Dead Rising 3 is an action/survival-horror game for the Xbox One. Capcom Vancouver, formerly Blue Castle Games, developed the title. Microsoft published the game exclusively for its new console. Capcom Vancouver previously developed Dead Rising 2 and its spin-off Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, in addition to The Bigs series of baseball games.
Early footage and trailers for Dead Rising 3 seemed decidedly un-Dead Rising-esque, which was a huge cause for concern. The series seemingly had lost its quirk and humor, opting for a more serious tone. However, when starting up Dead Rising 3, it becomes quickly apparent that the game has lost none of its sensibilities and has only gotten weirder. While both Microsoft and Sony touted impressive launch exclusive titles for their new systems, Dead Rising 3 is easily the best of them all and the most fun to play out of any game for either console launch. Dead Rising 3 fixes many of the issues from its predecessors and provides a delightfully fun experience.
Taking place a decade after the events of Dead Rising 2, a zombie outbreak occurs in Los Perdidos, CA. The world has changed since the last infectious outbreak. People no longer need to be concerned with Zombrex injections; everyone is chipped now, which keeps the infection from affecting them – except for the few who reject the government’s chipping process and instead prefer to live outside of the law securing doses of Zombrex. They prefer the uncertainty of Zombrex to being tracked by the government.
As the infection spreads across Los Perdidos, it left very few survivors. One of the survivors, Nick Ramos, was smart and crafty enough to figure out a way to fight the zombies effectively. Not only can he take out scores of undead, but he has the uncanny ability to mobilize the desperate and scared survivors to find a way out of Los Perdidos. They are under a time clock, though, because the military plans to bomb Los Perdidos to scour the city of infected. As Nick and the survivors plot their way out, he learns more about how deep the creation of the virus goes, the corruption of the military and how depraved people get when society breaks down.
Those worried that the seriousness of Dead Rising 3’s story would affect the game’s goofiness should rest assured that the game is still infinitely silly. Except the silliness of it all is tempered by a story and a protagonist that are compelling in their own ways. By making a semi-serious plot, it allows for the characters around Nick to have some depth. It is easy to care about Annie and Rhonda, the two main women in Nick’s life, because the game does a good job of sketching out their relationships early on and building on them throughout the game. It never feels cheap because Nick grows as a character as the plot progresses.
While generally out of his depth, Nick shows a great humanity when dealing with how messed up the world has gotten as a result of the outbreak. He never forgets it either, so it provides a nice contrast between him and the game’s various psychopaths. It balances out the equation of what great adversity can bring out of people. Even when slicing up the game’s main psychopaths, Nick never takes pleasure in it; for him it is survival. However, survival for Nick never becomes about losing sight of who he is as a person. So he understands what it takes to get by, but not at the cost of his humanity.
While the next-gen sheen has allowed for plenty of improvements to the Dead Rising formula, the gameplay remains largely the same. That is not a bad thing because Dead Rising, as a series, has always had extremely satisfying zombie-killing combat and gameplay. Players still earn experience through PP when killing zombies. As players level up, they can improve various stat branches to improve health, stamina, weapon and car prowess. Performing side missions and killing massive amounts of zombies will help level up Nick quickly. Maxing out a stat branch results in crazy, near godlike powers for that stat.
Weapons still break down, so stocking up on a number of useful weapons until opening up more inventory slots is a must. While the mechanic is annoying, it gives players an extra challenge. Those seeking a challenge are better off starting on Nightmare mode. The time clock returns again, but this time it is not as dire as in past Dead Risings. There is amble time to complete all side missions, main missions and find collectibles. The Psychopath missions remain the best part of the game and Dead Rising 3’s seven optional Psychopath missions are fantastic. Stylized after the Seven Deadly Sins, the Psychopath missions are a must see.
The tweaks the series made in Dead Rising 2 return in the form of weapon combinations. Except in Dead Rising 3, Nick no longer needs to find work benches to create more powerful weapons. Now he can create sweet combo weapons out in the world as long as he has the materials necessary on hand. This makes for a much more satisfying combat experience because players are no longer bound to creating the best weapons in the game at various marked locations. Nothing is more gratifying than running around grabbing a set of boxing globes and a motorcycle engine to create a Dragon Punch on the spot. It is much better than carrying around two not-particularly-useful weapons until you find a workbench.
Dead Rising 3 builds on the combo system by introducing combo vehicles. By moving to a larger sandbox, Nick can ride around the four areas of Los Perdidos in vehicles lying around the city. More than that though, since Nick is a talented mechanic, he can combine vehicles with necessary blueprints. Nick combines vehicles anywhere in the city to create both deadly and insanely stupid vehicles better equipped to get around the city and kill zombies. The combo vehicles coupled with the improved weapon combo system makes Dead Rising 3 an incredibly fun and satisfying experience.
Graphics and Sound
Los Perdidos and its inhabitants, both living and dead, look great. The game has an impressive amount of detail in both setting and character models. What Dead Rising 3 excels in is a wide range of different body types and rendering the various types of people in Los Perdidos in a realistic way. There is a sense of these characters feeling real to life rather than an easy approximation of what a real person looks like or simply an idealized version.
The game shows off how this improved technology can render a wider and more nuanced range of people instead of skinny, muscular and amorphous. Dead Rising 3 handles an impressive number of zombies and items on screen at any given time with very little framerate hiccups. Even when causing mayhem in a dense crowd of zombies, the game keeps up without any significant slowdown. Regardless of the whole resolution debate, Dead Rising 3 is an impressive-looking game. While Dead Rising 3 is light on captivating music, mainly opting for an ominous background score or ambient noise and zombie growls, the voice-acting is excellent. Some of the voice acting in the game adds a shade of pathos and depth to ancillary characters. Andrew Lawrence, a bizarre choice, gives a believable and sympathetic performance as Nick.
Dead Rising 3 is not a perfect game by any means, but as far as launch exclusives go, it is easily the best on either console. It manages not only to be a great launch game, but also a great game in general. Dead Rising 3 shows off the powerful new tech of the Xbox One and manages to provide satisfying gameplay with a solid story and some excellent voice-acting. It is definitely as loony and weird as any Dead Rising game before and, in some ways, maybe more so. If Dead Rising 3 is not the priority when people pick an Xbox One, then it should be.