Welcome to the next-generation of zombie bashing.
Dead Rising 3 was the first game that demonstrated the power of the Xbox One as I was frantically jumping between next-gen demos at E3. It’s not just the pretty graphics, the darker tone or even a new protagonist the sets Dead Rising 3 apart from anything you could have played on Xbox 360: the sheer number of zombies on screen is astronomical.
The soon to be nuked city of Los Perdidos is riddled with zombies. Vehicles offer little sanctuary ploughing through hundreds of the feisty buggers in dense intersections, but at least provide some protection from the relentless attacks that will leave you fighting to survive a horde in the middle of the endless world. Zombies lack intelligence, but rely on basic instincts. They're attracted to light and will bash into each other if you fire a flare into the distance, but they’ll also rush in a wild pack if they hear you jumping atop an overturned car and do whatever it takes to get up there, in a clumsy, single-minded sort of way.
Dead Rising 3 will immediately push you to team up with buddies based on how you want to play. There are options for the perfectionist, the speed-runner, casual and hardcore players in jump in/out play, or those who want to be left alone.
Killing zombies is a lot more fun with a friend, and XP with chapter unlocks can be carried over into your own game.
Unlike previous games, there’s no loading to cancel zombies in pursuit — although they won’t enter the hanger that fuels main missions or other safe houses — because it’s a live streamed world that isn’t disturbed by entering a door. The interior of a building doesn’t need to load because that part of the world syncs long before you get there. Los Perdidos never stops.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the next-generation.
The sheer number of zombies on screen is astronomical.
Set a decade after the events of Dead Rising 2, a nationwide zombie outbreak is on the brink of decimating the human race. New protagonist mechanic Nick Ramos is following the footsteps of Frank West and Chuck Greene, as seemingly the only man capable of doing anything to get the survivors to safety and out of a city that is bound for imminent annihilation.
Story Mode revolves around Nick’s intriguing tale, which is full of more twists than previous games, and gives you plenty of time to explore Los Perdidos, complete side missions and rescue stranded survivors. Without the endless countdown, it's much easier than its predecessor and by rushing past some of the optional extras, less then two of the six days had elapsed when I finished the final chapter.
Nightmare Mode, meanwhile, is akin to the Dead Rising experience of old. It’s packed with more challenging enemies, revives the never-ending countdown clock and forces you to suffer the consequences of your actions — nothing can be done to rectify a failed objective, whereas Story Mode allows chapters and checkpoints to be restarted. It’s far more challenging and the Dead Rising 3 experience veteran fans need to have.
Both modes are anchored around Nick’s technical crafting abilities, taking weapon combinations to another level of insanity. Most fuse two deadly melee weapons together, like the Sledgesaw, while others require some outside-the-box thinking, like a machete attached to a remote control helicopter's blades and a shotgun and assault riffle taped together. All of these combos can only be created once Nick has found the blueprint, which nearly always sits next to the exact items you need to assemble another outrageous machine of death, and can now be made anywhere, without the crafting bench.
Crafting extends to vehicles, which have a much larger role to play in surviving Dead Rising 3. Not only are they a means of transport, running around the zombified world more than twice the size of its predecessor is a recipe for certain death, they become deadly weapons in their own right. A steamroller does a slow but reliable job of squashing zombies, but combine it with a motorbike, and you’ve got spike-ladled ride gunning for the world record.
However, there are only 28 standard vehicles before considering combos and you’ll need to spend precious attribute points for more options to be unlocked. The flimsy driving controls also don’t match those when on-foot and some rides, like motorbikes, have a mind of their own when to comes to acceleration.
QUIET! Kinect is always listening in Dead Rising 3. It's used immediately in the opening few minutes, having you shake the controller to loosen the grip of a grappling zombie. This can be turned off and replaced by button controls.
