It may not look like a next gen title but there is a ton of fun on offer here.
I’m not sure whether it was after I’d crafted my first Fire Reaper (a combination of scythe, katana and gasoline canister) or the BlamBow (a crossbow/Roman Candle hydbrid) that I truly started to fall in love with Dead Rising 3. As the kill counter climbed, so did my enthusiasm for this epic zombie-slaying adventure.
Inevitably, the first hour of my playthrough was spent simply exploring the city of Los Perdidos, gawping at the thousands of undead filling each and every street. I’d soon found an abandoned muscle car to plough into the sea of unsuspecting souls, made myself look a little cooler by dressing up in a suit of armour and picked up a massive broadsword to fight my way towards some stranded survivors in the distance.
"What’s more, you can play solo or you can bring someone else along for the ride via online co-op. You can invite a friend or dive into the options menu and choose from various play styles to best match you with a stranger."
I quickly became accustomed to the controls and gameplay mechanics, and soon had the first couple of missions under my belt, defeating several psychopath bosses in the process. But it wasn’t until I’d found my first weapon blueprint and thrown together some truly devastating slicing and dicing moves that I became truly hooked.
Dead Rising was the very reason I bought an Xbox 360 all those years ago, lured by the promise of its slapstick humour, loads of zombies being onscreen at once and the fact that any object littering the massive open world could be used to beat them into submission. Dead Rising 3, an exclusive launch title for the Xbox One, repeats and improves upon each and every one of those elements.
What’s more, you can play solo or you can bring someone else along for the ride via online co-op. You can invite a friend or dive into the options menu and choose from various play styles to best match you with a stranger.
"The regular campaign mode and the removal of time constraints may irk diehard fans of the series as will the option to save anywhere – but for the majority of players, these tweaks are most welcome."
The action takes place a decade after the events of Dead Rising 2, with protagonist Nick Ramos trying his level best to negotiate his way through a city full of the infected and escape before an imminent military strike. Spanning six days and seven chapters, this game is vast – the map bigger than the first two titles combined.
A mechanic by trade, Nick’s certainly a useful kind of guy to have around and unlike his predecessors, Frank West and Chuck Greene, he can conjure up all kinds of deadly weapons while on the move.
The regular campaign mode and the removal of time constraints may irk diehard fans of the series as will the option to save anywhere – but for the majority of players, these tweaks are most welcome. This time round you can explore at a reasonably leisurely pace and don’t have to keep bolting into a restroom to save your progress. If you do fancy playing like the good ‘ol days, then the more hardcore can go for the Nightmare mode and reinstate the countdown clock.
"And let’s not forget Kinect. If you’re grabbed and about to be bitten by a zombie, simply shake the controller and the motion control helps you evade their clutches."
As day turns to night, zombies get tougher and more aggressive. All too often you’re running low on food and the collection of weapons in your inventory (called up via RB) are all perilously close to being unusable – flashing red to show they’re about to break. Add the fact that it’s sometimes hard to see what’s lurking in those dark corners and the slightest sound will alert the horde and the tension really ramps up a notch.
Dead Rising 3 arguably makes better use of the Xbox One’s SmartGlass technology than the other launch titles, incorporating it into the game nicely. SmartGlass provides a dual-screen experience, your tablet or phone providing access to mission list and map in real time. It’s incredibly handy being able to access objectives and a live news feed without having to pause the game all the time. It’s also incredibly clever that you’ll receive in game calls and text messages to your device too. And then there’s the fact you can call for backup from fellow survivors and call in airstrikes if you fancy.
And let’s not forget Kinect. If you’re grabbed and about to be bitten by a zombie, simply shake the controller and the motion control helps you evade their clutches. Not only that but you can attract the attention of the bloodthirsty horde just by calling out; Kinect’s microphone will pick you up, luring the zombies in your direction. You can even rile enemies by heckling them too, putting them off their stride during a confrontation. How’s that for cool?
"Earn enough and you’ll rank up, and be given Attribute Points to spend on a skills tree. From here it’s completely up to you whether you bless Nick with a bigger health bar or larger inventory, some handy new weapon-making skills or improved agility."
The all-important XP – or Prestige Points – from previous games make a return and are earned with kills, the most elaborate and spectacular earning even higher scores. And there are plenty of opportunities to ramp up the PP thanks to the thousands of zombies onscreen at any one time. Additional PP is earned by finding collectibles dotted around the city, rescuing survivors or progressing the story missions. Earn enough and you’ll rank up, and be given Attribute Points to spend on a skills tree. From here it’s completely up to you whether you bless Nick with a bigger health bar or larger inventory, some handy new weapon-making skills or improved agility.
In addition to the main story missions, there are countless other tasks to keep you busy, from saving survivors to collecting items. The handy in-game map shows the location of all these goodies, which award huge PP bonuses if you take the time to track them down.
Besides the so-called Tragic Ending corpses which are hidden around the city, there are 70 shiny gold Frank West Statues to track down too. Then there are loudspeakers bellowing out noise that need to be destroyed and ZDC App updates that make use of the clever SmartGlass feature. As in the previous games, you may even be lucky enough to stray across a few rare books that can enhance Nick’s abilities.
"Despite this being a next gen game the graphics are a little disappointing – especially when compared with Forza or Ryse. It still looks great but the visuals lack the detail and definition offered by other titles and compromises have clearly been made to ensure that it’s possible to cram as many AI characters onscreen as possible."
Without doubt, however, it’s the aforementioned weapon blueprints that steal the show. There are about 100 of these hidden that allow Nick to create combo weapons and special super-powered vehicles, which make massacring zombies so much more entertaining. Just like before though, both weapons and vehicles take a battering and degrade over time. No matter how substantial your vehicle, driving through a herd slows you to a snail’s pace and will quickly leave the car on the brink of destruction. Zombies clinging to your roof really affect the handling and slow you down… and believe me, there’s nowhere you want to be less than in the midst of a sea of the undead when your car explodes!
Safe houses can offer a brief respite from the mayhem, as well as a much-needed stash of food and munitions. From here you can also access you costume locker, where a wardrobe of Narnia-esque proportions houses everything you’ve collected from horse’s heads and hazmat suits to designer shades and luchador outfits. There are also bulletin boards on hand to call on help from the survivors you’ve saved.
Despite this being a next gen game the graphics are a little disappointing – especially when compared with Forza or Ryse. It still looks great but the visuals lack the detail and definition offered by other titles and compromises have clearly been made to ensure that it’s possible to cram as many AI characters onscreen as possible. You’ll really not care too much tough; there’s no slowdown despite the volume of bodies on display and no two zombies are reportedly alike either.
Whether you have a penchant for running round in women’s clothing and using a giant teddy bear to fend off the undead, or fancy going all “A-Team” and crafting a sedan-steam roller combo to turn the ravenous hordes into mulch, this is a game that will leave a smile on your face. Dead Rising 3 is an exceptional game. It’s exceptionally daft, exceptionally gruesome and, importantly, it’s exceptionally fun. It may not look like a next gen title but there’s no doubt that it is a must have purchase for your new console.
This game reviewed on the Xbox One
Literally thousands of zombies onscreen at once. Map is huge. Combo weapons are inventive and suitably destructive. Kinect and SmartGlass are well employed.
Disappointing visuals, which lack the next gen sheen. Psychopath battles are a little jarring and plot is nothing new.
The open world zombie massacring simulator returns – and it’s bigger and better than ever.