The scariest element of the original Dead Rising video game wasn't the oil slick of zombies flooding the game's vast shopping mall. It was the game's save system. Series creator Keiji Inafune has heard the screams. The sequel is different.
This summer's Dead Rising 2, set in a city based on Las Vegas, will let players save their progress in multiple save slots.
Does that sound like a minor deal to you? Bear in mind that the original game had just one save slot and essentially required players to accept whatever progress they made by the time they reached their save point — or suffer having to start back at their last one. You could not experiment. You could not nervously save your progress in a second save file or easily go back to an older one to try playing a part of the game differently. You had to accept the singular events of your playthrough. And saving was something you could do rarely at the game's few save points. That made dying in Dead Rising more of a hassle than it is in most video games, because death could mean losing a lot of progress. After all, you couldn't save (or enjoy the benefits of an auto-save) anywhere in the game at any time.
Inafune told me at E3 that he heard the feedback and, with the team on the new game, decided to have some mercy on players — but not completely.
"There's nothing like auto-save in [Dead Rising 2], because we wanted people to decide on their own accord when to save and when not to save," he said through a translator. "If you get into a situation where you choose not to save and you die, that has to be the user's responsibly. We wanted the user to make those tough decisions. That is why we kept auto-save out of the game."
The multiple save slots — an the addition of more places in the game where you can save your progress — should make that lack of auto-saving a little easier.
Fans of the old Dead Rising save-game rules, Inafune respects you too and didn't want to change the save system completely. "There were a lot of people who initially liked that system so we didn't want to alienate them."
I told Inafune that some players would appreciate the change in the save system. What would also be nice, I mentioned, is if the sequel avoids repetitive situations like there were in the first game, where you would clear, say, a courtyard of its Jeep-riding gun-shooting zombie gang only to have that gang reappear in that courtyard later. He laughed. "I'm not going to say 100% that's not going to happen but we've tried to take out all of those most annoying situations and make them a little bit more user friendly."
Dead Rising 2: less annoying than Dead Rising 1. The game is set to ship later this summer.