Go West: Dead Rising Has Arrived On PC

The first Dead Rising [official site] has just arrived on Steam. I installed it and played it for five minutes just to make sure it didn’t make my computer bleed or crumble into dust, and so far so good. The reception seems positive, in terms of performance, and this looks like it might be a solid remaster of the 2006 original.

Although I’ve barely touched it since the year it came out, here’s why I’m extremely glad this ridiculous game is on PC, and why I’m looking forward to playing it again: it’s as weird and experimental as any big budget game that has ever waved a horde of zombies in your face.

Dead Rising (given that God of War and Gears of War are both featuring dads this time around, my habit of mistyping it as Dad Rising is maybe prophetic) is the game with the time limits that only lets you save in safe places (toilets are where journo-hero Frank West feels safest). It’s built on the idea that events will happen and people will die whether you happen to be present at the time. What that means is that as well as being an incredibly silly game, which lets you dress as a clown and fire a nerf gun at zombies, Dead Rising is a Dawn of the Dead simulation.

Set in a shopping mall, featuring shambling Romero hordes rather than sprinting reboot zombies, it’s a weird hybrid of actual survival sim and zany arcade game. That it runs with both of those concepts as fast as a furious 28 Days Later not-zombie somehow works. It’s an incredible achievement – a game as ludicrous as Saints Row but fully intent on carrying out all of its pratfalls and pranks in a systemically driven environment, where the clock is ticking and failure is always a possibility.

The sequels never managed to balance the ingredients quite as well and missed having a protagonist as quotable as old Frank “Zombies, huh?” West. I’m hoping that age has been kind to Dead Rising and while the updates are certainly welcome (support up to 4k resolution, rebindable keyboard and mouse settings, uncapped frame rate and wider controller support), it’s the boldness of the design that I’m banking on to keep the whole thing interesting a decade later. We’ll be taking a closer look soon.

Dead Rising is £15.99/19,99€/$19.99 on Steam.

From this site

23 Comments

  1. Neurotic says:

    Cor, brilliant! I’ve always wanted to play this. Couldn’t bring myself to play the sequels without having done the first one first. One question, did you mean ” It’s built on the idea that events will happen and people will die whether you happen to be present at the time OR NOT”?

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Just to note you really don’t have to have played this to enjoy the sequels, though whatever floats your boat, I suppose. It might feel weird to go back to the really strict limitations of the first game after the second and/or third? And the first game was markedly smaller? Other than that I can’t think of any major drawbacks (beat the first on 360, the second on PS3, own the second and third on PC but never finished either there).

      • Kitsunin says:

        Dead Rising 2 is probably the best game in the series.

        But I think you can appreciate DR1 a lot more if you play it before 2. It definitely has its strengths over its sequel. In particular, the time-based everything is a lot more interesting when you have to go to certain spots to get properly effective weapons, and sometimes get stuck with crap.

        Like, on the whole DR2 took what made 1 fun and piled even more fun on top of that (then DR3 caught open-world-itis and forgot what was underneath DR2’s improvements). It would potentially be too easy to be distracted by what’s missing if you go back to 1 without having already seen what makes it still good.

        Storywise? Blah, the story of both games are fun, but who cares about the order you go in. You’ll probably get a lot more out of Off the Record if you know Frank West already, though.

        • Plake says:

          DR2 was a bland copy of the first without the charme, but with combo-weapons. Thankfully the third has a much more memorable character and city. DR1 is still the best imo, Dawn of the Dead as video game…

    • deforrestation says:

      The gameplay is built around there being only so much time, and too many things to do happen AT that time, far away from each other in the open world. So the tension (or insanity) comes from knowing you WON”T be able to save everyone, and which survivors will have to be left to die.

    • brgillespie says:

      The game is also saddled with infuriatingly-stupid AI. I felt compelled to save these hapless survivors, but fuck me could it be aggravating trying to get them back to the safe zone.

      • Sin Vega says:

        Infuriating is the word alright. However determined I was, any attempt to save most survivors invariably ended with me losing my shit and just letting the zombies have the useless idiots.

        I paraphrase, but Stuart Campbell once described Dead Rising with 100% accuracy as the greatest game anyone ever subjected to a full time team of dedicated Game Ruiners. Porting it to PC was such an opportunity (a decade late, but still) to fix some of their work.