More useful is the ability to shout something to lead zombies towards you. Conversely, if you accidentally let out a little scream when trying to sneak past, they’ll pick up on your location. Voice commands can also be used to revert Nick to his original clothes by saying “change clothes” — extremely useful after mistaking slipping into a cocktail dress.
Those attribute points need to be spent wisely, as the driving force behind combat skills, health, crafting prowess and all-round survival. If you’re finding the going too tough, particularly during Story Mode, the restart screen will direct you to try more side missions to build XP. Like previous games, these will consistently come through on the radio and expire after a short amount of time. Most can be skipped, but completing at least a couple of Survival Training missions is recommended. They present a challenge like kill 50, 70 or 100 zombies with a vehicle within a minute to directly earn attribute points, rather than wait to be rewarded as Nick’s level increases.
Like the main story, most side missions are fetch quests involving recovering some nonsensical item from across town because Mrs. Needs-her-briefcase is worried about being sued by a business partner turned zombie. Most will offer a helping hand in return and fight alongside you when called upon from the Survivors Board.
Nick’s woes dig much deeper than either Frank or Chuck’s, as a mysterious but seemingly insignificant tattoo proves a decisive factor in the survival of mankind. However, gameplay to match the narrative starts to lose its way come the third chapter when Dead Rising 3 almost forgets it’s a zombie game. A frustrating period has you killing nothing but SWAT teams and outlaw gangs that inexplicably take considerably more force to be downed than an entire horde of zombies. The human goons frustratingly unleash a barrage of bullets from afar, ignoring the undead lingering around. Without the side missions, Dead Rising 3 flirts with becoming too gun heavy.
It soon rallies, and like past games the bosses are mostly psychopaths seemingly unaware of the dire situation about to befoul them. Some of them are hectic blazes of glory while others had me on the verge of hurly my pristine new controller at the screen — achievement unlocked: first Xbox One game to make me swear.
For all its next-gen flair, Dead Rising 3 will inevitably be remembered as a launch game. It becomes a little too repetitive, especially if you’ve played the past games recently, and the larger map doesn’t do much worthwhile. In fact, its mazy structure full of streets blocked by vehicles you can’t use, like cement trucks and buses, is just annoying. Jumps are employed as a device to permit driving one way but forcing you to find an alternate route on the return journey, prompting needless confusion. I never familiarised myself with much of the layout, and the map’s omission of such blockages means it is useless as a journey planner. It doesn't do anything terribly, but looking back and contrasting to the original Dead Rising on 360, I can't shake an inclining that in a couple of years we'll retrospectively look back and realise the world could have been so much more.
Dead Rising 3‘s beauty is best summarised by a fat man named Gary. Despite lumbering around like a fast food addict, I couldn’t help but stare at the stubble in his flailing neck. It, fat man stubble, looked amazing.
Visually, Dead Rising 3 is a stunning beast, as one of the best looking Xbox One launch games. Nick and his posse of survivors look fantastic, whether he’s wearing the default costume or one of Dead Rising’s many iconic quirky outfits that join him in the cutscenes rendered in-game. I could gush about the attention to detail given to the starring characters, or complain about all the bad guys looking exactly the same, but Dead Rising 3‘s beauty is best summarised by a fat man named Gary. Despite lumbering around like a fast food addict, I couldn’t help but stare at the stubble in his flailing neck. It, fat man stubble, looked amazing.
Dead Rising 3 is clearly one of the standout Xbox One launch games, but isn’t without its problems. I’m not thrilled with the map design, it’s got repetition issues and some of the boss fights are disastrous, but Dead Rising fans know to expect that. What it does well is usher in a new generation with technical achievements that wouldn’t have been possible on Xbox 360, hilariously savage weapon and vehicle combos, and good old fashion zombie bashing fun with more blood and severed limbs than you could possibly imagine.
achievement unlocked: first Xbox One game to make me swear.
achievement unlocked: first Xbox One game to make me swear.
Well that ain't hard.
Go play Ghosts. Swearing will ensue