Messing with an established franchise can have some rather volatile results and when Dead Rising 3 was first announced for the Xbox One, it set off a powder keg. Not only was the game billed as being darker, the developers said that they were “going for a Call of Duty audience.” This quickly set people running for the hills and despairing over a franchise they loved. After that fallout, Capcom went into damage control mode for the exclusive and showed everyone that it is still campy. But the proof is in the game itself, so now that the Xbox One has been released and along with it, Dead Rising 3, is it still everything fans expect?
Somewhere around ten years after the events of Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Case West, laws have been passed to place a chip inside of everyone who is infected with the zombie virus and this chip is meant to deliver Zombrex so that the chipped person no longer changes, but it also keeps an eye on them courtesy of an implanted GPS tracker.
Despite this new advancement in Zombrex, a new outbreak has occurred in the city of Los Perdidos, California. The outbreak has been in full swing for a couple of days and players step into the boots of Nick Ramos, a mechanic with a number tattooed on his neck while he is trying to find supplies for a group of survivors hiding out in an abandoned diner.
After things quickly go south, the Nick, Dick (the character the co-op partner ends up controlling) and Rick’s boss Rhonda head to her garage to try and formulate a plan of escape after it quickly becomes clear that the group cannot rely on their government to help them. With the help of a survivor hiding out in a ZDC (Zombie Defense and Control) monitoring station that provides Nick with various locations of side-missions, Nick must do whatever he can to escape the infected city.
Thanks to the fact that ten years have passed since the events that took place in Dead Rising 2, it has given a number of story elements some time to mature and develop. Meaning that despite featuring an all new character in a brand new location, Dead Rising 3’s story actually ties multiple plot points together from all three games. Fans of the series will be awestruck by a number of revelations that come to light over the course of the game, including a number of appearances by familiar faces. Multiple endings also return as well as an Overtime mode, meaning that it may take players more than one try to get the best ending.
It is worth noting that the storyline here remains relatively dark as there are multiple conspiracies at work within the government, similar to past games, but just because the main game might feature a number of twists and major reveals, that doesn’t mean that the side-missions and humor that past games were known for have been lost in transition. They’ve just been reduced a bit, but made more meaningful at the same time.
Over the course of the game players will encounter a number of crazy characters, including brand new Psychos who interestingly enough, mimic the seven deadly sins through their actions, various survivors who are completely out of their mind and want the player to complete some rather odd tasks for them, even though it usually means they’ll die in the process and other random occurrences. The random and humorous encounters feel less plentiful than previous games and a number of side-missions have sad consequences, meaning that there is less fun and games this time around and although Nick makes for a more believable main character, he doesn’t have the charm that Frank or even Chuck had in past titles.
The moment that the player steps into the tutorial mission at the beginning of the game, fans of the series will feel right at home as everything is very familiar. Since only a few zombies are in the area and basic weapons are available, the game feels like any other Dead Rising before it except for the fact that the player can attract zombies by saying “Over Here” to the Kinect.
Where Dead Rising 3 immediately shines is as soon as they step out of the beginning tutorial area and directly onto a highway and it might actually take gamers a few seconds to recognize that the prior cutscene has already ended and they are now in control of Nick, as the highway is literally a sea of zombies. Players can obviously choose to fight through the mob but doing so would be suicidal, leaving players with only the option to hop from vehicle to overturned vehicle to stay out of the hands of the undead.
This is far from a one-time scripted occurrence however as the zombies in Dead Rising 3 are so plentiful it is entirely possible to become overwhelmed with over a hundred zombies swarming Nick, forcing even a decently equipped player to make a break for it. As with past games, players earn PP for various actions and stringing along kill combos adds bonus PP to each kill, even allowing for special finishing moves occasionally, allowing the player to level up quicker, though even then a large horde can present quite a problem. However thanks to a number of key gameplay mechanics that have been altered and added into Dead Rising 3, players will likely be able to face down smaller hordes of zombies and plow through others.
You see, while Dead Rising 2 forced players to create combo weapons at a work bench only, Dead Rising 3 allows the player to do so wherever they please, even creating weapons right before heading into a zombie horde. With over a hundred weapon blueprints scattered around the map and learned from survivors, there is almost no limit to the amount of weaponry the player can use against the undead. To make things even more interesting, players can even create combo vehicles with the various modes of transportation that are scattered through a level. So while traveling through an area with a simple motorcycle might be okay for a bit, placing a steamroller on the front of it makes it all the better.
