Back in 2006, Capcom revealed a zombie-filled horror game called Dead Rising for a still-young Xbox 360. A massive, action-packed sandbox game which featured a shopping mall full of huge hordes of zombies, a sense of humor, and the ability to use virtually everything around you as a weapon against them? For me, it immediately turned the Xbox 360 into a must-own console. I mean, it was a freaking virtual Dawn of The Dead! Who wouldn’t be tempted by this sort of slaughter-filled sweetness? And while the end result definitely wasn’t perfect, it was still an absolute blast that I had no regrets over purchasing.
Fast forward seven years to today……
One sequel, a few spin-offs, and the general ascension of the Dead Rising franchise into one the most memorable new video game series of the past generation, and now here we are at Dead Rising 3. Launching exclusively for the Xbox 360’s successor, the Xbox One, no less. Alas, the initial reaction this time hasn’t been of the same excitement. The game’s launch was plagued by accusations that the series had now strayed from its more comical roots, and being an Xbox One exclusive made it a target during these 2013 next-gen console/PC wars. So are the adventures of Nick Ramos’ escape from Los Perdidos truly a botched set of tales, or is it a story for the ages indeed?…Well, let’s face it, the title here kind of tells you what direction this is going to lean to, but let’s find out!
And as a bonus, we’re actually excited to try out a new feature with this list/review thanks to the Xbox One: Homebrewed gameplay videos with commentary! Yes, now you can actually watch us play and talk about the games we’re reviewing! And I can’t want for you all to no doubt deliver complaints on my potential Pewdiepie levels of annoyance and how I probably stink at making videos, so let’s get right to it! Yay!
The Great Bits
6. A Hearty Supply Of Lovely Weapons
A mainstay of the Dead Rising series has been the ability to use virtually anything you find as a weapon, regardless of practicality. Pistols, knives, power tools, cleaning supplies, stuffed animals…you name it. And Dead Rising 2 upped the ante with the introduction of combo weapons, giving us the gleeful joys of massacring zombies with the likes of Paddlesaws and Knife Gloves. Well, there was seemingly no way that Dead Rising 3 could top a level of insanity that huge…so instead they just simply gave us more weapons for you to go to town on zombies with! Yay! So now you get a whopping 101 combo and super combo weapons to work with in addition to the usual motley assortment of damage-dealing goodies. So what shall it be? Talking robot axe? Electric sledgehammer? Knife-wielding, life-size jack-in-the-box? Boxing gloves coated with rubber duckies? Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.
Just find the blueprints needed, get the ingredients, combine them when needed (no need for a workbench this time around), and proceed to end the relationship between a zombie’s head and his torso. You even get weapons lockers in the game’s various safe houses that store your insane arsenal for later. It’s a wide variety of weapons that are powerful, creative, and most importantly, fun to wield, so go nuts out there, ladies and gentlemen.
5. The Need for Speed
The first Dead Rising game had vehicles, yes, but they were just sort of…there. Okay, they helped you get the legendary Zombie Genocider achievement much easier, but they just didn’t seem all that practical in an game that largely took place in one enclosed location. The second game tried to mix things up by adding combo bikes, but there were only five of them, you could only craft them in one area and again, the usefulness of such transportation felt a tad limited. But with Dead Rising 3’s larger, more open area comes the need for practical ways of getting around even more implements of destruction to annihilate giant hordes of zombies with.
And why not add in even more, even zanier combo vehicles as well? Because why let a zombie apocalypse get in the way of your dreams of joyriding in a forklift with a fireworks cannon attached to it, or a steamroller motorcycle with a flamethrower welded onto it? That’s a lousy reason to avoid living a dream. And trust me, ramming over a dozen or so zombies and crushing them into a gooey paste while heading off to your latest mission feels like a damn good dream indeed (the occasional roadblock, not so much. But I guess wishing for clean streets in a zombie apocalypse is too much too ask for).
