to a generally positive reception, even amid (not at all unfounded) criticism as the series began to stray from the core mechanics of the original. Although the tricky game timer (designed in tandem with persistent levelling to encourage multiple playthroughs) and harsh save system alienated a number of players, to me the difficulty that they added served only to heighten the tension and create a genuinely compelling survival experience. It really was the perfect translation of horror movies to the interactive medium, not to mention a legitimate technological achievement for the time. The game celebrated its tenth anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion Capcom released a PC port that, based entirely on the great memories I had of the original, made me put aside the personal scepticism that usually accompanies the announcement of video game remasters.

Dead Rising PC Screenshot

For this to be a winner in my eyes, all they had to do was port it competently and, by and large, that’s what they did. Graphically, there’s very little to fault the team on: it’s hardly The Witcher 3 but they did a great job making the original textures more palatable to eyes accustomed to 2016 visual standards. The in-game text in the 360 version was notable for being nigh-unreadable on certain TVs, but this has thankfully been remedied here. Perhaps my only gripe with how this game looks is that they could have refreshed the HUD and the pause menu – they looked dated in 2006 and the problem is exacerbated by the improvements elsewhere – but this is a wholly minor fault.

Where the game does fall down slightly, though, is its technical fidelity. When everything works as it should, it’s a dream to play: the jump to 60fps means silky smooth animations and, when combined with the graphical overhaul, means this is absolutely what any series fan would want from a remaster. When everything works as it should. Unfortunately, this incarnation struggles with performance issues that the original did not. I was playing on a relatively high-spec setup (i5 6500, GTX 970, 16GB RAM) but nonetheless suffered from several crashes in the zombie-dense maintenance tunnels. Indeed, the number of zombies on screen clearly puts considerable pressure on the game engine as there were a number of very noticeable framerate drops when things got particularly crowded.

Dead Rising PC Screenshot

Finally, it’s probably worth pointing out that the AI is still just as terrible as it was the first time round, and in fact I’d probably go as far as saying it’s even more janky than it used to be. Escorting survivors back to the safe haven of the security room is an exercise in patience, with plenty of exasperated sighing as they get stuck on the scenery or just ignore your directions outright. Given that rescuing these forsaken souls is a pretty sizeable part of the game, this is a hard problem to ignore. It’s a fundamental feature that didn’t work properly in 2006 and sadly doesn’t work now either.

And yet, even with these not inconsiderable shortcomings, I still had just as much – if not more – fun playing this than I did the original. The second I fired it up the memories came flooding back and after a few hours spent roaming the mall the imperfections ceased to matter, rendered miniscule by the power of nostalgia. Forget the wacky sequels and the impending arrival of DR4: this is the only Dead Rising game you need to play.

5 responses to “Dead Rising Remastered

  1. well, the battle axe thing and the other OP weapons were to give people some taste of the weapons during that dream sequence, sort of a demo before the real thing, don’t turn it off but rather skip it, the things get more interesting once you hit min 24 or 26 where frank talks with a dude, there is were you start seeing were the story is going and why its going that way, which explains the timer not being a thing here.
    I have no problems with the silly weapons or OP ones being there as long as I have the option to not use them, like they’re there,its up to you , same way as the mini chainsaw and the salmons (these things can take bosses in 2-6 hits lol) , while its true that its amped the sillyness as I said its mostly to the user to go that way.

    well about frank, the game was in development I believe they wanted to get TJ , the first trailer, it doesn’t show frank’s voice at all and it might have been due to the strike of Rotolo’s guild same for other trailers shown, I bet they were waiting the strike to cease and since that didn’t happen the problem got overblown and well, had to keep rolling with this and take the blame themselves, can’t really blame CV or TJ’s guild but the bad timing of these events that the only ones that get caught on the fire are the fans.

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  2. nice review man, but I gotta say I rather stick with the sequels, I played the first game for years and I gotta say the sequels gave me a better experience overall and dead rising 3 being the culmination of everything good the game had to offer, there were some legit concerns I had with it that were really minor, but I still consider it the best dead rising.
    DR4 has me really worried with their desitions tho.

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    • Thanks for the comment! I played Case Zero and then DR2 based on how much I loved the first game but honestly I could already tell then that I didn’t like the direction the series was moving in. Maybe one day I’ll give them a shot but for now I’m content with #1.

      I share your concerns about DR4, though: I watched some of CrowbCat’s video with the interviews with some of the higher-ups working on the project and I gotta say I was shocked at the direction that the team have gone with it.

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      • to be honest, I liked the direction they went with DR2 it was refreshing , the combo weapons added to the premise of kill as much zombies if you want that DR1 brought .I still play dead rising 1 time to time and I feel the series evolved for the good.

        now with DR4 , theres some concerns I have , but they’re not what crobwcat said. I’ve watched the interviews alone myself and the guy took alot of what they said really out of context, some were right some others were wrong, the guys were really vague on giving info about the game, but so were the other dead risings. I feel that 60% of the vid when crowbcat picked on the game , he was being disingenous or outright lying due that alot of what he said can be proven otherwise watching the new gameplays or looking at the leaked menus, mostly assumptions.
        my concerns here are, the timer being added as a dlc, it was a really mixed reception back in the day and still is, they could atleast kept it as an option of sorts,but for what it is it seems like the no timer its a story driven thing, so I hope they’re holding surprises.
        the maniacs, now this is were I was kind of afraid, I just hope they work more like the cult but more powerful, I hope theres bosses that compensate them , which wasn’t confirmed still.
        coop, the others games had it , why can’t this one? I just hope they pull a “naughtydog” and have it as dlc later on,while its weird for companies focusing on single player, this can either go for good or bad, maybe thats why the steam version will come 90 days later I hope.
        now for what happened to TJ…well this speaks for itself https://imgur.com/ZRyyWyj
        after reading it I feel CV had to lie and take the blame themselves so they didn’t give shit to TJ’s guild.

        but anyway, thanks for responding I apreciate it 🙂

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        • Wow, I guess there’s a lot more to this than I had thought – it certainly sounds like you’ve done your research. I haven’t looked at a great deal of the DR4 gameplay, though I watched five minutes or so of that half hour video that was doing the rounds and had to turn it off when I saw “Frank” using some sort of lightning-powered battleaxe(?) to kill zombies. I dunno, I just feel like the original got the balance between silly and serious just right and the sequels started tipping the scales too far in the former direction.

          I’d probably feel a lot less animosity towards it if they hadn’t pulled all this shit with the main character. Whatever happened with TJ (and I’m not sure we’ll ever really know) aside, they should have just ditched the Frank idea when they knew they couldn’t get him. Surely someone there must have known how the fans were going to react?

          Thanks for your input, anyway – I really appreciate people engaging with my posts like this!

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