It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Dead Rising game…but the dead are back & they’ve made the leap to the next generation.
As a launch title for the Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 was always going to have a pretty large task on its hands. On the one side it would have to appeal to early adopters of the new system while also keeping the fans of the series happy.
Thankfully Dead Rising 3 manages to do both & then some…
Dead Rising 3 picks up 10 years after the Fortune City Outbreak (Dead Rising 2) & is set in the fictional city of Los Perdidos, California. You play as Nick Ramos, a young mechanic & the story picks up 3 days into the Outbreak. After an attempt to find supplies in a breached quarantine area fails Nick makes his way back to the local diner where he is holed up with a few more survivors that include his boss Ronda, a trucker named Dick (who a potential co-op player would control) & the ‘illegal’ Annie.
The term illegal is important as in modern day America any person who is infected by a zombie needs to be chipped by the government. An illegal isn’t chipped & continues to use Zombrex the conventional way.
After the diner is over-run by hordes of zombies the group is split up. Nick, Ronda & Dick end up at Ronda’s auto-shop were they see on TV that the government will bomb Los Perdidos in 6 days time once they’ve (supposedly) safely evacuated all the survivors out.
This is effectively when players gain the full freedom of Los Perdidos as Nick. Unlike other Dead Rising games the time limit is now 6 days & there are a number of big changes to the gameplay.
Firstly lets talk about the size of Los Perdidos…it is massive, bigger then the maps of the first 2 Dead Rising games out together & it shows. Almost everywhere is accessible from the start baring a few areas that are locked off for story progression/psycho/survivor missions.
Where as other Dead Rising games rarely needed the use of vehicles you would find it very difficult to navigate around Los Perdidos without one. The map is effectively split into 4 suburbs all connected by bridges, its easy enough to find your way about but it can get frustrating when you find yourself up against a road block that forces you into a lengthy detour. The map doesn’t make these clear unless you really zoom in & eventually it becomes essential to properly plan your route first when making long trips across the city.
Compared to previous Dead Rising games Los Perdidos is a massive leap forward.
It feels so much more accessible & while every shop/building isn’t open to explore so many are you don’t really notice the ones that aren’t. Each suburb has at least 2 safe houses for you to clear out & make safe which once done, mean you can access a weapons locker (all created & picked items can be claimed from these), a clothing locker & a survivor bulletin board.
One of the bigger chances involve survivors….there are several types now that have a few different results. Some are random spawns that require you to clear out the zombies attacking them resulting in a PP bonus but nothing else. Others are the conventional missions that require a chat followed by a collect quest/escort mission of some type. These vary & with results that don’t often see the survivor joining you. Should they come they can be saved & stored in a safe house & accessed at anytime later from the bulletin board. A big difference to previous games sees you able to access & bring survivors you’ve rescued on a mission with you. The extra man-power might just be the tipping point with a tricky mission.
I found that the rescuing of survivors felt a lot less important in Dead Rising 3 but thankfully psychopaths retain exactly what makes them good….how over the top they are. The variety on show here are really interesting & while I did think a few too many were sexed up it wasn’t a huge deal.
Disappointingly they are often far too easy to kill & while the different weapons they use mean you have to have some strategy often it is just easier to run up to them & slash away with heavy attacks (2 types – light & heavy) until they knock you down. Get up & repeat…the only real exception to this rule is the excellent organ harvester psycho that sees you dis-orientated & having to work out which of the 3 walking around is actually the real psycho & not other survivors.
Ultimately the biggest threat comes from the multitude of zombies that plague Los Perdidos & there are a lot of them. The amount of zombies that can appear on screen at once is vastly superior to previous games & there is great variety amongst them. Moving through large crowds is genuinely dangerous & you won’t get through unscathed. Your best bet is to not travel on foot or have some combo weapons to hand.
Yep, combo weapons return on a much grander scale…there is a lot more variety & you no longer need a work-bench to create them. As long as you’ve picked up one of the many blue-prints scattered around the city you can create the combo weapon with the right tools. The only thing you need a work-bench for is creating combo vehicles…the new addition to DR3. Getting around Los Perdidos is a lot more fun in a roller-hog compared to just driving a van.
In addition to the story-line (which is extensive but not always the most interesting) which ties in well with previous Dead Rising games there are plenty of things to do through-out Los Perdidos. Levelling up uses the conventional Dead Rising format…earn PP to level up & in turn learn new moves & improve your stats. Unlike previous DR games this time you can choose yourself which stat to improve ranging from health to speed to smarts.
PP trials see you having to think about what you’re using as a weapon & survival challenges litter the city map offering you additional content although getting gold in all will be tough unless you’re in the higher levels. There are also a huge number of collectibles throughout Los Perdidos that detract from the overall experience. Blue-prints I understand, the tragic endings I quite liked & I could just about muster effort for the speakers you have to destroy but I draw the line at the large number of golden Frank West statues throughout the city that serve no purpose beyond increasing your PP. Other then a name drop at the end of the game this is the only sign of Frank throughout DR3…disappointingly so. The only positive I can give the large amount of collectibles is that it forces you to explore the city more then you might & them appearing on your map mean there not exactly tough to find.
Dead Rising 3 makes efforts to include Kinect & Smart-glass in small & mostly un-obtrusive ways. Kinect can be used to shake off a grabbing zombie by shaking your controller when grabbed (extremely frustrating if using a wired controller as it often dis-connects it) or calling out to zombies/psychopaths to distract them. This is supposed to only register when players are clearly doing so but often I would be running thorough a crowd of zombies & a loud noise nearby would have Kinect thinking I had just called out to the zombies. It’s cool the way they react to the noise but can often leave you in a pickle.
Smart-glass is more useful but really not necessary…you can get additional quests using smart-glass that allows you to unlock air-strikes & drone attacks as well as setting way-points & finding specific shops. It sounds useful but I found it distracting from the game & spent more time pausing to use the app. It sounds like a great idea but it really wasn’t necessary & feels like a gimmick (as the Kinect integration).
Co-op is a lot more integrated now & you can choose the type of player you may want to get matched up too. For example: are you aiming to have fun & kill zombies? That’s is an option or maybe your trying to play through the story & fancy the company. It’s all there as well as the option to not join or allow anyone to play (single player is what I believe they call it).
For fans of the original Dead Rising there is also Nightmare mode that makes the game a lot tougher & only allows you to save in bathrooms. A classic take on the original Dead Rising…
The leap between Dead Rising 2 & 3 is massive & it feels next-generation. It’s not without its faults but offers enough content to leave you satisfied. New players will enjoy what it offers but may be lost amongst the story references while old players will have hoped for more Frank West. I won’t spoil the ending for you suffice to say I do wonder where it goes from here if it does at all.
If you own an Xbox One, this is a game you should own.
Dead Rising 3
The Final Score - 8/10
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