Dead Rising Triple Pack Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on PC and Microsoft Xbox One
These days finding older games on new consoles is a common thing, whether it be a game that's been out for over a decade emulated onto a new platform, or a title that's been rebuilt from the ground up for a new generation. This allows games that were previously exclusive to certain consoles to now reach a wider audience, as is the case with Dead Rising. Originally out only on the Xbox 360 the game now comes to the XBox One, PS4, and PC upgraded to 1080p and 60fps, along with the sequels Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, all with the original’s preorder bonuses and rewards thrown in as standard.
Aside from the graphical overhaul the games haven't been touched, there are no new modes to play, no extra missions, or bonus content; the games are the same as they always were, right down to the lag when there are too many zombies on screen. This isn't to say the games are unplayable, far from it, while the lag is still there it's nowhere near as prevalent as it once was back on the Xbox 360 and it improves with each game, The joy of smashing waves of zombies more than makes up for the slight dip to the point where it’s hardly noticeable unless you're looking for it.
Dead Rising centers around Frank West, a freelance journalist who travels to a small American town on a tip only to be dumped in the middle of a zombie uprising with nothing but his camera in hand. The whole story centres around uncovering the truth behind the outbreak, undermining the government cover up, and escaping in one piece. To this end you can use the camera Frank carries with him everywhere to snap pictures of the various atrocities and people involved for experience points, turning part of the game into a very twisted version of Pokemon Snap.
Newcomers to the series will be disappointed to learn that the famous weapon crafting system, where a player can mix certain items to create powerful and often hilarious ‘combo weapons’, Were not introduced until Dead Rising 2 and are therefore absent from this first game, along with multiplayer. It’s also the hardest game in the series by far. The absence of the over-powered weapon combinations and lack of friendly back-up can be keenly felt by anyone attempting to complete the story on their first playthrough. Couple that with manual saving, which to those who forget to save often will find costs them a few hours’ work every time they die, and the goal of obtaining the game’s six possible endings becomes a chore. There is the option on all three games to completely ignore, and subsequently fail, the story and just kill zombies and collect experience and unlockables instead, like the one for killing the entire town's population, and attempt the story again in new game plus mode. All stats and levels gained from enemies killed or tasks done carry over, making the next playthrough that much easier. But the game can quickly become repetitive, something that is alleviated by the multiplayer modes in the other two games.
Dead Rising 2 focuses on the tale of Chuck Greene, a single father trying to provide much needed medication for his daughter in the years after the first game. Zombies are commonplace now and the subject of debate for human rights activists who condemn game shows, like ‘Terror is Reality’ of which Chuck is a contestant, for killing zombies for entertainment. When zombies overrun the Vegas-style Fortune City after a show, Chuck discovers he’s been framed for it and needs to clear his name, all while hunting down the medicine his daughter needs once every twenty-four hours as they wait the three days until rescue can get to them. While it's more than possible to find the needed syringes lying around in places it is also possible to purchase them from looters, this game adding money and gambling to the many casinos.
While the seventy-two hour time limit is still strict the ability to make weapons that can kill multiple zombies in one hit, or fire explosives into a crowd, or working alongside a friend make the game a lot easier, even if the saves in this one are still manual. In fact the game is so much easier that it is more than possible to finish the main story in one playthrough and feels a lot less like the uphill struggle the first game was. The game now adds optional drop-in co-op, allowing people on your friends list to enter your game to help out, as well as a competitive mini-game mode to earn cash for the main game. The only downside to co-op multiplayer is if you are not the hosting player then the storyline progress will not be saved for you. You will still keep all the stats and levels you obtained playing with your friend, and the outfits you managed to obtain, but the weapons you crafted or found will not be kept. This means that the wonderful diamond tiara you managed to snag for Chuck will carry back to your own game but the lightsaber you spent hours hunting a flashlight for will vanish into the ether. This sounds annoying but materials constantly respawn meaning that if you manage to find the location of a certain item on your friend’s game it will be there again when you go back and it will also be there in your own game, with only a few exceptions.
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is the same game as Dead Rising 2 only seen from the viewpoint of Frank West, the protagonist of the first game. In an alternate world, having shot to stardom after the events of Dead Rising, Frank now finds his career failing after a scandal cancels his TV show. Seeing his chance to claim back some of his renown with the outbreak scandal in Fortune City, Frank goes back to his photojournalist ways. This means that though the game is practically identical to Dead Rising 2, with the exception of a new theme park area and a few new weapons, you now have a camera with which to capture some of the more outrageous scenes and Frank's charming narrative that made him the posterboy for the series.
In the end, Dead Rising Triple Pack is a very welcome addition to any zombie fan’s collection. It takes the almost tongue-in-cheek approach to the genre that the original was famous for and opens it up to a new generation of players who never had a chance to play it first time around. While the graphics may not have aged terribly well at all, with characters still appearing wooden and the gestures still looking as unrealistic as they did back in the day, the gameplay remains every bit as fun as it once was, even if the load times are a bit long and Frank looks like someone painted Shrek pink.