Dead Rising 3 review
As excited as we are to finally have an Xbox One, as we move into the next generation, it is wise to temper expectation. Walking into any launch window and expecting a Grand Theft Auto V-level of awesomeness is a foolish endeavour. Developers haven’t had years to meticulously learn the system and correctly gauge its potential, they have instead been granted a short window to deliver the best product possible – all the while needing to shine a spotlight on as many of the new console features as possible – to justify the generation leap. Simply put, something had to give.
Capcom Vancouver opted to sacrifice graphical prowess in an effort to deliver the ultimate experience for zombie fans from the Max Brooks school of the undead. And, all things considered, the studio has succeeded in delivering on almost every promise made. If you’re after truly impressive graphics on launch day, Ryse: Son Of Rome and Forza Motorsport 5 has your back. If, however, you’re in the market for an unrelentingly addictive and unquestionably fun title – that the Xbox 360 simply couldn’t reproduce on the same scale – then may we direct your attention to Dead Rising 3.
Even if you’re sick to the teeth of the undead’s shambling assault on every facet of popular-culture, you’ve never played anything quite like this. The sheer number and variety of zombies that Dead Rising pumps onto the screen is immediately impressive: literally hundreds stretch off into every direction. Dead Rising seems to revel in putting you into compromising situations; one of the first sees you helplessly trying to navigate through a sea of red eyes. Clambering onto the top of a vehicle, baseball bat in hand, and just basking in the nauseating amount (and variety) of zombies swarming around you is staggering, and easily an early highlight of the Xbox One launch.
Many modern videogames seem to find success in appealing to the unquenchable bloodthirst that’s deep inside of us all, and thankfully, Dead Rising 3 is purpose built to appeal to those inner demons. The ways in which you can attempt to thin out the hordes is seemingly endless. It rewards inventiveness, though pretty much anything can and will be used as a weapon. You’ll start by gleefully hitting everything in sight with crowbars and wrenches, though it won’t be long before you’re scavenging weapon blueprints from around the city and graduating to the really crazy stuff. We’re talking electric-charged hammers cracking skulls mjolnir-style, robotically-powered teddy bars armed with dual machine guns and boxing gloves that let you rampage through crowds with the power to unleash a barrage of Shoryuken’s. And to think, six months ago we were worried that Dead Rising was sobering up. That notion couldn’t be any father from the truth, look past the gritty, washed-out Walking Dead-inspired visuals and you’ll find a game that still revels in outright insanity – while still delivering the total freedom and amount of zombies that Dead Rising 2 could only dream of.
Capcom has also tightened up the core experience; streamlined the movement systems and even granted new hero Nick Ramos the ability to sprint across short distances. Weapons and items can be grabbed without breaking your stride, food can be consumed on the run and the handy dodge-roll attached to the right stick is a lifesaver. They might sound like small enhancements, but they solve many of the frustrations we’ve harboured across the previous Dead Rising games.
Much of the fun is only possible thanks to the city of Los Perdidos, a sprawling, open-world that quickly showcases the potential, and pitfalls, of these early Xbox One days. The four districts of the city are connected by congested highways, each an opportunity to cause maximum carnage. The liberal placement of drivable vehicles, and the subsequent combinations that can be created, make small work of big crowds. Let’s be clear – Los Perdidos is certainly no Los Santos, but Rockstar will undoubtedly look towards how open the city is for future games. If you see a shop, you can probably go into it and find food, weapons, clothes or collectibles. As you might imagine, the scope and scale of the city – combined with the ridiculous amount of zombies inhabiting its streets and sewers – takes a noticeable toll on Dead Rising 3’s performance. When things start getting heated, and the bodycount really starts to rack-up, the frame-rate begins to shamble below 30fps. It’s disappointing, especially when you consider the irregular pop-up, clipping and general glitching that appears from time to time. It doesn’t spoil the fun, nothing could, but we expected more in the dawn of the next generation.
Capcom Vancouver has clearly attempted to bolt a relatively sombre plot around Dead Rising, though the execution is somewhat lacking. The time mechanic returns, though it has been expanded – meaning there’s plenty of time to fully explore the city before it’s wiped from the map. Sadly, the quests that drive the narrative are rarely more than fetch quests, an obvious way to push us into exploring everything. As you navigate the city streets, you’ll routinely receive calls pointing towards survivors that need assistance or rescuing – which will in turn unlock another fetch quest. We, as Nick, play such a passive part in the apocalypse, he just goes where the rotting flesh takes him and (usually) we are happy to follow.
Sadly, sometimes it takes him into the monotony of Dead Rising 3’s boss battles. You thought Deus Ex: Human Revolution was frustrating? Prepare to introduce new shiny controller to the floor. The difficulty is frustratingly inconsistent, the pace of Dead Rising stumbles once you introduce mechanics reliant on any kind of precision. The same problems carry over to the series’ signature Psycho missions. Most are optional, thankfully, because they often stretch the bounds of satire, at times even bordering on outright offensive stereotyping. The writing in Dead Rising 3 could have done with a general rethink. We appreciate the franchise’s legacy for ramping up the lunacy, but the writing is so poor and juvenile that it’s hard to appreciate. At the very least, the game continually displays your custom clothes in cutscenes and around the world – some of the more poignant plot points are impossible to take seriously when we’re rocking a bloodstained luchador outfit (though it also guarantees a chuckle).
Dead Rising 3 isn’t the most sophisticated start to the Xbox One, but it sure as hell is satisfying. Despite many aspects of the game threatening to derail the fun, there really is nothing that can detract from the unbridled joy to be found in crafting a new weapon or vehicle combo and taking it out for a spin. Even after you’ve spent hours slaying everything in sight, the game never becomes tiresome or boring. With so many collectibles and blueprints ready to be unearthed, there’s always something to drive you through the game, in spite of the generic fetch quests.
Dead Rising 3 isn’t the game that will shift Xbox Ones, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice in avoiding it if you’ve already invited the console into your living room. The scale of the city and simple-yet-engaging combat systems provide plenty of promise for the generation, and we’d certainly love to see Capcom Vancouver return with another instalment, and build on the groundwork it has lain. It might be rough around the edges, but it is way too entertaining to ignore.