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Saturday, August 7, 2021

[‘Dead Rising’ at 15] Why Capcom Needs to Give its Goofy Zombie Series Another Shot

A successful series usually occurs when a creator knows what its best qualities are, and builds on them or twists them into new and exciting ways. Capcom in particular has shown that in recent years with the revitalization of Devil May Cry and Resident Evil, but it’s important to note that before that, both series were in a poor state because of how far the original vision had pulled away from what was actually made. For a long time, Capcom followed the wrong trends in an attempt to keep these long-standing series relevant, and often got it painfully wrong. 

Never was that more apparent than with Dead Rising, a series where the people in charge clearly listened to the wrong feedback time and again to the point the series’ credibility is at an all-time low after the mess that was Dead Rising 4.

And yet, as the aforementioned Resident Evil and Devil May Cry have shown, there’s a solution to that. Take Dead Rising back to its roots, understand what made the original such a classic 15 years ago, and build on that.

At the core of that is the ticking clock mechanic (the smarts of which are explained so well here by Cole Henry). It was always a sticking point for some with the original game, and even in the first sequel to some degree (albeit for different reasons), but its limitations are exactly what makes Dead Rising’s relative freedom outside of it such a joy.

It’s telling that later entries lost something without the rigidity of that strict timeframe to do specific tasks, and that’s exacerbated by game worlds that were far too open and busy. Given Capcom’s smartly frugal approach to getting other franchises back to their best, a smaller, tighter game to reboot the Dead Rising series makes a lot of sense. The safest way to approach that would surely be to give the original game a similar reimagining treatment that was bestowed upon Resident Evil 2. Hit the key beats, keep the essence of the original, but present it in a more comfortable, modern way.

I adore the original Dead Rising for what it is, but as with the older Resident Evil games, I can appreciate the way they handle isn’t particularly pleasant for the majority of newcomers. Finding the balance between the old way and the new is a very tricky challenge for any publisher/developer revitalizing a series, but this is arguably where Capcom has excelled these past few years. You don’t need to replicate the control set to make a new game feel like an old one. It’s what’s baked deeper into the game that matters most.

At its best, Dead Rising made the player feel like they had the upper hand just enough to encourage a bit of risky experimentation, but was never afraid to punish overconfidence, either by the smart placement of its zombie hordes or by the sudden panic-inducing reminder of a time-sensitive event almost being out of reach. Few games achieve such a wonderful bounce between goofing off and facing dire situations as well as Dead Rising did.

Goofing off is another key component necessary in the thick soup that makes up the essence of Dead Rising. Again, the exact nature and level of it has been misunderstood in the sequels, or worse, poorly balanced with an attempt to be more serious. That weird disconnected way some horror films of the 80s had about them is also present in the make-up of the original Dead Rising, and in both cases, it makes for a more memorable experience because of how casually nonsensical they can be. Having story is fine, and should still be a part of things, but it can afford to be handled lightly and be a touch absurd if it’s to capture the tone of Dead Rising as it should be.

Most importantly of all, if ever there was a good time to give Dead Rising another shot with less risk for Capcom, this is it. The recent excitement over Dead Space being remade (even if that’s not without some concerns), and a strong time for horror games in general, shows that there’s bound to be an audience, both old and new, out there for more Dead Rising. Any excuse to give this series the chance it deserves to be back in the spotlight, and to erase the unpleasant memory that was Dead Rising 4 and its horribly Hollywood version of Frank West as the final time we got to mow down hordes with a shopping trolley.

Actually, now I think about it, the most important thing is to ensure Frank West doesn’t get a makeover. Give us back our unpleasant war-covering weirdo, please.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3676883/capcom-needs-give-dead-rising-another-shot/

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