Review: Dead Rising 3

Man, the Dead Rising series has been an evolving experience for me, every new instalment has come at a different big stage of my life. Dead Rising came out when I was 13 still absolutely terrified of horror games, thanks to a Resident Evil 4 prank my cousin decided to pull. Dead Rising 2 came out on my graduating year in High-School, I came close, but still never finished it. I like to think it was because of the constant pressure to find Zombrex, but I haven’t really revisited it yet to find out if it was just me being a total wuss. It’s a new generation of consoles, being a console exclusive again, I’m out of the education roundabout and I’m not a total pansy. So instead of playing a real horror game, here’s Dead Rising 3. A game that gives you the opportunity to make a Dildo cannon, so for childish minded people like me can get a quick giggle when the phalic Projectile gets stuck in some poor Zombie’s posterior.

Dead Rising 3 takes places a few years after Dead Rising 2 in the city of Los Perdidos, so you are once again in a world that is well aware of the Zombie menace and are doing their damn best to treat it. Advancing from simple Zombrex Shots to Zombrex chips, automating the process of halting Zombification. Being chipped has also become law so theoretically, it should be impossible for an Outbreak to occur if people follow the Law.

Surprise, it doesn’t work. You play as Nick Ramos, 72 hours after the outbreak started in Los Perdidos. Nick is a simple guy who just wants to find a way out of the city for himself and his friends. However, Nick and his friends quickly find out that the military has more or less decided to secretly declare martial law for some nefarious purpose. Thus you’re thrown into a tale of survival and conspiracy theories, that George A Romero could have written after one hell of a Saturday night. Dead Rising 3 feels like it’s trying to please everybody, instead of taking it in one focused direction. So they decide to meet halfway with a predictable, boring tale with nonsensical moments that feel like they have no place what so ever.

Boy do I ever love it when you’re about to go into a serious story segment, then all of a sudden you’re fighting a guy in an Astronaut suit because, Zombies. It may sound like I’m beating down on the story, but you know what? I actually enjoyed it. Dead Rising 3 has a strange charm to it. Considering that the Zombie Apocalypse is being used as subject matter as much as Macbeth; I find it pretty impressive that I wasn’t bored half to death, and that’s all I ask for from a story like this.

Dead rising has always been praised for the amounts of Zombies it can fit on screen, rather then it’s graphical fidelity. So much so that the original Dead Rising, was rumored to be one of the causes of the Xbox 360 overheating. So Dead Rising makes it’s transition to next gen. Will it blow a hole in the back of your head like that terrible Xbox commercial? No, it won’t. Much like every other launch game in existence, it suffers from it’s share of problems. Thankfully, they are mostly in the presentation. Slow texture load in, audio synching issues, frame rate drops, and the setting is your run of the mill city effected by the zombie apocalypse. Blockades here, zombies there, a small fire every few blocks, just the usual.

The game is by no means terrible looking, matter of fact one of my favourite thing was to put on a suit of Armour and then run around with a Lightsaber (I’m sorry Capcom, I’m not calling it a Laser Sword). Giving Nick a beautiful blood-soaked radiant aura to him, and quite frankly it’s the closest I’m going to get to a Starwars/Splatterhouse crossover. Chances are that you won’t notice much of those details or issues, outside of the cut-scenes. Most likely because of the amount of Zombie Puree being spilled into your Eyeballs is similar to amount of Oil BP has spilled into the Ocean.

If I had to list the reasons why this should by called a “next gen title” (Which is total bullshit by the way, a game is a game regardless of it’s fidelity) The amount of zombies is that reason. I caught myself uttering the phrase “Holy shit, that’s a lot of Zombies” multiple times, it’s really damn impressive how much they managed to put on screen. It even holds up surprisingly well when things get busy, to be honest causing enough chaos to get the frame rate to drop significantly is kinda fun to be honest.