4. Improved Survivor AI
I know that pointing out the progression of improvements throughout the Dead Rising games is probably already starting to feel annoying, but considering that the piss-poor AI of your fellow survivors is what sadly turned some people off of the first game, it’s probably important to bring this up. Mind you, after having to escort countless survivors with the IQ and survival instincts of a damp sponge all the way back to your safe house, Dead Rising 2’s innovation of having survivors who were at least smart enough to avoid the countless zombies in their path felt like a breath of fresh air. So for the third round, not only do you get random survivors who just simply safely head off on their own once you save them from a zombie horde, you also get a choice amount of survivors with distinct personalities who join you as well. And not only are they actually capable of handling themselves when surrounded by legions of the undead, but you can actually give them the command to hang back this time around, then walk away, and they just head back to the safe house on their own!
So yes, escort missions have finally truly stopped being a pain! Hell, you can even head to a bulletin board & get rescued survivors to fight alongside you, as proof of their confidence! Granted, you still have to perform some ludicrous errands before they actually join you (dude, is finding your tarot card really that important now?), but finally having allies who don’t get distracted by that shiny penny in the middle of a conga line of flesh-eaters still more than makes up for it.
3. Bigger World, Bigger Hordes
So in case you haven’t figured it out by now, Dead Rising 3 tends to up the ante quite a bit when it comes to sequels. And lo and behold, said upped ante extends to the game’s world as well. Los Perdidos is at least double the size of Fortune City, and has been divided into four different districts, each with their own unique identity (suburbs, industrial, upscale estates, business district). Of course, this wouldn’t mean much if these areas weren’t populated with hordes of brain-munching walkers, and indeed, DR3 delivers the zombies in spades.
Not only are the hordes even bigger and a sight to behold, but they added newer, tougher types of zombies as well that pop up in their own districts. In one area you might be fending off numerous gun-toting zombie soldiers, another avoiding the tackles of zombie football players. Okay, now that I’ve written it down, yes, it sounds quite goofy. But in the end, it all adds to the flavor of the grandiose city that is Los Perdidos, and the sweet dose of variety that comes with it. Speaking of which, let’s move on to one of the advantages that comes with a grandiose city…
2. An Emphasis On Exploration And Collectibles
You know, that wide variety of domiciles and shops isn’t going to check itself out. And likewise, that talking axe isn’t going to craft itself; you’re gonna need blueprints, you know. So like peanut butter and chocolate, our huge L.A. expy comes complete with a wide variety of collectibles for you to hunt for. Weapons and vehicle blueprints, commemorative Frank West statues, propaganda-spouting Zombie Defense Control speakers, tragic deaths (more on that in a moment), and even app upgrades for those willing to play this game with an additional tablet via SmartGlass are all out there just waiting for you to stumble across them.
Whether you need more methods of spreading undead entrails all over the place or just more Prestige Points to help you level up and gain more skills, Los Perdidos is willing to serve you. So get on out there, explore that beast, and enjoy a little touch of replayability as well (especially if you’re an obsessive 100% completionist, which I admit to falling into at times…).
1. Still Full of Black Humor
So amongst the first things that many gamers – myself included – said when Dead Rising 3 was revealed was “GAAAAAAH WHY IS SO DAMN BROWN GAAAAAAH WHERE’S ALL THE HUMOR DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT EFFIN’ CALL OF DUTY YOU HAVE RUINED DEAD RISING FOREVER FUCK YOU CAPCOOOOOOOOM” Or, you know, something to that effect. And I’m assuming that Steve From Marketing has been brutally flogged since then as punishment for making such a mistake during the E3 presentation, because Capcom has been trying their hardest since then to assure us that yes, the wackiness is still present. And thankfully, it is!
