Dead Rising 3 Review

By Shawn Collier on December 22, 2013

The Dead Rising series has always been about one thing in particular: beating up zombies with whatever wacky item combinations you can find lying around in an attempt to escape the zombies in your way. Dead Rising 3 on the Xbox One follows that tradition faithfully, but how it's implemented this time around causes a few issues and doesn't quite hit the notes that would be expected from such a high profile launch title.

Dead Rising 3 takes place in a pseudo-Los Angeles called Los Perdidos. which the government is set to firebomb in one week after a zombie outbreak occurs. Of course, the main character Nick Ramos wants to escape before this happens, so he hatches a plan with his fellow survivors to mend up an old plane and escape. As you might expect, things aren't that simple as the government isn't as interested in saving people as they let on so you have to work around them while saving people and collecting enough items to help with the escape effort.

The Dead Rising series isn't well known for its narrative, so the story soon takes backseat to the wacky, zany gameplay. The graphics (which we'll detail later) aren't the showstopper here, instead the wow factor is how many zombies are rendered on the screen at any given time. Some of the previous games felt like you were killing the same zombie for the 100th time, whereas in this game they feel varied enough not to notice when they eventually do re-occur.

Probably one of the best features as far as the zombies go is the ways in which you can make them fall apart. Thanks to the varied weapons system which lets you combine items together, you can chop them in half (in either axis direction), blow off their body parts or even cut up chunks of their body individually. That isn't to say things are too easy, as Capcom did balance things out so that you can't go gung-ho against a giant horde of them and expect to make it out without taking some heavy damage. You can manually save now in Dead Rising 3, though, so it's just waiting for the save to reload if you misjudge your abilities instead of re-doing a large portion of the map.

Speaking of the item combinations, it really does a lot to break up the monotony that most games of this genre run into as they break after a short period of use. This forces the player to mix things up. The zanier combinations in the game come through blueprints and these let you build weapons such as a microwave that shoot lasers. You can also combine an electric battery to a Blanka (from Street Fighter) mask to send out electric shockwaves and perhaps the best combination is dubbed the "Freedom Bear". This is a giant stuffed teddy bear which acts as a automatic machine gun turret.

Dead Rising 3 tries to mirror other games like the GTA series with its larger open-world map, but often times you'll run into checkpoints which block off your path until you complete a specific objective in the area per the narrative. It feels like an attempt to hide the fact that the map isn't as large as it seems. This also causes an issue when it's not evident where you need to go and how to get there as the map doesn't really point these things out.

Dead Rising 3 also has AI companions which can join up with you during the game, but often times you're better off either going solo or using the online co-op mode with a friend as the AI will get in your way and just cause frustration. At least they aren't like Dead Rising 2's companions, which turned on you if you accidentally shot them too much, but they could still do with more work.

The graphics are okay, but they feel like a last-gen game in many respects. Dead Rising 3 is stuck in 720p, with occasionally muddled textures outside of the cinematics, and it's disappointing. A post-launch patch did help with most of the glaring slowdown, but there's still some occasional hiccups along the way. Basically it's on-par graphically with the higher-end PS3 and Xbox 360 titles you played earlier this year.

Final Thoughts

Dead Rising 3 is very much one of those titles where you get a lot more out of it if you set the bar lower and expect a game where you can turn off your mind a bit. There's a lot of fun to be had with the weapon combinations and if you can get a friend to join online, it negates the use of AI somewhat. If you can overlook the game's faults, it does have some quality and should serve as a decent time waster.

The trademark weapon combination system is still as zany as ever.
A lot more zombies can be on-screen in this iteration.
Online co-op works pretty well.
Graphics aren't all that impressive.
The map is a bit smaller than it appears.
Still some occasional slowdown post-patch.
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