By Steve Wright
Dead Rising was a launch game for the Xbox 360, and thanks to Capcom Vancouver, Dead Rising 3 is similarly available at the time of the Xbox One. It’s ironic that both games are so enjoyable, yet illustrate how much developers have to learn about the launch consoles they've been designed for.
If you’ve played either of the Dead Rising games before it, you know what to expect from Dead Rising 3. Whilst the original Dead Rising was a trailblazer, it was decidedly Japanese: kooky and full of weird game mechanics and restraints. Want to save your game? Head to a bathroom. Your main character? Well, he’s a photographer who’s covered wars (you know). You get the idea.
Dead Rising 2 went to Blue Castle Games – now Capcom Vancouver – for some Western influence, and they didn’t disappoint. While keeping the game’s obscure timing mechanic – where anything and everything seemed to put you under the pump – they really focused on crafting; combo weapons were plentiful, super-damage dealing and very, very cool.
Dead Rising 3 takes even more Western influences and sticks them into the game. If the timers on missions and survivor rescues weren’t your thing, they’re gone… providing you don’t choose to play in “Nightmare” mode. Crafting is even easier this time around; as main character Nick is a mechanic, he’s somehow able to combine tools – and vehicles – to create damage-dealing weapons and super-transport. Sure, it’s completely unrealistic, but it’s so fun, you’re willing to turn a blind eye.
The story is much the same as in past games: you’re stuck in a zombie-infested city, under threat by weapons of mass destruction that will hit in a set number of days (though, that’s really handled by chapter progression now and not an actual countdown). Your main goal is to escape. Simple enough, eh?
Survivors are handled differently this time around; those with proper side-quests are saveable and can join your party as you progress through the world. That type of NPC will join you whenever called from a safehouse, be it up against the normal, fodder-like zombie horde or the crazy, crazy psychos littering Los Perditos. Other survivors might just open up a ‘clear the area so they can escape and never been seen again’-type quest. As always, completing quests give you XP, and that XP is used to upskill Nick with combo creation and more. Crafting relies upon blueprints scattered throughout Los Perditos. Really, it’s all standard Dead Rising stuff.
Whilst most of the changes to this game are positive, psychos really suffer this time around. Most are taken care of through guns and guns alone – even when you’re encouraged otherwise -- and that’s a real shame considering my loadout in Dead Rising 2 was one katana blade and three food items for healing. With many psychos, you’ll find that a ton of guns and health are just lying around, ripe for the taking, meaning preparation is a thing of the past. Easier psychos plus much easier crafting really means that Dead Rising 3 is just a little too easy most of the time.
Back to my original point. There was nothing wrong with Dead Rising on the 360, but if you play it now, you'd be able to realise (and quickly) that it wasn't really harnessing the power of the console. I believe that same will be said of Dead Rising 3 in a year's time.
Graphically, Dead Rising 3 is quite pretty, yet not eye-catchingly so. Most of the Xbox One's power has been used to generate zombies on-screen. Apart from that, the game is decidedly the one out of Microsoft's Xbox One's triple-A launch lineup – Ryse and Forza also in that group -- that seems most like an Xbox 360 game. That said, it's no slouch, and those worried about framerate issues needn't concern themselves.
Dead Rising 3 is a bit niche, but it does niche well. Like most of the Xbox One launch lineup, no one game is ridiculously stellar, but each and every game (well, apart from LocoCycle) is at the very least polished and competent. Best yet, each offers a very different experience than the next. If you’re looking for an open world, zombie-filled game where you're unleashed to wreak havoc, then this game is for you. In a weird launch period where open-world games are mostly titles shared across both the PS4 and the Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 is a unique experience on Microsoft's next-gen platform that’s well worth the purchase.