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Dead Rising 3 Review

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The third outing of Capcom's other, more ridiculous zombie franchise ably walks the line between approachability and the series' trademark off-the-wall quirk.

Yeah, it's still Dead Rising.

Dead Rising 3 walks a fine line between thoughtfully streamlining the flow of its predecessors' weird mission structure, and stripping out too much of the quirkiness that has defined Capcom's other zombie-slashing franchise since the early days of the Xbox 360. Luckily, the game gets close to finding a happy medium between Dead Rising's signature weirdness and a slightly more traditional open-world format that makes this by far the most approachable game yet in the series.

The first two games confined you and your zombie outbreak to a shopping mall and a casino complex, respectively, while Dead Rising 3 moves the action within the entirety of the fictional city of Los Perdidos. You still get access to the retail mayhem of the previous games via the many toy shops, gun stores, restaurants, clothing outlets, and other shopping spots scattered around town--meaning there are still hundreds of everyday objects available for use as weapons--but the new game does away with the pervasive loading screens of the old ones, allowing you to move around the entire city and a surprising number of building interiors freely as you complete missions, combine weird weapons into weirder weapons, and look for the scads of collectible weapon blueprints and other trinkets that have been added here.

At the same time, Dead Rising 3 softens the overriding time pressure of the previous games to the point that you hardly have to worry about the fact that there's even a timer in the first place. In the past, it was nigh-impossible to do all of the side missions your first time through the game, and each step of the storyline had its own short timer that demanded you get on with the plot sooner than later, or else risk having to start the entire game over. Starting and restarting over and over to build up your character level and streamline your path through the various missions became a hallmark of Dead Rising.

Nick and Dick: co-op buddies with an axe to grind.

By contrast, you could go through Dead Rising 3 and easily complete every side quest (which have very generous timers) and story mission (which have no timers at all) on your first try. Rather than putting a ticking clock on each individual plot point, you now begin the game under the threat of an air strike to occur six days hence, and then go about your business at your own pace. And even if you somehow don't make it to the end of the story in the ample time provided, you can restart at the beginning of any chapter right up to the final one, meaning you don't have to replay the entire game like you did in the past if you've squandered too much of your time.

The decreased time pressure and seeming tweaks to your health and enemy damage make Dead Rising 3 feel like an easier game than its predecessors--though thankfully the Nightmare mode that's unlocked from the beginning increases the restrictions on saving, health, and time limits more in line with the older games, if you're looking for that classic challenge. I originally worried the less demanding normal mode would make Dead Rising 3 feel less like Dead Rising. But ultimately the fact that side missions can still expire while you're screwing around--along with the big red warning that shows up every 12 or so in-game hours to go "HEY HERE'S HOW MUCH TIME YOU HAVE LEFT REMEMBER THERE'S A BOMB COMING?"--kept just enough of that sense of urgency in place for my taste, while allowing me to get into more of the other ridiculous aspects of a Dead Rising game without quite so much restriction.

Combo vehicles are one of the best new things in this sequel.

Dead Rising 3 is still deeply stupid. That's primarily because of the combo weapons that return from 2, the absurdity of which has been amplified to the Nth degree. You're still jamming things like a motorcycle engine and a microwave together to produce nonsense like a nuclear death ray, and now you can combo already combined weapons with further add-ons to create even dumber superweapons. As Los Perdidos is a true open world, there are cars you can drive around, and you can combine several of these to create total nonsense vehicles that let you suck up zombies and spit them out wadded up into zombie balls, or place a steamroller on the front of a motorcycle to let you run down hundreds of zombies at a time. And I do mean hundreds; Dead Rising 3 crams more enemies into one frame than maybe any game I can remember, and maintains a (mostly) stable frame rate doing it. Mowing down those hundreds of monsters at once is the purest joy the game offers, and putting all those ridiculous destructive implements together has gotten even friendlier now that you can do it anywhere, rather than having to find a workbench just to build your weapons.

There have been even more enhancements to the way Dead Rising works, in the form of a variable skill tree that lets you customize your play style as you go. In contrast to the previous games, where specific upgrades to health and character speed and so on were tied to each level, you simply earn skill points when you level up that you can drop into any number of categories to make your weapons more durable, give you more health, make your followers heartier, and so on. This is a great way to make the game feel looser and more tailored to the way you want to play it, while keeping the constant feeling of character progression in place.

