Game: Dead Rising Triple Pack
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 (Review code provided by publisher)
So, Dead Rising then, aka Capcom’s OTHER Zombie related franchise. Starting life on the XBox 360 way back in 2006, it’s had a bit of a patchy release history, jumping around consoles like Mario on acid (the first game even got an exclusive version for the Wii) before finally settling back down with Microsoft for the third and upcoming fourth games. But, not to leave out Sony players, Capcom is giving the first two games as well as the spin off, Off The Record, the re-release treatment for both PS4 and XBox One to mark the tenth anniversary of the series.
For anyone who’s been living in a cave for the past ten years, Dead Rising is an open (ish) world action game which mashes an homage to George Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead in with a Majora’s Mask time management mechanic and a splash of silly humour. The first game in the series sees protagonist Frank West helicoptered into the small American town of Wilamette during the middle of it’s very own Zombie apocalypse. A photojournalist, Frank intends to find out what’s really going on and expose it to the outside world. Finding himself in a locked down shopping mall, Frank tries to uncover a bizarre conspiracy, rescue other survivors, take down maniacal humans and try on some very dapper clothes indeed.
Dead Rising 2 follows a similar structure to the first game but takes a far more streamlined approach, getting the player to the action quicker. This time the player takes on the role of Chuck Greene, single father and stuntman who finds himself trapped with his daughter and a number of other survivors in Fortune City, a Las Vegas style casino town. There are a couple of twists to the formula with the ability to combine items into more powerful weapons, as well as having to return to Chuck’s daughter every 24 hours to give her an injection of Zombrex, a medicine designed to stop the spread of the zombie virus. Off The Record is basically a remake of DR2, this time casting Frank West in the lead role.
The games are a lot of fun with plenty to explore, lots of things to tool about with and an interesting timed mission structure which means you have to be in the right place at the right time to take on certain tasks. With the exception of the first games control they also stand up pretty well, which brings us to the main question – why the re-issues?
Let’s be clear from the outset, this HD collection adds little to the original releases other than a full 1080p, 60fps presentation. The first game still controls like a dog, there are some awkwardly long loading times and, oddly, the cutscenes in Dead Rising 2 and Off The Record drop to 30fps which is rather jarring. There’s no real optimisation or tweaking at work here and, while that doesn’t make the games bad, it certainly makes the package feel like a bit of a cash grab.
Of course, I say package, but that’s another odd choice by Capcom here. Rather than release these games as a last gen “definitive collection”, each individual game is available for download only at the princely sum of £16. Want to buy all four? That’ll cost you £40, a saving of £8. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s not a terrible price for these three games, but the release feels somewhat incomplete. On the Xbox 360, DR2 got two stand alone missions – Case Zero and Case West. Those are not included here, even for Xbox owners and their omission is even stranger when you consider that Capcom already released a Dead Rising collection on 360 that includes both of these alongside the three main games here.
But, as I said, the games are fun and hold up well today. For my money Dead Rising 2 is the best of the bunch with a slightly more serious story and more refined systems, with Off The Record providing an interesting “what if?” scenario. The first game is probably only worth it as a curio and, had it been part of a cheaper package would be worth a play, but you can safely miss it here.
A sadly barebones “up-res” re release that’s lacking the polish of Capcoms recent Resident Evil remasters and even their Mega Man collection. The games are no less fun, however the second is far and away the best. It’s just a shame that there’s not enough effort gone into this for fans and collectors, and the lack of the Case Zero and West download chapters as well as the fragmented release make the set feel incomplete.