Developer: Capcom Vancouver
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: November 22nd, 2013
Available On: PC, Xbox One
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the Xbox One. There may be differences between versions.
Dead Rising has always been a favorite series of mine. I always found the combo of humor and seriousness to be a lot of fun, and taking on massive hoards of the undead with whatever I could lay my hands on just proved to add to that. Dead Rising 3 aims to take the series to even bigger heights, and I found it to easily be the best entry in the series to date.
Dead Rising 3 follows Nick Ramos, a mechanic who gets trapped in the city of Los Perdidos during a zombie outbreak. After he and a few other survivors manage to hold up for a while they discover that the army is planning to firebomb the city in one week and need to get out before that happens. What follows is a tale of government conspiracies, zombie apocalypses, and people going mad when society collapses. The game is constantly toeing the line between being super serious and super silly, and it’s a combo that works really well. One minute the game is making me feel for a few characters as they explain everything that they lost thanks to the outbreak, and the next I’m fighting an overweight woman on a motorized scooter. If you don’t go into this game expecting it to be super serious all the time then I think you can really pull a lot out of it.
Los Perdidos is overrun with zombies and now Nick needs to get through them while completing various tasks. Like in past Dead Rising games there’s over 300 weapons to help him complete this. Basic things like 2x4s and chairs and tables can be picked up and used to smack zombies around, and each weapon feels unique enough to be worth at least one run. Better yet: as I explore Los Perdidos I could find blueprints that let me combine weapons in unique and interesting ways. Oh sure, nails and a baseball bat get a nailed bat. But combine a handgun and boxing gloves? Well then I got “jazz hands”, which let me punch bullets at zombies. Now that’s awesome. The game also now features weapon lockers to make finding my favorites a lot easier. After using a weapon at least once I could pull it out of a weapon locker at any point, letting me focus on the fun of zombie killing rather than going on a scavenger hunt for that one sword I liked.
Combat in Dead Rising 3 is simple enough, with my ability to fight zombies tied to light and heavy attacks. I could also hold down the heavy attack button to preform a ground attack. There’s no combos, and it’s really more about trying to get away from massive swards of zombies rather than to kill every single one. Of course, some weapons are guns and allow you to aim and shoot like any regular third person shooter, something that’s a good improvement over past Dead Rising games. After chaining enough kills I also could use special execution moves. A lot of the weapons have unique ones and preforming them got me extra PP points to level up with. The hoards of zombies that I fought were mostly the same: get in close and try to bite me. Sometimes there were a few special zombies though: football players would charge and tackle, firemen would swing axes, and military and police zombies would attempt to spray bullets wildly. Psychopath enemies also helped mix things up, a biker gang throws molotovs at Nick while the army can actually accurately shoot back.
For the first time in the series vehicles also play a much bigger role. Usable vehicles are scattered around Los Perdidos and can be hopped into at any time. Just like weapons I could combine vehicles to often interesting results. For example, an ambulance and a bulldozer can be combined to make an electricity shooting death machine. Yet all these vehicles don’t really make getting around the city easy. Los Perdidos isn’t that big, but it feels like it takes a while to get anywhere thanks to all the obstacles constantly in my way. I felt like I constantly had to abandon and find new vehicles, take long routes to avoid barriers (that may not even be barriers since the map doesn’t display all of them correctly), and try to figure out what on Earth is ever going on with that long central highway bit.
Like past Dead Rising games there’s a time limit to messing around in the world, this time I got seven days rather than the usual three. There’s plenty of time to get the whole story and all the side quests done though, and still explore and find everything I wanted to find. Like usual, side quests often had me helping various survivors of the zombie apocalypse. The game has 25 survivors that could join my crew, and at any time I could have between 1 to 5 (depending on the skills I took) following me. Each survivor has their own stats, background, and preferences towards weapons. Each one could also permanently die so I sort of had to baby the survivors. Thankfully, sending them away is as simple as finding a safe house and in the end I chose to mostly play solo out of fear of losing my survivors. That said, if I didn’t want to play solo Dead Rising 3 also allows a second player to join in the fun and play as Nick’s trucker friend Dick. Yes, Nick and Dick. Seriously.
While there’s plenty of side quests available for Nick to complete, there’s also PP Trials scattered around the city. These required me to complete a specific task, such as killing zombies with a specific weapon type or race around the city, and would award me based on how well I did. For some weird reason all of these challenges required me to bring my own toys and would not provide me with whatever was needed to complete the challenge. This often led to me getting to a challenge, finding out that I needed something I didn’t have, scouring the city to find that one thing, and in the end forgetting which challenge I was even trying to complete in the first place. As such the PP Trials eventually just ended up ignored. There’s also an abundance of collectables to find. If, you know, you’re into that sort of thing.
Being an Xbox One launch game, Dead Rising 3 also tries to seek for ways to use the Kinect. In this case it’s entirely voice based. I could speak any word in any menu to quick-skip to that option, order my survivors around, or taunt bosses to confuse them for a moment or two. I actually appreciate the taunting as each boss had specific lines I could try to find to make them upset. The aforementioned fat motorized scooter woman freaked out at the line “I’m hungry”, while an angry Chinese weapon shop owner couldn’t stand me telling him to “calm down”. Overall though, I don’t see the Kinect as being necessary and I basically forgot about it after a few hours.
Even with its confusing city and the weird PP Trials, I still greatly enjoyed my time with Dead Rising 3. I personally found it to be the best entry in the series so far, and I can’t wait to see how any future chapters continue to run with this formula. Early Xbox adopters were in for a real treat with such a solid launch title, and I strongly consider this one of the best games on the system still.