Having played every title in the series to a reasonable degree and being a part of the wide community ever since the release of the second title, Dead Rising is one of the most important game franchises to me. The experiences of zombie slaying in Willamette, Fortune City and Los Perdidos are all some of my favourites in gaming history and from the recent announcements at E3 and beyond, there has never been a better time to be a fan of Dead Rising.
What makes the series so special? There are so many elements to each game that are inherently Dead Rising that it often makes it hard to pick out what is best about the games. Is it the story? Entertaining B-Movie esque plots mixed in with gaming greats like Frank West and Chuck Greene make up most of the plots best bits but that is only a small part of the series. Is it the presentation? The large amount of zombies on screen often coexist with much more colourful backdrops, such as the casinos and neon lights of Fortune City. The gameplay is obviously key here with the mix of combo weapons, photography and survival all making for one of the most tense yet entertaining zombie games around. The one element that stands above any other zombie games, the one element that can barely be matched by most new releases is the exploration and the numerous ways in which you can kill the zombies. Both the Willamette Mall and Fortune City hide many secrets and creative killing opportunities making them joys to explore. My personal favourite thing to do is collect all of the wild outfits and dress Frank and Chuck up in the craziest way possible. Dead Rising combines all of these elements, mixes in the trademark Capcom humour and creates something truly special.
So, why is now the best time to be a fan of the series? With the recent Microsoft press conference at E3 came the reveal that Dead Rising 4 was indeed a reality and would bring back fan favourites Frank West and Willamette Mall. Although the inclusion of these two elements may confuse some fans into thinking of this entry as a remake, the game actually takes place several years after Dead Rising 3 and features a significantly middle aged Frank West. The game also introduces a Christmas theme to the environment (a first for the series) and means that Frank is including Yuletide festivities into his killing. Dead Rising 4 looks set to be one of the best in the series so far, advancing all of the best elements from each of the games. Frank West and Willamette from the first title, combo weapons from the second, a big urban environment from the third game and all of the gameplay advancements that came from that entry too. It takes all of the best features but also introduces its own brand new ones, such as the EXO suit and ability to take selfies and use three weapon types at once. All of this, combined with the story once again focusing on Frank’s return to greatness, looks set to be the best entry in the series so far.
Not only do fans get to experience a brand new title, Capcom are also remastering all of the prior games for current gen systems. That includes the original Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2 and even the spin off title Dead Rising 2 Off the Record. For those new to the series this allows them to experience all of the best games in the series and get acquainted with Frank West right before the release of Dead Rising 4. For veterans of the series we get an upgrade to the game’s resolution and the ability to play all of the games in one place with all of the DLC. It’s also the first time that the original Dead Rising will appear on a console outside of the Xbox 360, marking the series debut on PS4. A return to the original games allows for a greater perspective on all of the changes made in the newer titles and also means that those who preferred the original games can also get to experience some Dead Rising this year.
What does this mean for Dead Rising? The laser focus that Capcom have put on the series this year shows how important the franchise is and how willing they are to listen to the fans. It also means that fans are getting so much Dead Rising in a short space of time that they’re bound to play at least one of the games. It brings the series into a much bigger market and ensures that everyone knows exactly what Dead Rising is and gets to experience it one way or another. Whether you’re a fan or someone who’s never played the series, the future is bright for Dead Rising.