I received review code for Dead Rising 2: Off the Record last week and was hoping to bring you hilarious tales of my attempts to photographically document a localised zombie apocalypse while wearing naught but spandex and a comedy hat. There would have been a bit with me riding a tricycle and shooting a water pistol at a horde of reanimated corpses and another bit when my chainsaw-paddle contraption spectacularly failed at the very moment a tiger was preparing to chew my face off. Imagine how much fun it would have been!
Keep on imagining because despite buying a retail copy to ensure the problem wasn't unstable code I haven't managed to take a single compromising photograph or wear a shred of spandex. A combination of shoddy port syndrome and Games For Windows Live has thwarted my every attempt to play a game I expected to enjoy and say nice things about. None of that now. Instead, regrettably, this.
First of all, let me tell you how much I enjoyed Dead Rising 2, which I did play on the very PC I'm writing this on. I had a great time with it and indeed the first game, which I played on a consolebox out of necessity. I've long wanted to invite hard-bitten photojournalist Frank West onto my PC, it's the next best thing to going for a beer with the great man, so it's fair to say I was keen to enjoy On The Record. I didn't have any of the problems with the PC port of Dead Rising 2, although it seems many people did. In fact, I've only become aware of many of those problems now because at least some of them seem to be replicated in Off The Record.
These aren't glitches or a lack of keybinding, they are issues which prevent the game from even loading - no title screen, no developer logos. Nothing. Not even an error message. Quite why Off The Record should object so strongly to my machine when its previous incarnation plays just fine, I don't know, but the fact that the game has made me jump through so many hoops is bad enough, the fact that it still doesn't work is unacceptable.
Here's what I've tried so far.
In order to use the review code, it was necessary to uninstall GFWL and use a PartnerNET version, which is fine by me. Uninstalling GFWL makes me feel like I'm striking a blow against hegemony and I'm all about that kind of radical action. Reinstalling a different version immediately afterwards somewhat detracts from my rebellious spirit, but I've got games to play so this isn't the time for anarchistic posturing.
Having dutifully followed all instructions to the letter, I was ready to go, but Off The Record apparently wasn't. A large low resolution window appeared with the message that the application had stopped running. OK. I'm used to this kind of thing, so I rebooted and tried again, and then uninstalled the game, cleared it from my registry along with all traces of GFWL in both its forms, rebooted, reinstalled the game and the PartnerNET GFWL, tried again. Same result, the application stopped running almost before it had started.
Since the retail version was just around the corner, I decided to hold on and try that instead. So I uninstalled the review code, cleared it from my registry along with all traces of the PartnerNET GFWL. I've spent a lot of time dusting my registry recently and have even considered putting up some shelves and turning it into a study.
Yesterday, I installed the retail version of the game and tried to run it, only to receive exactly the same error, which is to say no real error at all - no message, no details, just an abrupt return to the desktop. The internet informs me that some dedicated folks have been identifying the problems with the port and attempting to find fixes. It's just a shame that no one at Capcom decided to look at these things before selling the game. Adjustments to speaker sound quality in order to run an application? Crashes if the game isn't installed to the C: drive? I don't know if either of those things are necessary in all cases, but they have seemingly made a difference for some people.
Even for those specifically configured souls who have the game running, crashes sometimes require graphical options to be disabled, including V-sync and anti-aliasing. I'm not one of those people though - I don't have the option of uglifying things because I still don't have anything vaguely resembling a game. Just that same instant crash, which gives no error but does leave a log on my harddrive, which isn't some kind of dirty protest, but is unhelpful and annoying all the same. All of the fields in the error log read 'UNKNOWN', in caps just like that, except that it knows the name of the game I'm trying to run and the name of the computer I'm trying to run it on.
It's becoming a blasted nuisance, this Off The Record.
But I soldier on because I am brave and stalwart, although undeniably much less brave and stalwart than an actual soldier. Sound quality adjusted, as suggested, I try again. Nothing new, just the same old sorry state of things. The next step would be to move the game to my C: drive, which I resisted because it's where I keep system files, not games. Don't ask me why, but my several hard drives are segmented beasts, with different letters reserved for different categories of item. The c: drive doesn't have a great deal of free space so I need to do some housekeeping and then I copy the whole damn thing across.
It still doesn't work. At this point, I didn't expect it to.
The only other thing that could be conflicting is GFWL and from what I'm reading, the crash that's affecting me could be related to that Godforsaken front-end of perpetual misery. Off The Record clearly isn't reaching the stage where it could sign me into GFWL because it crashes almost immediately, but maybe they are failing to communicate and that's why I can't play. So I try to fool it; I uninstall GFWL, clear it from my registry (which is so clean I can see my face in it), reboot and then run Off The Record. Most GFWL titles I've played would force me to install the software at this point but not Off The Record. Same crash, same lack of information.
For good measure, I try running Batman: Arkham Asylum (I wish I could have said City) and GFWL boots up and everything works just fine. Try running Dead Rising 2 and it crashes but also seems to infect GFWL live, which won't load up anymore and has to be reinstalled. So the problem does seem to be a clash between the two. I'm not blaming GFWL entirely though because there are apparently some serious problems with the Off The Record port, which is madness when Dead Rising 2 has been available on PC for so long. Surely someone has been listening to the problems PC gamers had with that game? Doesn't look like it.
In this exciting catalogue of tedium, I haven't mentioned that I uninstalled and reinstalled Off The Record itself several times (with registry scrubbing). What I'm saying is, I've tried everything suggested and the bloody thing won't work.
Capcom have provided me with many hours of joy over the years, so I was delighted when it seemed they were starting to bring more of their games to the PC. After being thoroughly underwhelmed by their treatment of the Resident Evil 4 port, which managed to look worse than the Gamecube release and didn't provide genuine controller support for anything beyond a gamepad, I'm wondering about the sense of bringing ports across with so little effort. That said, when the original Dead Rising 2 worked for me straight out of the box (or off the Steam, as it were), I was perfectly happy and had a great time. Right now though, the useless chunk of game on my desk is making me a tad grumpy. And it's mostly because I actually want to play it.
This is one man's experience though, backed up by the evidence of internet anecdotes and the existence of long lists of 'fixes' for supposed incompatibilities and errors that really should have been eliminated before release. Obviously, many people will be having fun with the PC version of the game but I can't speak for them.
Has anyone had a better experience? And does anyone have any advice? Although on the advice front, if it's not mad and esoteric advice, I've probably tried it already.