Well, the setting has indeed changed…mind you, there was no way of topping the neon-soaked playground that was Fortune City (and the Off the Record re-release only made DR2 even more zany), but the visuals now seem to suggest something more along the the lines of a Left 4 Dead-style black humor vibe, with lived-in areas and graffiti abound amidst a slightly darker atmosphere. And then you enter a porno shop dressed as a luchador, wielding a bomb made out of an afro, where you then descend into an S&M dungeon to fight a personified sin that wields a flamethrowing penis gun, and that is a moment where you gleefully realize “Yep, this is still a Dead Rising game!” Good ol’ twisted zaniness!
The Not-So-Great Bits
2. It Definitely Still has Some Tonal Issues
…That being said about the game retaining its humor, though, you can’t avoid the fact that yeah, the general tone is still a little darker in this installment, which leads to some awkward clashes. And no example of this is probably better than the game’s “Tragic Ending” collectibles, which chronicle the fates of the Los Perdidos citizens who weren’t lucky enough to be wielding sledgehammers with cement saws attached to them when the zombies struck. So imagine this: You stumble across a dead woman in a bathtub with a…”massager” beside her. You investigate the body, sad piano music plays, then a caption appears saying “Sometimes it’s better not to ask!” So…wait, am I supposed to find that funny, or not? Is “tragic” a bit of sarcasm here? I’m confused.
Even the zombie hordes fall victim to this trope sometimes. When you encounter a particularly large one, the thumpa-thumpa synth kicks in and Nick begins cursing in fear. Good for setting the stage early on…not so much when it still kicks in during your 86th horde, where again, you’re dressed up as a luchador wielding a puke gun this round, and have advanced twenty or so levels to boot.
And let’s not not get started on some of the game’s story aspects. Like previous games, the story is still giddily played straight in contrast to the world around it, but now awkward commentaries on the government’s invasion of privacy, Sarah Palin, and the treatment of immigrants (there’s a resistance group hunted by the government simply called “The Illegals”, fer crissakes) seem to have been awkwardly squeezed in. I’d make a joke about how this is beyond ham-fisted…except actually strapping a ham to dinner cart to create a ramming device is how you make one of the game’s Combo Weapons. Go figure.
1. A Decrease In Difficulty
Okay, so there’s no denying that the ability to craft weapons wherever and whenever you want in Dead Rising 3 is insanely useful, as is the ability to summon vehicles at will and survivors to fight by your side. Not to mention there’s no denying that survivors being able to head back to safe houses on their own is an asset as well. But similarly and sadly, there’s also no denying that these assets tend to lessen the challenge at times. All the larger zombie hordes and different types of undead this time around can’t cover up the fact that things are slightly easier.
Not to mention the fact that the time-based missions and ability to save only in certain areas (said areas being crappers) have also been banished as well after numerous gamers complained about them being an annoyance, now existing only in the game’s “Nightmare Mode”, which also includes tougher zombies and psychopaths. And I consider it a sad commentary on how much “casual” gaming’s tentacles (or what an executive would consider to be “casual” gaming, mind you) have dug their way into the industry when what was once considered the norm for difficulty in these games just three years ago now has to take a backseat and be re-labelled as “Nightmare Mode.”
And don’t blame Capcom for this one, folks. You all whined about the time-based missions, the save points, and the escorts, so you only have yourselves to blame when Capcom actually grants your wishes. Monkey’s paw here, dammit.
(And yeah, sorry again that the video doesn’t have much to do with the game’s difficulty, but capturing an example of it all in five minutes or less is a tad tricky.)
So in the end, is Dead Rising 3 worth getting an Xbox One for?…Well, in the end I’d have to say that on its own, no, it probably isn’t. What it is, though, is just an incredibly damn fun and enjoyable game definitely worth playing. So if you do get an Xbox One, this should instantly be one of the first games (if not the first) you get for it. Even with the occasional issues concerning tone and challenge, it’s a true blast that is indeed worthy of the Dead Rising name, so I heartily recommend checking it out when you can.
And of course, I hope you enjoyed our little video experiment as well; it was definitely fun to try out. If you have any suggestions concerning it or would like to see more in future lists/reviews, just let us know in the comments. And so I eagerly await your snark about it all…
Previously by Kyle LeClair: