Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil and Silent Hill all helped to define the ‘Survival Horror’ genre (with a lot more help from the Resident Evil series). Games had now taken over from fight-night horror films (let’s be honest…new ‘Teen Horror’ movies are terrible) and the PSone had become a popular platform for horror thrill-seekers.
The classic Survival Horror genre also gave birth to a classic gameplay mechanic. Fixed camera angles, backdrops, tank controls and first aid sprays, are now everything you would expect from such a game and even modern next-gen versions, still use this formula.
However, the very same games developer who helped mould this very genre, also gave it a new spin and style. CAPCOM came away from the idea of hidden pistol clips, storage boxes and dark, enclosed hallways. Now CAPCOM needed to push the genre further, make it more fun, challenging and create an even more realistic survival horror world. CAPCOM upped it’s game and in 2006, released Dead Rising.
CAPCOM’s mall survival-brawler, did what Resident Evil never could…truly put you in the middle of an outbreak and allow you to deal with the situation as you would (or could) in real-life. Guns won’t just appear in a big box, ammo won’t teleport into bedroom draws when you really need it…but a shopping mall full of, well…shopping mall stuff, could easily and realistically be used to grant those undead corpses, eternal peace!
Do you remember early E3 footage of Dead Rising? It wasn’t just the gameplay or environment that continuously improved and had make-overs throughout development…Frank himself, seemed to go under-the-knife at some point:
Running through a mall of zombies and being able to grab whatever you could, whenever you wanted, created superb gameplay. However, Dead Rising still had many gamers disappointed in terms of game basics and mission structure. The most common compliant being the Dead Rising save system. Yes, we appreciated living the real nightmare and making quick decisions there and then, but when you were playing to insanely strict mission time-limits that all synced to each other…a single-slot save system, was just frustrating.
Dead Rising mission time-limits were possibly the other most popular complaint. We all cringe when a platformer, FPS, RPG or any other genre of game, suddenly hits us with a “GET TO DA CHOPPAAA!” countdown scenario, so making a survival horror based entirely around time-limit missions, was asking a lot from gamers.
Other major points of complaint were the constant calls from Otis, not being able to jump, fight or heal your way out of trouble while on your radio, but most surprising of all…the lack of incentive to take hordes of zombies head-on. Don’t get us wrong, we absolutely loved the added gameplay element of taking photos for moves (and hilarious laughs) but PP just for taking photos and survivors, left little persuasion to dive into hordes of the undead and yell “COME GET SOME!”. Yes, there were new abilities and fighting maneuvers, but these simply came too late into the game (sorry…too late into your 3rd play-through).
Four years had passed since CAPCOM released the original Dead Rising (so we’ve all now obtained Frank’s ‘Zombie Walk’). In 2010 CAPCOM not only released Dead Rising 2, but allowed Blue Castle to take the developer rains. The result was a tweaked game from 2006. Enjoyable, improved…but it still felt like an add-on.
When beginning Dead Rising 2, it was shocking how similar the sequel was to the original. Locations, scenarios and some events unfolded in the same manner as the very first game. It’s not known exactly how restricted Blue Castle were when developing the sequel, but after playing it we can imagine that CAPCOM were pulling quite a few strings.
MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS OVER THE FIRTS DEAD RISING:
– You can now use three save slots. CAPCOM realised that the “real nightmare” simulation, was best left to the decision of the player…and not forced upon them
– You’re now able to attack and jump while using your radio. This made perfect sense due to the overwhelmingly harsh situations we all found ourselves in, while answering our radios during the first Dead Rising.
ADDED IMPROVEMENTS OVER THE FIRST DEAD RISING:
– Your character can now move and strife in Dead Rising 2, while using sighted weapons. No longer do you feel like a sitting-duck with a gun in your hands (because surly it should be the OTHER WAY AROUND!)
– You can now add weapons and objects together to make more powerful, devastating weapons! This is known as the “Dead Rising 2 Weapons Combo System”. This sounds awesome, looks awesome and generally is awesome as the incentive of huge amounts of bonus PP, makes you actually want to jump into hordes of zombies and kick-ass!
DEAD RISING 3
CAPCOM have not only released a sequel to Dead Rising, but have bought-out the company that developed it! Yup, Blue Castle is now part of CAPCOM and with 2 DLC’s already available (Zero and Case West) it’s obvious CAPCOM’s plans won’t rest there. Dead Rising 3 must be on the office board somewhere, (if it isn’t already in development) so lets look at how Blue Castle and CAPCOM could create the masterpiece that is Dead Rising 3:
Map Navigation in Dead Rising 3
When playing Dead Rising 2, you probably noticed the sheer size of it. In fact, there’s a possibility you didn’t even get the chance to explore or even see it all, during your first play-through. Although our constructive criticism doesn’t focus on this point, (it’s great to immerse yourself in a large world) it does focus on your in-game map.
When time is one of your biggest enemies, when there’s a psychopath behind you and where there are survivors lives at stake…a manual way-point marker that links with the in-game directional arrow, would surly be helpful? Being able to select your destination anywhere on your map and be guided straight to it, would seriously reduce frustration levels. GTA has such a system…but you don’t have a mall full of zombies, nut jobs and time-based missions, queuing up to prevent you from reaching your destination.
Timed Missions in Dead Rising 3
Reading multiple critic reviews always points to one major complaint…timed missions. Yes, we understand there’s a zombie outbreak and yes, we understand that survivors can’t wait around forever to be saved, but why wrap-up the entire game within a 72hr time-limit?
Fighting your way through malls, streets and casinos full of zombies with countless weapons and awesome moves, should be FUN. Whether your game is horror or not…games will always need the element of enjoyment to maintain the players attention. Frantically running from case to case before the clock runs out, is NOT fun…it’s frustrating. We like the sense of possibly playing through a second or third time to beat that boss, or to solve those other TEN cases, but surly this is something that should be down to the player?
The major problem here, is that everything is time-synced. If you just about reach one case by the skin of your teeth, you sure as hell won’t make the case that comes after it. This is possibly the most frustrating aspect of the Dead Rising series. Why not scrap the 72hr time-limit completely? CAPCOM could still have separate timed missions (missions with survivors holding-on for dear-life, would make sense) but these missions would never lead-on to potentially ruin someones entire play-through. Plus it would still offer re-playability if that particular mission was unsuccessful.
A game where you can go anywhere, smash anything and use anything as a weapon, really gives the player a huge sense of freedom. To then place a 72hr time-limit AND time every other scenario and case, just completely ruins what the games is all about. CAPCOM and Blue Castle really need to think about how this effects gameplay. Don’t forget that a huge amount of effort goes into designing and developing Dead Rising games, so allowing players to enjoy such expertly crafted environments and interactive objects, would be another valid point.
An Ending or Multiple Endings in Dead Rising 3?
Here’s one for you to think about. After playing both Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2, would you prefer the multiple endings or would you rather experience solid story and missions that link to one finale? We ask this because at times, Dead Rising feels rather…rushed when endings come into play (with focus to the second game). It makes us feel that the possibility of creating a solid story with a set climax, could also help improve the formula? Food for thought…
The Dead Rising series has taken huge effort, risks and one generous budget to put on the shelf. However, with most major critics giving Dead Rising games below the sought-after 9/10, it’s pretty clear that Dead Rising needs alterations in its formula. Dead Rising 3 can’t just simply offer new locations and characters if it is to succeed.
Give us your feedback on how CAPCOM and Blue Castle can improve Dead Rising 3. We want to read what you think on the ideas above, as well as any other ideas you may have.