Again, though, the game is much easier than in the past; even the psychopaths that serve as the game bosses do less damage and die faster than their counterparts in the previous games, and the way you can build your skill tree and amass combo weapons (which you can simply spawn in droves from a safe house once you've built them once) will let you cut through hordes and hordes of zombies without much trouble. It's an easier game than the previous Dead Risings, but it's also a more gleefully entertaining one. If you relished the way those old games were built, you should play on Nightmare immediately. For everyone else, the regular mode will simply be a much better time.

Some of the scenarios certainly still feel like delightful nonsense.

Dead Rising 3 is a little less silly than its predecessors, but only a little. The story plays it just a bit straighter this time around, with a government conspiracy weaving in and out of this latest zombie outbreak, but the events of this sequel also follow directly from what happened in the last two games. So expect plenty of references to Frank West, Zombrex, Phenotrans, and so on, as well as some pretty absurd character encounters, scenarios, and boss fights. A couple of the psychos fall into slightly questionable stereotypical territory, but most of what's going on here is dumb and random in the amusing way that Dead Rising has always had about it. It feels more like a proper entry in this series than the flat, humorless image the early marketing for the game created earlier this year.

As a launch game, Dead Rising 3 has a lot to offer. You could easily spend a couple dozen hours maxing out your character level, doing every side mission, and scouring for all the collectible weapon blueprints and Frank West statues, and that's before tackling the stiffer challenge and more oppressive time restrictions in Nightmare mode. The game isn't quite as off-the-wall insane as the Dead Risings that came before, but it's close enough that it should satisfy most franchise fans, while also being a lot easier to recommend to people who have previously found the overbearing quirks of this series a little too much to handle.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
75 Comments
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Posted by vencha

Glad this turned out better than many anticipated! Looks like fun but I have no real interest in the Xbone otherwise, unfortunately.

Edited by Ketta

SECOND

The streams of the game looked pretty good. If I did have a XBONE, this would be the one game I would buy at launch. The rest, not so much.

Posted by Deranged

Glad you really enjoyed the game Brad! I really dig it so far.

Posted by sparkster82

The timer and the zombrex hunt for the daughter of the hero in DR 2 was a bumer,because it was impossible to enjoy the combo weapons and their sillyness.
I more interested in the third one because it seems more fun.

Posted by KingdanglerBK

As I am looking at the intro screen on my TV about to play! Game is crazy fun and runs/looks great! I have been addicted to FORZA and Powerstar Golf since launch and am going to put some serious time into Dead Rising Today!

Also, Prison Architect got a new alpha today to fix the windows speed issues and make the game accept mods!

Posted by xxDrAiNxx

Great Game, Great Review !

Posted by VarrosAnon

This is the ONLY reason I got the Xbone, and the BEST reason I've ever had to get a console. Other than the really terrible occasional texture popping, this game is fantastic, and way better than any of the versions of DR2.

Posted by anbilow

Happy to see that Brad recovered enough from yesterday to post this.

Edited by Yummylee

This looks pretty damn great, and I'm especially appreciative that they opted to keep in a separate mode to cater to the veterans of the series, too. The environments are still lacking the traditional flamboyance and colour of previous games, though, least from everything I've seen.

Anywhoo, it's just too bad that Dead Rising 3 is restricted to a console I have little interest in getting for what'll undoubtedly be a fair while, as I would have gladly bought this ASAP otherwise.

Also, @brad how would you say Nick compares against series giants Frank West and Chuck Greene?

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Posted by Ejiku

Nice game. I'm totally using the Caravella method in this game. So dumb. So fun :)

Edited by csl316

I don't have an Xbox One (yet), but I'm glad this came together.

Edited by Zornack

I've been trying to get into this game for the past few days but I find it incredibly boring. The number of zombies and combo weapons are cool at first but after that you're left with fetch quests upon fetch quest. Oh well, everything can't please everybody.

Posted by Deathpooky

This definitely seems like the direction they needed to go. So much fun stuff in DR2 that was impossible to actually enjoy with the time restrictions. The older games basically encouraged you to find reliable weapons and orange juice, and spend most of your time running past zombies.

