Calling these ports of last generation’s Dead Rising games “remasters” is a stretch. They do little more than run the games at 1080p and 60fps on current hardware. The textures and content of each Dead Rising game otherwise appear to be identical to their original releases.
The original Dead Rising looks especially dated, but this isn’t surprising considering it released ten years ago during last generation’s infancy. Textures are anything but detailed. Frank’s hair looks like three or four separate textures slapped on his head, cars in the opening scene look like coloured cardboard and most of the environment looks outmoded. There are frequent drops in the framerate whenever attacking more than a few zombies at a time or the action gets more frantic, but not enough to impact the gameplay.
Out of the three games available, the original is easily the worst. The combat is clunky, with the aiming of guns feeling especially so because it requires holding the right trigger and aiming with the left stick which will feel unnatural to anyone that plays first person shooters. The sequels fixed the gunplay and have very natural and familiar controls by comparison. This isn’t to say that the original game is bad, as it is still a ton of fun and probably the closest we’ll ever get to a Dawn of the Dead game. The dialogue and acting is terrible enough to come across as enjoyable and campy, which is why this game still holds a special place in my heart.
The sequel and it’s “what if” spinoff have a much better showing as they both seem to have no issues with framerate and the textures (and thus graphics) look far better. This just goes to show you how much console graphics can change on the same hardware over four years. On top of that, there is the addition of online multiplayer, both cooperative and competitive, as well as the ability to craft insane and comical weapons.
Vanilla Dead Rising 2 takes place in Vegas and you play as Chuck Greene, a single father doing what he can to earn money to take care of his young daughter that just happens to have been bitten by a zombie. This takes place after the original game and zombies are contained and used for entertainment purposes until, as you’d expect, something goes wrong and another outbreak occurs.
While the sequel is still over-the-top, the story is a bit more serious and touching with the father-daughter aspect. I personally prefer Off the Record, which is a remake of the sequel that answers the question “What if it were Frank West in Vegas instead of Chuck Greene?” Frank is cynical and sarcastic which makes for a much more comical and entertaining game and fits the overall tone a bit better. While it doesn’t have the competitive multiplayer mode, it does offer an additional sandbox mode that ditches the time restraints of the first game and allows players to just have fun killing zombies and completing missions at their own pace.
While the games do include DLC costumes, the sequel is missing the standalone game Case Zero that acted as a prequel to the full game and the DLC epilogue Case West, which is a shame because they were both worth playing and added a bit more to the story.
For $20 apiece or $59.99 for the package these games are still worth your time as they contain a ton of gameplay and replayability, but just don’t expect more from them other than better framerates at a higher resolution. These are still some of the best zombie games ever released and one of the only modern beat ’em-up series left. If you’re looking for campy zombie fun, look no further.
Dead Rising 1 7.5/10
Dead Rising 2 8.0/10
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record 8.0/10