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        Mungrul says:

        I was always quite fond of the artificial stupidity, as some muppet would always break down and rock back-and-forth at the most inopportune time, adding massively to the sense of panic.

        I still think it (and DR2) are the best zombie games ever. Mind you, I haven’t played either in yonks.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      The game is basically New Game+ The Game.
      Don’t worry too much because you can never do everything in one playthrough anyway and you keep your experience when you die. Also, the achievements are actually useful if they are still the same and help set some fun goals for shorter runs.

      Pretty much forget managing a complete story playthrough in the first couple of attempts before getting some levels and getting a grasp of the items.

      A tip for the infuriating bosses if you just want to make progress – clown chainsaws (respawning) and some combinations of damage/durability books and juice buffs.
      I don’t want to spoil more than that but it was probably the only thing that made me manage the entire Ending A and Overtime Mode story with sanity intact.

  2. Halk says:

    “Set in a shopping mall, featuring shambling Romero hordes rather than sprinting reboot zombies”

    Those “sprinting Zombies” are usually not Zombies but Infected. I don’t know what’s so difficult about it.

    People die and get up again -> Zombie
    People get infected with something and turn right away instead of dying -> Infected

    Not even Valve gets this right and often ends up calling their Left 4 Dead Infected Zombies…
    Just look at the Left 4 Dead store page on Steam. The first sentence calls them Zombies and in the very next sentence they call them Infected.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Jesus, are you people still going on about this?

    • MrWolf says:

      Stahp. Just…stahp.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Nooooope. Infected just means people who are “infected” with a disease, sure, but zombie just means, like, an unthinking person, not necessarily a voodoo zombie.

      • Rich says:

        Voodoo zombies aren’t even undead, they’re just enthralled.

  3. Sin Vega says:

    Have they fixed the controls?
    Have they made the survivors remotely capable of doing anything without being constantly booted up the arse?
    And most importantly of all.. have they shut Otis up?

    • Al__S says:

      There is no single canonical definition of zombie. Creators of fictional worlds are free to define zombie however they wish. Get over it.

    • ElGordoFreeman says:

      Capcom only provided with 1080p and 60fps. Same bad controls (RE4 stop to shoot), and worse, same dumb “im gonna get stuck and die unless you want to come back and help me…again and again”
      Its a lazy quick cash for Capcom

  4. thatfuzzybastard says:

    I loved the way Dead Rising’s time limit forced you to play through several, very different stories, each of which made for a very different Frank West. I wrote about this on my blog at the time, and was rather pleased with my thoughts (though less so with the massively Suck-inspired format): link to thatfuzzybastard.blogspot.com

  5. zsd says:

    I will always be grateful to Dead Rising for being the first game to allow me to live out my fantasy of wielding a full-sized tube TV.

    Those things are heavy.

  6. bigblack says:

    Really enjoyed that! Your write-up is dead-similar to my experience with this game. I found it amazing how each time I played through DR there was an iteration effect where your more powerful character was able to do SO MUCH more against the time-limits. It seemed natural that with the carry-over stats your endings would get progressively better, or at least that you would be able to accomplish whatever you wanted in the campaign time. It was an excellent reward!

    Also, I would never have guessed it would work for me this way, but the time-limits quickly went from being the worst idea ever to actually making me really appreciate the difficulty (oddly like all the dying in Dark Souls). You just have to sort of let it go, realize that some failure is sort of woven into this desperate scenario on your first attempts. Ignoring the completionist/achievement-brain which demands a perfect play-through can be tough, but it feels good after it happens and you can finally relax with the game as it was built. Sadly, I never cared for the sequels.

  7. trapgate says:

    I’ll always remember this game fondly for this moment:

    I’d played through once, but before meeting some horrific end in the mall I’d changed outfits. Frank was now wearing a dark suit, tie, and dark glasses. When I started the second play-through there he was in the back of the helicopter wearing the same suit and looking very Agent Smith.

    At some point in the intro he looks out the window, says something pithy like, “Zombies, huh?”, and whips off his sunglasses. Revealing…another pair of sunglasses.

    Ice cold.