Posted by noizy

Soooo. Is this is a limited time console exclusive? I wouldn't mind getting it on PC in a few months.

Posted by BenRoyTurner

This is the only next gen game that I am chewing at the bit to play, but it will have to wait until Marh sadly.

Posted by Bistromath

So, not better than Brothers.

Edited by Endaro

Any comment about these bits?

The writing in Dead Rising 3 could have done with some rethinking as well, as several characters in the game represent tired, clumsy stereotypes. I fought a "psycho" named Jerii in a sequence that was basically one giant transphobic joke. I faced off against a gay stereotype so flagrant that he was literally wielding a giant, flaming penis gun. Another boss was an east Asian caricature that would've felt uncomfortable in an '80s action movie. And the less said about Hilde (aka the "sergeant") the better.

Yes, these characters are so far over the top they're in orbit, and meant to be satirical. But the writing is so poor and juvenile — for example, the gay psycho taunts Nick with such gems as — "ride my pole," and constantly alludes to his blue balls. It's tired, embarrassing and just plain dumb.

Did you find them prevalent? Did they bother you?

Edit: Hmmm, I assume this part of the review is in reference to them?

A couple of the psychos fall into slightly questionable stereotypical territory, but most of what's going on here is dumb and random in the amusing way that Dead Rising has always had about it.

Edited by GunnerJensen

@endaro:

Please don't bring that "political correctness" crap here.

Posted by Barrock

@endaro said:

Any comment about these bits?

The writing in Dead Rising 3 could have done with some rethinking as well, as several characters in the game represent tired, clumsy stereotypes. I fought a "psycho" named Jerii in a sequence that was basically one giant transphobic joke. I faced off against a gay stereotype so flagrant that he was literally wielding a giant, flaming penis gun. Another boss was an east Asian caricature that would've felt uncomfortable in an '80s action movie. And the less said about Hilde (aka the "sergeant") the better.

Yes, these characters are so far over the top they're in orbit, and meant to be satirical. But the writing is so poor and juvenile — for example, the gay psycho taunts Nick with such gems as — "ride my pole," and constantly alludes to his blue balls. It's tired, embarrassing and just plain dumb.

Did you find them prevalent? Did they bother you?

Edit: Hmmm, I assume this part of the review is in reference to them?

A couple of the psychos fall into slightly questionable stereotypical territory, but most of what's going on here is dumb and random in the amusing way that Dead Rising has always had about it.

He alludes to his "blue balls" because he's wielding a flame/ice thrower that has one ball that is blue and one that is red. And I might be stupid but I didn't actually think he was gay. I just thought he was a pervert representing the sin of lust. He's kidnapped a male and female and has them on a set for filming. He's wearing a gimp mask and other weird clothing and his weapon is obviously phallic.

Posted by Foxhound26621

I'm loving it so far.

Posted by Endaro

@barrock:

Appreciated. Having not played it, it's hard to discern what actually happened in most of those scenes as everyone just seems to allude to them rather than talk explicitly about them.

@gunnerjensen:

What does that even mean? Is the game so sacred that to ask about content is annoying political correctness? Is it really so bad to ask a reviewer for their opinion on something that seems to bother others?

Posted by Deusoma

As someone who felt that the time limits and endless restarting crippled and ultimately broke Dead Rising, I gotta admit, I find myself genuinely interested in the franchise for the first time since 2006. Well played, Capcom. I won't be able to play it for quite a while, but I'll definitely have to keep my eye on this one.

Posted by Krabonq

If Jeff would have reviewed it, I think it wouldn't have gotten more than a 3/5. At least judging by his comments on the live stream and QL.

Edited by ptys

Thanks Brad great piece, but this being a new generation graphically it would have been nice for you to mention the visual and audio differences with this running on new tech. Wish I owned an Xbox One... or could at least hire one.

Posted by BigJeffrey

This game is amazing.

Posted by Ferros

I'm really enjoying it, it's a blast. Don't know what the story actually is but the electrosledge is amazing!

Edited by DanFantastic

Easily my favourite dead rising game, found the first two to be a real chore but really enjoying this

Edited by DarkbeatDK

I've been playing it intensively over the week and like it a lot as well.

