Capcom’s newest zombie murder romp sadly stumbles more than it should.
Dead Rising has never been renowned for its visuals and really, that’s not even its main call to fame. This is a series that emphasizes on stuffing more zombies on-screen at any given time than most games feature throughout their play-length. That being said, Dead Rising 3 does come with a fixed set of expectations since it’s a next generation launch exclusive, not to mention carried over to the Xbox One because the Xbox 360 couldn’t handle its scope (which is plainly visible in so many of the gameplay elements). That transition allowed Capcom Vancouver to implement a locked 30 frames per second frame rate and 720p resolution while tripling the total zombie count. Or does it?
"Dead Rising 3 has got to be the most crowded open world game we’ve ever seen in terms of enemy character models."
Well, actually it does. In terms of the number of zombies, that is. The developer wanted to make sure each and every zombie in this game is unique, and there are virtual swathes of them wherever you look. It’s not impossible to have hundreds of zombies after you, whether on foot or in a vehicle.
This style of mob massacre necessitates the use of vehicles and there’s nothing seeing zombies roll off your hood or get caught in the spikes of a forklift, still writhing as they attempt to eat you. We’ll go out on a limb and say that Dead Rising 3 has got to be the most crowded open world game we’ve ever seen in terms of enemy character models that you can interact with in real-time.
Draw distance is fairly good, especially in vehicles where you see nary a sign of pop-up or volumetric fog to mask asset loading. Even environmental interactivity is good, as you can go inside just about any building, wreck any sign, pick up any object and just have a rollicking good time trying to come up with combinations for weapons.
"Character models aside from the zombies are fairly straight-forward. They’re nothing memorable, but at least they’re decently animated and rendered."
Even if Los Perdidos isn’t necessarily memorable in its design, the apocalyptic aesthetic which sees several arrow signs, road blocks, wrecked vehicles and abandoned buildings looks spot on. We especially love seeing the seamless transitions in effect, in which you can leave a building and head outside or traverse from one area to another without seeing a single loading screen.
Residual flames from explosions dissipate quickly and other particle effects are fairly ho-hum. We dug the explosions though, especially the screen-encompassing white out that comes from detonating large explosives or launching an air-strike. Character models aside from the zombies are fairly straight-forward. They’re nothing memorable, but at least they’re decently animated and rendered. Along with no two zombies looking alike, you have different enemy types such as the typical exploding zombies and even a few former police officers wielding firearms.
You’ll only really notice their blandness in character cut-scenes where, despite the so-called grittiness of the game, they’re hamming it up in dialogues. Facial animations are pretty bare and really hurt the immersion. On the other hand, it reminds you that you’re playing a video game and not meant to take things too seriously. This will come to personal preference, really.
"Jaggies are fully pronounced here and will dog you every step of the way."
Regardless of how you choose to roll – on foot or in a souped up sports car – Dead Rising 3’s visuals have some serious problems. That 720p resolution doesn’t benefit from subpixel morphological anti-aliasing like Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome, which helped smooth over jagged edges and allowed for crowds of dudes on screen at once in real-time.
Jaggies are fully pronounced here and will dog you every step of the way, from the environmental objects to the zombies themselves. Granted, there are many more enemies and environmental objects here than in Ryse, but the latter was a case of Crytek creating work-arounds to deliver an excellent visual experience despite limitations. What could be Capcom Vancouver’s excuse?
None of this would be such a big deal if Capcom Vancouver had stuck to its original promise with the frame rate. You could write a whole other feature on Dead Rising 3’s frame rate. Billed as being locked at 30 frames per second, this is far from the case as the action can easily dip as low as 15 frames per second. You’ll notice stutters when traveling and encountering mounds of zombies, but it’s a smooth fall and rise that never goes beyond a few frames.
"Some key sequences however – such as an explosion or the odd finishing move – cause the frame rate to sharply drop. You’ll notice it as a slight pause before the action resumes."
Some key sequences however – such as an explosion or the odd finishing move – cause the frame rate to sharply drop. You’ll notice it as a slight pause before the action resumes. We thankfully didn’t encounter this when fighting off zombies normally but it’s a damn shame to see it crop up all the same.
Visually, there isn’t much more one can say about Dead Rising 3. The frame rate issues could possibly be corrected with a patch and despite complaints about the draw distance being a little shabby when traveling in fast vehicles, you’ll only notice it if you’re looking out for it. The interactivity with your environment and destruction is top-notch, with a real tangible connection to the grimy, bombed out city that Los Perdidos has become.
In terms of functionality though, it’s just sad that for a game that had a locked 30 FPS frame rate earmarked from the beginning suffers from such issues at launch itself. We’ll reserve judgment on the gameplay, which could no doubt appeal to its targeted audience of zombie killers, but this is far from the Xbox One launch showcase title that Microsoft intends it to be.