Dead Rising 3, one of the handful of Xbox One exclusive that launched with the console itself last week, seems to be getting a lot of flack from reviewers – who are saying it’s repetitive, mindless and generally pretty average. I’m here to tell you these people are wrong.
If you’ve ever played a Dead Rising game, you’re going to feel right at home here. The equation is simple: take one hero, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, add thousands upon thousands of zombies and some really whacky weapons, and hilarious carnage ensues.
Dead Rising has never set out to be a cerebral thriller, and it certainly doesn’t raise any new or exciting questions about the nature of zombie games. What it does do is promise to give you the most ridiculous sea of zombies to wade through and the most truly ridiculous ways to bring the ruckus.
And they certainly don’t play around getting there.
New face to the series, Nick Ramos is already comfortable into the zombie epidemic when we inhabit this shoes – everything has well and truly gone to hell, and Nick has his mechanic buddies (Nick is mechanic, remember this, it’ll be important shortly) are doing their best to survive, hoping their luck is about to change.
It’s been 10 years since the events of Fortune City that took place in DR1, so the Government is seemingly on top of the zombie issue, having chipped the majority of the population with Zombrex chips, which are supposed to make them immune to the disease.
However, in very traditional Dead Rising fashion, Nick and his gang aren’t quite that lucky, and a severe outbreak has broken out days prior to the start of the game. And thier luck only gets worse, when they get word the Government is intending to nuke their fair city of Los Perdidos to cover up any chance of the disease getting out to the public (or say they claim).
It becomes pretty dang clear early on that there’s some sort of conspiracy afoot, and that our charming protagonist Nick is somehow involved in it, despite spending the first few hours of the game being kind of a bland puppet.
Unlike past Dead Rising games, this outing really fast tracks the player to the ridiculous violence.
The key here is definitely ridiculous carnage, and they pull out all the stops to make that happen. Within moments of the game starting, Nick is wailing on zombies with a plank of wood, a spade, or an axe. But this is about where the sanity stops. As soon as Nick hits the central city, he starts finding blueprints for combo weapons – ultra powerful weapons he makes by fusing two other weapons together (he’s a mechanic, remember).
These weapons range from the devastatingly functional – combine a car battery and a sledgehammer to make an electric hammer like Thor would use – or just plain silly – combine a dragon mask with a picnic umbrella to make a dragon costume you can use to headbutt zombies.
Nick’s mechanical prowess means you can stop and make these weapons whenever you want, which really streamlines one of the great features of the series, giving you access to any weapon you can create on the fly. Furthermore, any weapon you make or find throughout the game immediately gets saved to your weapon lockers, which you can access through any of your safe houses.
That way, if you’ve got a favourite weapon that’s a pain in the ass to make, you can access it that way. Because that’s what makes Dead Rising great – it knows you just want to have fun killing zombies, so it makes it easy and pleasant to do it in the most entertaining way possible. The options for craziness don’t just stop there either – the vast city is home to a range of crazy clothing and aesthetic options. If I want to dress up like a Mexican wrestler and kill zombies with a samurai sword, Dead Rising says ‘Do it, friend’.
Nick’s mad mechanic skills also feed nicely into the vehicle elements of DR3, of which there are many.
Not only does this edition of the series boast by far the biggest catalogue of vehicles in the series, but it also introduces the ability to combine them in much the same way you combine vehicles. Getting from point A to point B in a motorcycle with a steamroller front wheel quickly becomes the only way to get around, and this is just one of the many awesome and hilarious vehicle options DR3 provides.
In terms of plot, DR3 also manages to be a bit more streamlined than it’s predecessors. There’s no central safe zone, so gone are the days when you’d spend most of the game doing escort missions for wandering stranded humans. Now you’ll just encounter them, clear out the zombies around them, and send them on their merry way. Occasionally they’ll ask you to help them collect something they’ve lost or other random tasks, but these are generally more fun than escorting, and often end up a weapon blueprint and a sizeable chunk of XP to upgrade Nick’s skills.
To top it all off, Dead Rising 3 looks incredible. The colour palette is certainly more muted than the Willamette Mall or Fortune City’s many casinos, but it works and shows off the power of the Xbox One well. In the first instance, the sheer number of zombies on screen at any given time is amazing – having taken the masses in Dead Risings 1 and 2 and cranked it up even further.
But Dead Rising 3 has some nice minor graphical tricks too that you might not even notice – I was very impressed with the half reflection I saw of Nick in a house’s front window as I hurried past it, away from the undead horde.
I’ve heard reports of DR3 being buggy and broken, but I can honestly say that I’ve had nothing but a good time with this game. The online co-op mode works perfectly, the gameplay is crazy fun and the plot works just well enough to keep you chugging along. Although it’s no masterpiece, this is arguably the strongest launch title for the Xbox One and definitely one you should pick up if you’re a fan of the series, a fan of zombies, or just a fan of having a good laugh at a giant teddy bear with machine guns.