An Apocalyptic Playground
As an exclusive title for the Xbox One, it aims to not only demonstrate the power of the next generation console, it also aims to (more importantly) let players loose in a virtual playground where all the toys are capable of inflicting grievous bodily harm. Games featuring zombies are a dime a dozen in this day and age, and their saturation within the media means that anything zombie-related needs to stand out. With this in mind, as well as Dead Rising 3 being the third title in the series, can it survive the horde and survive on its own?
B Movie Glory
What’s immediately striking in Dead Rising 3 is the story; it comes straight out as a cliche Hollywood B movie, with stereotypical characters, hammy acting, with little-to-no deep emotional connection. While this would normally be a negative point to most games as well as movies, I feel it works to aid the overall feel of the game. With the almost-predictable story and over-the-top characters, Dead Rising 3 feels almost like a parody on the whole zombie genre, where not only the player knows, but the characters within the game do too.
Dead Rising 3 finds you in the shoes of Nick Ramos, a mechanic in the city of Los Perdidos. Set 10 years after the outbreak in Fortune City seen in Dead Rising 2, the player joins Nick’s story mid-outbreak, with Los Perdidos virtually overrun from the outset. Nick is part of a group of survivors trying to escape the city. While zombies alone would be enough of a threat, Nick and the other survivors have to contend with the Government’s perfectly logical and ethical resolution to this outbreak: blowing the city to kingdom-come in 5 days time.
And that’s pretty much it.
Like every cliche B movie, along with the ‘get the hell out of town’ motivation, Dead Rising 3 includes a good old fashioned cover-up, a love interest, and a touch of destiny. There’s something for everyone, and the great thing is that none of these elements are laid on too thick, and actually are believable given the unlikely circumstances.
The story is pretty much barebones, used to set up the gameplay more so than drive the player forward. It takes a backseat in Dead Rising 3’s proceedings. It’s refreshing as it’s not trying to weigh you down with heavy emotions constantly seen in many zombie dramas. Letting the player tell their own story in an open world has been the Dead Rising series’ method of operation. It follows a similar structure seen in previous Dead Rising titles; giving the player a certain amount of days to follow along and complete the ‘true’ story if they so wish. The game features a day and night cycle, with various windows of opportunity to complete certain tasks less they be lost forever. This is a neat mechanic, but in Dead Rising 3 I never felt the tension to complete everything. I felt way too much time was given to complete events compared to previous titles, which sometimes forced you to proceed with one task through the sacrifice of another.
All in all, Dead Rising 3 isn’t trying to tell a serious story. It’s all about having fun. It’s easy to see this in any of the game’s cutscenes. As the player is able to dress Nick up in a variety of clothes littered around Los Perdidos, these clothes are seen in cutscenes. While a group of survivors are trying to explain their dire situation to Nick, he’s trying to empathise with them while wearing a Shark outfit or mankini. It’s almost like Nick knows the whole zombie schtick is everywhere these days, so he’s trying to have some fun with it.
Fun At A Time Like This
Fun is the name of the game with Dead Rising 3. It’s basically a gigantic playground, where Capcom have giving the player the tools, and it’s up to them how they use them. As stated before, the game is fully open world, with a few areas blocked off until certain requirements are met. If players feel like giving the main story a miss, then so be it; go and make your own fun, there’s plenty of things to do. The world of Los Perdidos is seamless, with no loading times in between areas. The downside to this though is the lengthy load times when booting up or leaving a game. It’s a minor gripe, but it doesn’t seem too ‘next generation.’ It’s also worth mentioning the navigation as well. It’s pretty poor. A waypoint is all you have to go by, and the numerous dead ends and wrong turns scattered around the world make traversing it a case of trial and error until you learn your way around.
Aside from the main story objective, players can seek out side missions. These missions have time restraints, so players may have 1 in-game day to complete it before it’s failed for that playthrough. Side missions usually involve helping stranded survivors, usually escorting them somewhere or retrieving things for them. This can be fraught with danger, as people who know me understand that having to escort NPCs is hands down the worst task in video game history. Upon completion, the player is rewarded with PP, which acts as DR3‘s experience points. Alternatively, Nick may receive a special weapon or item from the survivors, some of who may even choose to join you as you frolic around. I found that these NPCs could adequately handle themselves, as long as I could equip them with decent combo weapons. I found it quite annoying though when I’m hacking away at a zombie’s jugular with a katana, only for said survivor to blindly run up to me mid-swing.
But hey, it’s dog-eat-dog world right?
Apart from your standard survivor side mission, special side missions exist in the form of psychos, and any fans who’ve played previous Dead Rising games will know the deal here. They exist as mini-bosses, and function as over the top characters who represent the 7 Deadly Sins. One could also say they mirror our society, from the obese, scooter-driving food-lover, to the image conscious gym junkie. Psychos have large amounts of health, and defeating them not only means reaping huge PP rewards, but also the added bonus of a new custom weapon or access to a previously locked building. The only negative with these psychos that that they stand little challenge. Basically all you have to do is memorise their attack pattern and go in for the kill, but this complaint is not unique to Dead Rising.
