The game focuses on the exploits of Frank West, a photojournalist investigating why the fictional town of Willamette, Colorado has been sealed off by the Colorado Army National Guard. Frank is dropped on top of the city's mall by helicopter; he tells the pilot, Ed DeLuca, to return in 72 hours. Upon entering the mall, Frank finds a group of survivors barricading the front entrance to the mall. The zombies are eventually let in by a panicked old woman named Lindsay Harris looking for her dog, a toy poodle named Madonna. A United States Department of Homeland Security officer named Brad urges everyone to retreat to the security room. Frank is the only one to reach the room with Brad and upon entering, the janitor, Otis Washington, welds the door shut. If the player fails to make it to the stairs Frank falls unconscious and is rescued by Otis and brought to the security room. Part of the same cut scene plays upon exiting the room. Brad then leaves the security room via the air ducts. Jessie, also of Homeland Security, recognizes an old man she identifies as Dr. Barnaby in one of Frank's photos, but neither Brad nor Jessie are willing to share what they know. After receiving a transceiver and map from Otis in order to be kept informed of the mall's events, Frank returns to the mall through the air ducts. He encounters survivors who need his assistance to the security room, as well as other people driven to madness by the zombie infestation, known as Psychopaths.
As the story unfolds, Frank runs into Jessie who suffered from a sprained ankle when she falls backwards trying to avoid Frank almost hitting her with a fire extinguisher after he mistakes Jessie as a zombie sneaking up from behind. She then tells Frank she was on her way to help Brad who is being gunned down by a mysterious man named Carlito. To make up for his accident he asks Jessie for her gun and proposes to go in her place to help Brad, she eventually agrees. Upon defeating him Carlito retreats through the air vents. Brad then thanks Frank for assisting him, Frank then asked him what he knows about the whole incident but Brad refused to tell him anything, but upon Frank bribing Brad with the picture of Dr. Barnaby, Brad then reveals that he and Jessie are United States Department of Homeland Security agents and that they were looking for Dr. Barnaby. Frank then reveals that he took the photo at the Entrance Plaza. Brad and Frank then travel back to the Entrance Plaza to find Barnaby who locked himself inside a store and tells Brad he will not leave until he guarantees safe passage out of the mall. They then go back to the security room where later on the monitors they see Carlito tying Dr. Barnaby above a crowd of zombies. Upon his defeat Carlito then turns and shoots Brad hitting him in the leg but Brad shoots back hitting Carlito in the chest, Carlito then escaped by jumping off the 2nd floor balcony, Frank then rescues Barnaby and they return to the security room. Later in the security room Jessie questions Dr. Barnaby while Frank goes out to get medicine for Brad's gunshot wound. At the pharmacy he runs into a psychotic store manager named Steven who is holding a girl hostage in his modified shopping cart. (The girl who Frank encountered earlier at the Entrance Plaza) Upon defeating the psychopath the woman runs away before Frank could talk to her. He returns to the security room with the medicine and starts watching the security monitors. When seeing the woman again he goes after her, but upon finding her she hops on her motorcycle and begins to attack Frank. Upon defeating her she explains that the man shooting at them was her brother and tells Frank that she would bring Carlito with her once his wounds have healed and the three would meet in an unfinished store in the Northern Plaza at midnight. Upon waiting at the rendezvous point Isabela comes bursting inside being attacked by zombies, after killing the zombie that had Isabela pinned she tells Frank that Carlito refused to come and shot Isabela in the shoulder. Frank then carries her back to the security room, where she fell unconscious from her gunshot wound.