Voice acting is a mixed bag, cut-scenes, story and psychopaths are done really well for the most part. On the other hand a lot of the banter (Idle or otherwise) with survivors are pretty bad unless the specific survivor seems to have a greater purpose down the road. However, I don’t really know if they are trying to more campy then a typical b-grade horror movie or they are just genuinely terrible. One moment I’m listening to an over the top flamboyant personality lure Zombies into a porn studio, next thing I know I’m listening to an insipid secretary that had less personality then my talking Axe. The sound design on the game has me confused, from what I can tell there is no soundtrack at all. If there is, it’s so ambient and quiet that it’s barley noticeable at all. Or there is no soundtrack and they leave it to harmonious groan of hundreds of zombies being sliced, shot, electrocuted, bashed, shattered, blown up, and every other sound your madness makes. Honestly, I’d rather have this then an overly dramatic soundtrack that tries to hard to establish some atmosphere.

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I would like to use the expression “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” with Dead Rising 3, but it’s not necessarily true. While the game as a whole wasn’t broken it was hard to get into, and it had persistent niggling issues that eventually just made the game unplayable for me. It was like the time, when my Toe got zip tied. While it was funny and amusing at first, it quickly became annoying and then just unbearable. Dead Rising 3 cuts off all the zip ties, and gives you Steel capped Boots to kick some ass with. This time killing Zombies is not just a way to get an achievement, but the PP you gain actually means something this time around. A fully featured level up and skill tree system finally in place, not just half assed system in the previous games.

I really like the skill tree, you can finally build your character however you want. Want more melee weapon endurability? It’s there, want more stamina? It’s in there. They even give you the opportunity to forego the blueprint hunting and just put skill points in a certain weapon categories, so you can make any combo weapon that fits your selection. The problem is, that the whole PP gain and levelling up is sort of broken and i’m not sure if it was intentional or not. When you kill Zombies you start gaining a kill streak, which gives you a PP gain multiplier that increases at set intervals. That PP multiplier doesn’t seem to cap at all, it can just keep increasing as long as you keep the streak going; that’s not all too difficult either. People have found ways to level even quicker with this, but it doesn’t take a “MinMax” RPG genius to realise how to do it. Just grab a few Electric crushers and go at it, you will be the level cap and maxed out before you know it.

Since your entire move repertoire composes of a light attack and a heavy attack; combat can become real boring real quick. If there wasn’t over 100 different combo weapons to try out then this would be a real issue. Most of the weapons are retain the Dead Rising whacky humour, so you will often find stuff like Rocket fists and deadly jack in the boxes. They are all fun to use for a while, but since safe houses hold infinite stock of the weapons you have found; you will find what works for you pretty quickly and stick to it. However, I still had fun experimenting all the way though. If you want to try something new, it’s not that hard to find something. This is due to the fact that the map shows all the combo blueprints in your area, which is usually accompanied by the materials needed to make said weapon. Who knew that the zombie apocalypse would be more convenient than a convenience store. To be honest, I have a problem with the fact that it shows where all collectibles in your general area are.

I never really explored, I  just found the combo blueprints marked on my minimap and then headed off on my merry way. I love that the game is structured in a way that keeps you finding new stuff, but it kind of feels like being told I have a surprise party. I still enjoy the end result, I just knew what was coming; this can be narrowed down to preference however and it’s probably a change for the better. While you’re scouring the open world for combo blueprints you’re going to come across some blueprints for the new addition, combo vehicles. These vehicles are creative, the Rollerhawg a combination of a steam roller and motorcycle was my favourite. Though the Streetsweeper that took zombie chunks and shot balls of them was also notable choice. In the end, they are vehicles. Combo vehicles is just a fun way to make it from point A to B rather then get bogged down quickly in a standard vehicle.

Honestly, my favourite change the Dead Rising formula is the Time restriction. This was a problem for many people, me included. While the countdown doom timer is still here, if you’re playing on normal mode it is not a problem at all. The time ticks by so slowly that you will have plenty of time to do all the sidequests and optional zombie killing you like. While Dead Rising purists will scream that it breaks the formula of the game, it’s one of the many changes that make the game feel a whole lot more accessible.

Despite it’s issues, Dead Rising 3 is fun zombie action filled Zombie playing Rompastomp. It’s a great length if you just want to make it through the story, and there is plenty of optional content for completionists. Dead Rising 3 is a fantastic way to kick of Next Gen, I wouldn’t call it a system seller but it’s still pretty damn good.