Now you may have seen that I mentioned blueprints and transportation and there is a good reason for the latter. Dead Rising 3’s open world map may not be the largest of its kind, but it certainly is the most dangerous and expansive. Almost every building and rooftop can be explored and numerous collectibles, such as blueprints, tragic death scenes, Frank West statues, random survivors to rescue (though sadly these survivors run off), and ZDC speakers are scattered around the map, making the title one that is absolutely bursting with little collectibles to gather even while you’re fighting against the zombies. To top all that off? Outside of the initial load time when starting the game there are no loading screens during the game itself, meaning that players can cross from one side of the map to the other without pausing once for the game to load a new area.
For those who disliked the time limit of past Dead Rising titles, Dead Rising 3 has all but removed the basic time limit from the standard version of the game. Time still progresses but at an incredibly slow rate and story missions can be done at any time, though side-missions will still vanish if the player takes too long. Along those lines, the game also allows the player to save whenever they want making it easy to sit down and play for a period of time and stop whenever you feel like.
For those who like things a bit more classic, there is the Nightmare mode which brings back a number of the key mechanics that past games are known for. The timer will always be running and it is possible to fail story missions and the only way you can save is through bathrooms. Even zombies feel more aggressive in Nightmare mode, giving Dead Rising 3 a little something for everyone.
Similar to Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 3 features co-op where the second player takes control of the trucker named Dick but this time around the co-op mode has been streamlined. Second players will be able to retain all of the progress made in the campaign, keep any blueprints found in that session and more whenever they switch back to their own game. For those who don’t want to play with other living people, there is also the option to fight with other survivors you have rescued via side missions. These survivors all have various stats and if the player manages to unlock certain skills, they can even take five survivors out with them at a time which creates quite a zombie killing force.
That being said, Dead Rising 3 has more than its fair share of glitches. There were two instances where side-quests could not be completed thanks to the NPC either becoming locked inside of a house or falling through the level, only to respawn and become completely stationary, with no interactions available. Vehicles also tend to glitch into objects often which is a major issue if it just so happens to occur in the middle of a zombie packed highway.
The cut-scenes in Dead Rising 3 deliver a great looking experience as the faces of the characters are incredibly detailed, but while Dead Rising 3 may not have the individual graphical impact that some people are looking for in their next-gen games, it does feature something that past generations could not, an engine capable of producing a true zombie horror apocalypse experience. While in the past it was possible to spawn about thirty or, at the best, fifty zombies in an area, it is now possible to come across hundreds of zombies in an area, with more crawling out of buildings or even air vents to always keep the threat feeling real.
That being said, Dead Rising 3 has toned down the coloration a bit with some more realistic looking colorations and environments. There are still a few strange and colorful stores that can be explored but for the most part the game has lost a bit of its signature aesthetic this time around. It is also worth noting that it is possible to see a few objects appear out of nowhere if you happen to be driving incredibly fast, though they don’t seem to pop-in so much as materialize. There also arises a problem that sees objects randomly floating in mid-air where they can still be picked up and used like normal.
All of the characters in Dead Rising 3 have been given English voice work and for the most part everything sounds pleasant enough with believable characters. Though sadly, as mentioned earlier, Nick does not make for a charming or charismatic lead compared to past games. That being said, the title does feel very atmospheric as it is possible to hear gunshots firing in the distance, the moans of zombies approaching and even Nick making comments whenever he is either approaching or escaping zombies.
One of the special parts of past Dead Rising games is the background music that would play for the various psycho fights that players came across. The various psychos in Dead Rising 3 still feature special background music but sadly it is not only forgetful, but the psychos also tend to be rather easy to defeat this time around, making for a lesser experience this time around.
A lot of people were scared back when Dead Rising 3 was initially shown off and I happened to be one of them. Thankfully I can say that Capcom has proven us wrong by offering an amazing experience that can currently only be found in Dead Rising 3. It might have a few glitches here and there and some of its signature wackiness has been lost, but it still feels like what fans used to love and also delivers an enjoyable storyline that helps tie up a number of loose ends from the series, making Dead Rising 3 a must have for anyone with an Xbox One.
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