Platforms: Xbox One
Developer: Capcom Game Studio Vancouver
Genre: Third-person action
Zombies – they’re everywhere now. The Walking Dead is currently cable’s highest-rated show, a fair number of people buy Treyarch’s Call of Duty games because of the Zombie mode alone and Brad Pitt’s World War Z easily banked its $190,000,000 budget in the worldwide box office. These are just a few examples in the sky-rocketing popularity of zombies in the last few years.
But before zombies were seemingly everywhere in the entertainment business, one of the more noteworthy examples of the undead horde’s presence in the video game industry was Xbox 360’s exclusive Dead Rising. The game’s two biggest attractions were its ability to squeeze hundreds of zombies on-screen and being able to fight them with virtually anything you could grab in a shopping mall.
Xbox One’s exclusive launch title Dead Rising 3 is no different in those respects. In fact, it excels in those aspects above and beyond thanks to the technology of the next-gen consoles.
Dead Rising 3 starts out explaining how a zombie virus spread through the fictional city of Los Perdidos in a 72-hour period. From there, you assume the role of Nick Ramos, a likeable do-gooder mechanic with a hazy past.
The story, while predictable at some parts, has some crazy twists and cameos. Unexpectedly, fans will enjoy how an unanswered and forgotten subplot conjured from the original game is finally covered in this game.
What prevents the story from further flourishing, however, is the way the game has you travelling Los Perdidos in an incredibly tedious way even though the driving is more fun than I was expecting. Nearly every story mission had me annoyingly treading back and forth from section to section of the city. Half of that time, the game would require me venturing to the complete opposite side of the map – a map larger than Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 landscapes combined.
The game’s story may be lengthy, but it’s a mirage of sorts. You are forced to drag through familiar territory so much, it makes the longer than it ultimately is and should be.
If anything, it’s a disappointing step-down from its predecessors. Even the first Dead Rising had a fast-travel system and while the second game did not, the size of its world was nowhere near as vast.
Despite these annoying setbacks, the game’s overall premise – to destroy a bazillion zombies using virtually anything you can get your hands on – remains strong and a bigger blast than ever, especially when experienced with one other friend via online co-op.
Akin to Dead Rising 2’s Chuck Greene, Nick can create new weapons and vehicles to fight the zombie masses by combining items, but unlike Chuck, Nick can build on the fly, which is a huge convenience. There are 101 blueprints spread throughout Los Perdidos for you to collect, allowing you to create weapons and vehicles. The combo weapons range from novelties of brief hilarity to holy-crap-that’s-awesome, but they’re all amazing nonetheless, especially the super combo weapons. I mean, how many games allow you to merge dynamite, a light machine gun and a robotic teddy bear to create a lethal killing machine, or a steam roller with a motorcycle for that matter?
Combo weapons are essential though, as there can easily be over a thousand zombies on screen at once, and even more so at night when zombies become stronger and increase in numbers.
Although Dead Rising 3’s visuals are not as pretty when compared to the likes of Ryse or Forza Motorsport 5, when you factor in the size of Los Perdidos, the ludicrous number of zombies on screen, the number of collectibles and side quests to complete, it’s quite a marvel.
The game runs surprisingly smooth (likely due to the day-one update) even in the most screen-cluttering situations, but it comes at the cost of noticeable texture pop-ins. Sometimes, for example, I would have to be merely a few yards away before a discarded newspaper appeared on the ground.
There are a solid number of small changes made to the core gameplay in Dead Rising 3, but they all make the zombie-killing experience all the more enjoyable. Each change is listed out below.
- Auto-saving has finally been implemented.
- It shows you how much health you have lost within each bar.
- Nick can sprint.
- Instead of random increases in your attributes as you level up, you can choose how you want to progress with attribute points.
- New heavy attacks provide different strategies to approaching crowds of zombies.
- Once they are ridded of zombies, Safe Houses allow you to access any clothing, weapons and survivors you stumble upon and switch them out at any time.
- Picking up a book – a permanent increase to a skill of your choice as long as you have it selected – not only doesn’t take up inventory space anymore, but once you pick it up, you are allowed to switch between skills with the other books you have read.
Though you are still restrained by a time limit with the main story, you have over double the time compared to the previous games. Focusing solely on the story during my first playthrough, I was able to complete the story – before the expected final chapter of course – within half of the amount of time I was given.
You will definitely want to accept side-missions though. It not only gives you the chance to explore Los Perdidos, but the Psycho boss battles in which you face off against people who have gone insane amidst all the chaos are awesome as usual. The series has always pulled off these boss battles really well because of how over the top the characters are, and Dead Rising 3 is not exempt from this series signature.
If you are a Dead Rising purist or desire a masochistic challenge in your fight for survival, Nightmare Mode may push you to your limits. In Nightmare Mode, you are given three days to complete the story and you can only save using bathrooms. As someone who has been a fan of Dead Rising since the original title, it was welcoming to see this mode could be selected when I first booted up the game.
Kinect can actually be used in some pretty useful ways. Aside from being able to navigate everything in the menus using your voice, Kinect is useful in a few different ways. You can tell your partners where to go, distract zombies by shouting at them and taunt bosses/psychos by yelling phrases like “You’re crazy!” It’s not a whole lot of choice, but they are nice extras to have for the game.
I was not expecting to have as much fun as I did with Dead Rising 3. All of the small changes they have made combined with the technology of next-generation consoles easily makes this the best Dead Rising in the series. Finding a blueprint to create a new combo weapon or turning to the next corner only to find hundreds of zombies in your face is exalting. Los Perdidos is loads of fun to explore, but with the game forcing me to tread back and forth through the same areas over and over again for nearly every story mission gets tiresome, especially when there is no fast-travel system, something the first game from 2006 had. If you had to narrow your choice down to a single Xbox One launch game, Dead Rising 3 would be a great choice. It’s just good ole dumb zombie-killing fun.
+ So many zombies on-screen!
+ Runs surprisingly smooth
+ Several small improvements add to experience
+ The crazy weapon and vehicles combos
- Forces players to pace back and forth through Los Perdidos too much
- No fast-travel
- Noticeable texture pop-ins
The Score: 8.5
Robbie Key is the Nintendo editor for Analog Addiction, entertainment editor for the Pine Log newspaper at Stephen F. Austin State University, news editor for Worlds Factory and blogger for IGN. Follow his completely relevant Twitter updates, watch his awesomtacular YouTube videos, and view his LinkedIn profile.