All actions result PP, which allow players to level up their health, inventory slots, learn new skill moves, among others. This allows players to customise the character to suit their playstyle, although all characters will become identical once level 50 has been obtained. It is neat to build up to that point though. Some real thought has to go into what you spend your Attribute Points on. Do you go for the extra range damage, the increased health, or bigger inventory. That’s the decision each player has to make.
One of the best features from Dead Rising 2 makes an appearance: weapon creation. No longer needing a workbench, players can craft new weapons as long as they find the corresponding blueprint scattered around Los Perdidos amongst the game’s other collectibles. This is the bread and butter of Dead Rising 3. The great thing here is the addition of levels of weaponry. You can create a basic combo, then another blueprint will enable you to ‘level up’ that combo to an even more powerful and (let’s face it) ridiculous weapon. For example, players can make the ‘Grim Reaper’ by combining a scythe and a katana. Then with the addition of a gas canister, the Grim Reaper becomes a ‘Fire Reaper’. These are hands down the most enjoyable types of weapons to unleash on the Los Perdidos horde.
Vehicles can also be slapped together to create masses of mayhem allow the player (and their co-op buddy) to smash through waves of the undead. Normal vehicles have a lower level of damage resistance, so making combo vehicles is the way to traverse long distances. Slapping two vehicles requires the use of a blueprint, which are either earned through levelling up or found throughout the world in all the little nooks and crannies. There are some pretty wild rides; from the mini bike that has boosters, to the fireworks van that has forks on the front. However, my personal favourite is the most prolific vehicle: the Rollerhawg. There is no greater pleasure in gaming than grinding thousands of zombies effortlessly into the pavement.
That’s no understatement. There are literally thousands of zombies.While games such as Forza and Ryse may be used to demonstrate the graphical power of the Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 highlights the processing grunt under the hood. It looks like there is literally an endless wave of zombies crammed into Los Perdidos. It’s truly impressive and somewhat scary to turn a corner only to lay eyes on a sea of undead. While Dead Rising 2 amped up the number of zeds on screen compared to the original, Dead Rising 3 claims to be able to render 3 times as many zombies on screen that Dead Rising 2 could muster. It not only makes getting from Point A to Point B that much tougher, on numerous occasions I ended up going off on a tangent and losing track of time due to the weird and wacky things I could find to smash into a zombie’s ugly face.
Next Gen Gore
While the visuals are not the best, they are pretty impressive considering the amount of zombies are present on screen. It features a grainy quality which, while fits the mood early in the piece, serves to become a bit of an annoyance as time goes by. The game does suffer from pop-in on zombies and items, which can be a bit immersion-breaking when you have to wait 5 or so seconds on some occasions for them to reappear. Not to mention an explosive barrel rendering in the splitsecond before you’re about to drive over it… While open world games in the past have sacrificed graphic quality in order to present a greater quantity of models, I must say that Dead Rising 3’s models still are pretty impressive. No only is Nick the only character with detailed modelling, the supporting cast of survivors are also highly-detailed, with subtle movement in their faces highlighting the terror of their current situation.
The sound is nothing to write home about, pretty much doing its job adequately. The sound effects themselves are spot on though, with zombies groaning and moaning, the highlight being the sound they make as a chainsaw slashes them in half. All weapons and vehicles sound meaty, as if they carry substantial weight as the player unleashes them on the unrelenting zombie horde. In a cool little twist, the Kinect sensor allows you to shout into the microphone, which can attract zombies to your position in order to set of specially-laid traps. I did have this backfire on me however, when people would walk into the room and talk to me, unknowingly setting zombies onto me. For once I can say my fiance was the death of me.
Co-op makes its return after the inclusion in DR2, and is a hell of a lot of fun to play. It is seamless, with no real alterations to the way you play; you can play just as you would by yourself. Nothing much really changes, except in co-op, vehicles have secondary positions that allow the other player to operate turrents, etc. With the Xbox One’s party system, it can be a pain in the ass trying to get a game going with a friend, as you must be in an Xbox Party alone with them, then invite them to your game from the pause menu. However, the pain is worth it, as mowing down hordes of the undead is only better with two of you doing it.
+ Thousands of zombies on screen to massacre
+ Doesn’t take itself too seriously
+ Multiple playthroughs
– Lengthy loading times entering/leaving the game
– Poor Map Navigation
– Occasional pop-in with zombies/items
Dead Rising 3 is a great launch title for the Xbox One. Not only because is it an exclusive title to a widely popular gaming franchise, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play. It gives players plenty to do, my playthrough lasted 10-15 hours, with roughly 40k+ zombies killed. There is longevity to be had here through the multiple endings players can reach. While it’s not the graphical masterpiece people would be expecting from next gen consoles, the visuals are impressive for what Dead Rising 3 portrays on screen. However, visuals aren’t everything, what’s important is that Dead Rising 3 is fun. It gives you access to a huge playground to explore, and gives you the tools to maim its inhabitants.