Zombie survival has become a genre unto itself. While it may have been the intense realism of DayZ that created the buzz of late, the 2006 Xbox launch-window exclusive Dead Rising will always stand out in my mind as the first true zombie survival title.
Seven years and one mediocre sequel later, Capcom Vancouver has released Dead Rising 3, a far more ambitious outing for the franchise, and quite possibly the most action packed next-gen launch title of the year. The Xbox One has it’s killer game, but that isn’t to say it isn’t without its problems.
Dead Rising 3 is set in the fictional city of Los Perdidos during the early stages of a zombie outbreak. The city has been quarantined, and within the walls blocking them off from the outside world, all hell is breaking lose as the virus spreads and quickly mutates. Our protagonist Nick Ramos, a talented mechanic with a flair for imagination and duct tape has managed to survive the outbreak thus far with a merry band of friends. Unfortunately the government doesn’t care for the handful of survivors within the city limits, and they are planning to bomb the place to kingdom come within the next six days.
Over the course of the main story missions, a plot filled with political motivations, emotional backstabbing and friendship intertwines to deliver something with a little more substance than previous entries into the series. Don’t let that fool you however, if you’re here for the insane combat and ridiculous nature that the Dead Rising series is known for, they still have you covered.
Dead Rising 3 is all about combinations. Blueprints are scattered throughout the world which will reveal the crafting recipes for weapons that can only be explained as ludicrously awesome. An umbrella and dragon head costume creates a Mecha Dragon, but when you add fireworks to the mix you get a fire breathing Flame Mecha Dragon. Some of the other highlights include the Ultimate Buffet Car, Freedom Bear and the Zombie Raker. Unlike the previous game, Dead Rising 3 allows you to create these combinations on the fly without the need of searching for a workbench, allowing the freedom to create and experiment almost instantly out in the wild. As a result, I found myself creating combo weapons every chance I could get, which put a smile across my face as I wrought havoc onto my foes.
Weapons aren’t the only items that can be crafted into combos. Unlocking the food combo skill will enable some questionably tasty items to regenerate your health, but the also combo vehicles.
Dead Rising 3 introduces vehicles for the first time in the series, which is a must considering the size of Los Perdidos. While it’s fine and dandy to steal yourself a sedan, van, motorbike or whatever to cruise the zombie-filled streets, the real attraction is the number of combo vehicles you can create. Nick is a bonafide genius when it comes to mechanoical work, as he whips up a number of devastating vehicles with nothing more than some duct tape and a portable welder. My personal favourite is the Rollerhawg, combining a motorbike with a steam roller.
Watch our preview to see the carnage!
Dead Rising 3 looks decent, but it’s far from the stunning displays of other next-gen titles. At first glance you may be a little disappointed, especially if this is one of the only games you are picking up with your new console, but when you run into the streets and you can see hundreds of zombies shuffling towards you, a sense of dread and awe will surely follow. The sheer number of enemies on the screen is terrifying, which truly adds to the tension when moving throughout the campaign.
Another great addition is the fact that all collectibles are marked on the mini-map, making it much easier for completionists to find everything they need for those sweet achievements. As someone who has made it a mission to get every achievement for every game he plays this generation, I was truly grateful!
So where does this zombie party fall down? The side missions are beyond ridiculous, to a point where if it weren’t for my attempt to get every trophy, I wouldn’t have bothered with them at all. They range from standard “save me from the zombies,” escort mission to “I lost my tarot cards, and despite there being a hundred zombies below, I want you to find all of them and bring them back for no reward.” While each gave me a nice PP boost, they didn’t fit in with the overall tone of the game and I felt like they were nothing more than filler most of the time.
While the introduction of driving is a fantastic addition and a great idea in theory, the execution is definitely off. Each car controls like a boat on the open seas, and while I didn’t expect the team to get it right first try, the fact that the mission design has me driving from one corner of the city to another for most of the game, it became more than a little frustrating towards the end. The fact that there is something new here is exciting, and I would really love them to reiterate and refine it in the next release.
Also the optional Kinect integration just didn’t work for me. Barking orders at my supporters never registered correctly, and telling Nick to drop items took four or five attempts as opposed to a quick press of the DPAD. Not a deal breaker, and it could have something to do with my accent, but it was a little disappointing to say the least.
Yet I can forgive all of these short-comings, simply because Dead Rising 3 is a great deal of fun. Not only does it build on what made the franchise so loveable to this day, it changes up the formula in exciting new ways and gives you more of the same, with a twist. The addition of co-op multiplayer for the entire campaign is an absolute blast, and will no doubt keep people coming back for more with mates a further DLC arrives.
Dead Rising 3 gives you a reason to want the Xbox One. That’s more than most launch titles provide for new hardware.