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Dead Rising Deluxe Remaster Must Fix One Major Problem From The Original

Frank West is back in the spotlight, but will his allies be ready to share the stage?


Dead Rising is the reason I bought an Xbox 360, so it holds a special place in my heart. But as much as I look back on my time with the game fondly, I also find it virtually unplayable today. There are a few reasons for that; the prisoners in the courtyard are incredibly annoying, the mission timer is much too strict, and generally, I'm not into replaying older games after a certain stretch of time.

But more than anything, Dead Rising suffers as a game in 2024 because of one flaw: its NPC allies are dumb. Dead Rising--as a wacky zombie game that offers a different flavor than Capcom's other zombie series, Resident Evil--is a success, for the most part. But it's also the ultimate escort mission, and a great example of why players so often hate that sort of thing.

If you have never played it, Dead Rising borrows heavily from Dawn of the Dead, putting players in a mall full of zombies and challenging them to survive several in-game days until rescue arrives. Along the way, 50 NPCs can be discovered, some of them fighting for their lives, others hiding out in fast food restaurants, or maintaining their heartbeat in a number of other ways. I love the concept of finding other survivors in a world of undead and recruiting them to your side while getting them to safety, but Dead Rising's NPCs are far too likely to get their throats ripped out thanks to poor AI.

As Frank, players can instruct survivors to go to a certain place, hold their position, or actively follow in his footsteps. Players can also arm NPC allies with weapons, but even the armed allies regularly fail to pull their weight. This creates a frustrating gameplay loop that is exacerbated by the aforementioned mission timer, which demands players are constantly doing something productive. I have qualms with this timer beyond how it interacts with NPCs--if you're going to give me an undead playground, give me time to play in it--but I'll accept a timer just as strict as before so long as the NPCs aren't dragging down my pace with their perpetual peril.

Frank West is reborn in Dead Rising Deluxe Remaster.
Frank West is reborn in Dead Rising Deluxe Remaster.

This is a feature that is repeated, and thankfully improved on greatly, in Dead Rising 2 and 3, which has meant my nostalgic returns to the series have mainly been limited to those two (and perhaps some messing around in Dead Rising 4 every December). It's really only the first one that suffers so greatly from unreliable AI pals. In later games in the series, allies can effectively dodge and fight back against zombies in ways the first game's survivors simply can't. While Frank would swim through hordes, his newfound friends would drown in them in the original. Maybe that's why Frank has always been seen as the main character of the series despite there having been several other playable characters--players endured the most pain in his shoes.

The recently revealed Dead Rising Deluxe Remaster (which seems as though it could be more like a Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy-style remake) has not just the chance, but the responsibility, to fix this aspect of the original game. The teaser trailer doesn't tell us much about the project, though we can infer a few things, such as a new voice actor for Frank. That signals this project is more than just another remaster for Dead Rising--a game that already got a remaster nearly a decade ago.

So for now, I'm cautiously hopeful that Dead Rising Deluxe Remaster can be the makeover Frank has so desperately needed for almost 20 years. I'd like to think Capcom, which has done a great job with remakes and remasters as of late, understands this and emphasized it in production as an area of improvement. A fresh coat of paint is not going to be enough to merit playing this game again if the allies are still routinely walking into zombie teeth like it's their job.

Mark Delaney on Google+

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