The zombie outbreak in Willamette is only the tip of the iceberg; as Isabela later explains, Carlito has much bigger plans. Hidden beneath the mall are five bombs that when detonated will propel immature queen larvae into the stratosphere, making a worldwide zombie pandemic a possibility. While Frank is trying to grab the bombs he is attacked by Carlito. Upon Carlito's defeat another cut scene plays where his van crashes and Carlito flees from the scene with Brad in hot pursuit. Frank then rounds up the remaining bombs, puts them in a shopping cart and runs them out of the maintenance tunnels. Meanwhile, Brad and Carlito have their last showdown in a room located next door to the maintenance tunnels, which ends with Carlito getting shot in the chest again by Brad and Carlito knifing Brad in the shoulder. While stunned Brad is knocked outside into the maintenance tunnels and is faced with a large zombie Horde approaching him. Upon completing the mission if the player returns to the maintenance tunnels and goes to a certain area, a secret cut scene will play, Frank talks to Brad one last time who became infected by bites to his stomach by the zombies, Brad becomes zombified after the cut scene finishes. Frank and the remaining survivors turn their attention towards escaping to safety. Isabela reveals that Carlito has a hideout in the mall containing a laptop full of information, as well as a jamming device preventing Jessie from calling for outside help. Frank then escorts Isabela back to the Northern Plaza where Carlito's hideout is located, where she begins to try and crack the password to Carlito's laptop. Frank then receives a call from Jessie on his transceiver to return to the security room so she can show him something. Upon making his way back, Jessie shows recorded footage of Carlito being dragged into the meat processing plant by an unknown person. Upon arriving to the meat processing plant Frank finds Carlito being hung on a meat hook by Larry, the mall's butcher that gone insane. Mistaking Frank as a potential customer he prepares to turn Carlito into ground meat for Frank, Frank then tries to persuade Larry, saying he had other ideas in mind and just wanted Carlito, which failed and Frank had to fight and kill Larry. Upon getting Carlito down from the meat hook, Frank tried to get Carlito to tell him the password. Carlito never told Frank the password but he did say that his plan was not over and he gave Frank his locket and told him to give it to Isabela, Carlito died shortly after from his wounds. Upon making it back to Carlito's hideout, Isabela was still unable to crack the password. Frank then breaks the news to Isabela of her brother's passing, and upon Carlito's request gives her his locket. The locket then helped her think of the correct password, which was Pachamama. (Which you heard Carlito say a few times throughout the game.) She then gains access to the computer and shuts down the jamming array.
Jessie places a call for help, only to be told that another cleanup mission has been authorized instead; special forces soldiers arrive in the mall shortly thereafter. Shortly after, two special forces officers arrive to the security room before the operation began and one of them offers to spare Jessie's life if she signs a written agreement to keep quiet about the zombie outbreak, at that moment Jessie is now zombified from Dr. Barnaby's earlier bite and attacks the officer. The second officer walks in after hearing noises to find zombie Jessie consuming the corpse of the other officer. Frank makes his way back to the security room, to find it is empty except for the now two dead officers and zombie Jessie wandering around the security room. A note reveals that Otis has commandeered a helicopter and flown himself and the remaining survivors to safety. After avoiding capture by the special forces soldiers, Frank makes his way back to Carlito's hideout and remained there till the special forces did their job and wiped out the mall of zombies. By 10:00 AM, two hours before the helicopters arrival, the mall is wiped clean of all zombies and a cut scene plays showing the Special Forces making their grand exit, Frank then asks Isabela to come with him to the helipad; she tells Frank to forget about her and save himself. Frank then makes his way through the now completely empty mall and made his way back to the helipad to meet Ed. The helicopter arrives on time, but as Ed prepares to land a stowaway zombie aboard the helicopter attacks him, causing Ed to lose control of the helicopter and crash into the clock tower in Leisure Park at the center of the mall. The game seemingly ends as Frank slumps to his knees in defeat, doing nothing to avoid the small group of zombies approaching him.
In the beginning of issue #1 of Dead Rising: Road to Fortune, Frank is sitting atop of the tank. After Isabela's calls for help, he eventually snaps out of his shocked state and grabs an Assault Rifle from the interior of the Tank. After shooting his way to Isabela and rescuing her, the duo spot a helicopter crossing overhead that lands just outside the mall. However, a horde of zombies blocks their way, and Frank is out of ammo. By improvising using the rifle's grenade launcher, they escape on the helicopter.
The citizens of Willamette who were not initially killed or rendered undead by the zombie outbreak are referred to as "survivors." Many survivors can be escorted safely to the security room, and will often provide Frank with competent cover if given firearms or other weapons; others may be injured, cowardly, traumatized, hostages, or even drunk, requiring Frank to lead them directly to the exit point and possibly rendering him unable to use his weapons. Otis will periodically update Frank with information on certain survivors and their locations, though some survivors must be found without assistance. Certain missions or "unannounced" survivors are time-sensitive: if Frank takes too long to begin a scoop their health will decrease, and in some cases of large rescues from certain psychopaths they may die off one by one. The player may also choose to leave the survivors to die, or kill them himself. Successful rescues will earn PP for Frank, with the rescue of certain survivors new missions which are either mutiny or personal requests asked by the survivors. Mutiny missions takes place when a previously rescued survivor begins trying to persuade the other survivors that are in the same room to come with them and leave the security room to reach a goal or destination, if Frank fails to avert the mutiny, all survivors that were in that room in the security area will leave the security room and most likely to face a grim fate. If Frank averts the mutiny, the survivors are spared and Frank is awarded some PP points. What actions you must do to avert a mutiny varies from survivor to survivor. The second type of mission is "personal request" missions. A previously rescued survivor may ask Frank for a favor that can vary from bringing them certain items such as weapons or performing certain actions, the player is not penalized if they choose to ignore doing personal request missions but completing them does give PP points. 2b1af7f3a8