Capcom doesn’t mess around when it comes to its bread and butter genre: survival horror. The venerable Japanese developer may have cut its teeth on fighters and arcade classics, but zombie games like Resident Evil and Dead Rising have been its money makers for over a decade and, with Capcom’s current financial trouble, they’re doing their best to knock this one out of the park.
The game starts 72 hours after the latest zombie outbreak, in the city of Los Perdidos, California. Nick Ramos, former auto mechanic and current zombie survivor, was tasked by a group of folks holed up in a diner to see if there’s a way out of town. The military collapses the bridges and tunnels out of town, as it turns out, effectively sequestering Los Perdidos from the rest of California. Panic ensues and a couple of the diner folks decide to feed themselves to the zombie horde. Meanwhile Nick, his boss Rhonda, and a trucker named Dick haul ass farther into town to Rhonda’s auto shop. Once Rhonda gets her piece of shit flatscreen working we find out that not only is Los Perdidos cut off from the rest of the world, but the military is going to drop a shit ton of incendiary ordnance on the city...just to be sure. Now the three amigos absolutely must get out of town before the barbeque starts, and the clock is ticking.
Two’s Company, Three Million’s a Crowd
Despite instituting a law requiring every citizen to be fitted with a Zombrex-dispensing GPS microchip, the entire city is now overrun with literally millions of undead. The storyline is a bit obfuscated, and it only gets muddier as the game progresses. Fortunately, Dead Rising has never been about top-notch storytelling, so I have no intention of docking Capcom Vancouver for their ridiculous story. We don’t play Dead Rising for a story, we play it to kill a bunch of zombies. On that, Dead Rising 3 delivers.
The streets of Los Perdidos are filled to capacity with the walking dead. Although Nick is certainly no soldier boy, his mechanic skills are put to good use crafting weapons out of ordinary stuff. Nick’s skills are so superior to his predecessors that he doesn’t even need a workbench to craft his death-dealing toys: Nick can do it on the fly. DR3 also allows Nick to use his skills to modify vehicles into something that would make Grampa Munster proud. My favorite was the Rollerhawg: part chopper, part steamroller and 100% zombie flattening and burning death machine! Vehicle modification types number in the dozens, with weapon types numbering in the hundreds.
Despite the frantic ticking clock and always overwhelming hordes of undead, there are quite a few side missions at your fingertips. These missions vary from saving lone survivors, who may or may not join you, finding “tragic endings,” obtaining supplies, and securing safe rooms. Nick gains experience for rescuing folks, making stuff, killing walkers, and side mission stuff. This XP can be used to upgrade Nick’s skills and abilities.
Dead Rising For The Next Generation
What impressed me most about Dead Rising 3 is the fact that the game seems finished at launch, unlike many of its fellow launch titles. The zombies are numerous, but it rarely seems to affect the framerate. The fact that the zombies are wildly varied is another feather in DR3’s cap: you’re not fighting the same 5-10 zombies all of the time. Did you hear that, Ryse? DR3 has more than six enemy types! Jealous?
Microsoft Studios plays publisher for Dead Rising 3, so expect it to remain an Xbox One exclusive. The pure power of the XB1 is on full display as the game retains smooth action and impressive detail even with hundreds of zombies on screen. The initial loading screens are lengthy, but once the game is on deck there is no pausing to load. You can play a very long time without seeing a loading screen and loads generally indicate chapter progression...or death.
Co-op is smoothly integrated and really improves Nick’s chances at surviving and completing missions. Of course this depends on your co-op partner. At one point I had some random guy join me; he flatly ignored my request for help with dispatching the lunatic in the Zen Garden which ultimately proved impossible as a solo endeavor. Another battle, later down the road with a biker gang, proved to be too difficult without help. The boss battles are interesting and the difficulty is definitely ramped up for a two-player assault.
Kinect commands work surprisingly well in this game. Players can attract a group of zombies by simply yelling “over here.” I kind of skimmed the Kinect tutorial, but apparently it is deeply integrated into the game. I was anxious to start killing shit so I ignored much of the Kinect stuff, but what I used worked very well. It’s extra peripheral functionality for players looking to get some use out of their Kinect.
The game is good, but it’s not perfect. I don’t really like being forced to rely on some random dipshit to complete a boss battle. Not only did the dude ignore me when I tried to take on the Zen Master, but the guy fell asleep or something and died only to respawn while I was taking the Rollerhawg out for a spin. Firearms are fairly forgiving, the melee weapons miss a lot, and the head stomp maneuver only works about 30% of the time. I had a nice run on one part with a katana sword, but found myself unable to head stomp the 10 or so zombie torsos that still clawed their way after me. The combat controls are pretty simple: X to attack and Y for a heavy attack. The other stuff, such as inventory management, was a bit counterintuitive and players may need a period of reacclimation before they get back in the swing of things if they take a break to play something else. I could only play for two hours or so before I had to break off and change games. The game is best enjoyed in short sessions, preferably with a reliable co-op partner...unlike the guy I played with. I call him Sleepy the Sandwich.
The Final Verdict
Although I personally think that the market is oversaturated with zombie games, Dead Rising 3 does exactly what a genre game should do: allow the player to kill a shitload of zombies while being assaulted by and immersed in a George Romero nightmare. Many zombie games cut corners and retread games. Dead Rising 3 progresses what a survival horror game should be, cuts out what doesn’t work, and makes the good stuff better. I’m not particularly a fan of the genre but I must give Dead Rising 3 its props: it is very good at what it does and worth every penny of your sixty dollars.