Did an Insanity Run the other night where I skipped on the survivors, went straight for the story missions and skipped cutscenes. When you're fully levelled up and have ridiculous weapons like the Split Shot, it's a breeze and I clocked it in around the time it took me to listen to the latest Bombcast.

Being a killing machine at that level is also a great way to bring the game engine to it's knees

Also, I don't think the Jehrii psycho fight is a transgender joke. That's literally what happens to the body if you are a woman who is into hardcore bodybuilding.

Edited by NMC2008

I somehow expected 4 stars, I can't quite explain how but I knew it, also I expect more 4 star reviews soon,

lol Did all the next gen games get 4 stars and below except Mario?

Posted by PanaMusica

GOTY qualifier: finish the game, then immediately start a 2nd playthrough. DR3: check

love this game, Jazz Hands FTW

Posted by AMyggen

Great review, Brad! Have a good weekend everyone, I'm off to re-watch the Persona 4 ER!

Posted by Linkachu95

@varrosanon: You also get to enjoy Titanfall next year.

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Edited by NTM

This is the game I want when it comes to Xbox One as of right now. Great review. I personally will play it on normal difficulty since Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 would be really great games to me, if they didn't have the strict timer, but the timer is little more than an interesting mechanic that I don't really like when it comes to experiencing a game the way I like to experience games.

Posted by Residentrevil2

Yeah, I bought it. ;^)

Posted by Time_Lord

To those of you that have played it what are the micro transactions like if there are any?

Posted by coolowlbro

This is the one game out right now that makes me want an XBone.

Edited by BuddyleeR

@nmc2008: well Mario isn't a launch title. And there were next-gen games Giantbomb didn't review that would certainly score a 2 or less (see: LocoCycle)

Posted by impartialgecko

Remember guys, Playstation has the best exclusives so fans should have a lot of fun not playing Dead Rising 3.

Oh god. You still exist. I thought we left you behind back in 2009 when making jabs at people's purchasing choices was all hip and cool.

Posted by BigJeffrey

To those of you that have played it what are the micro transactions like if there are any?

There are Zero. This game is my GOTY by far fucking amazing.

Edited by GermanBomber

Best Xbox One launch game in my opinion...I like zombies.

Edited by phantom_3d

main characters of this series have always been weak i hope they get around to fixing this in next game, then might enjoy story more which is also weak

Edited by Ronald

Haven't played through Nightmare yet but this is what I would give it so far. There are some weird issues such as how in game Nick is this killing machine but in cut scenes he turns into the cat who is scared of his own shadow. I guess the idea is to build his character for the end, but it still is a big disconnect when he is covered in the blood of thousands of zombies in the cut scene and is flinching at one zombie or a psycho, afraid of them. And the texture popping can get distracting, especially watching white stop lines and crosswalks appear while you are fighting a hundred zombies within the same area.

Still, as a game, not as a launch game, Dead Rising 3 is fantastic.

Posted by R3DT1D3

While they seemingly made a better game, I can't help but feel they made a worse Dead Rising. Sure the old games were obtuse but that had a charm to it in a way. The new streamlining makes it just another action game with some crazy boss fights and a dumb story.

Fighting Psychos all the time changed up the pace of the game and at low levels they were actually challenging compared to anything in DR3. Escorting survivors could be a hassle but it also lent itself to risk/reward choices. Having to gear up with weapons before you set out for an objective made it more purposeful. Brad wasn't even dying in the game and it's Brad.

TL DR, game is too mindless and I don't enjoy the fetch quest missions and reduction of psychos. Planning and challenge or absent in DR3.

Edited by m2cks

Remember guys, Playstation has the best exclusives so fans should have a lot of fun not playing Dead Rising 3.

Ah, so the last time I responded to your lazily copy-pasted comment I was just being baited, and you just want to start shit just for the sake of starting shit. Good contribution to the discussion.

Posted by ProfessorEss

I love Dead Rising. The fact that 2 exists still blows my mind so no matter what happened/happens with 3 I'm all thumbs up and smiles.

I mean even if this doesn't capture "the soul" of Dead Rising the fact that it exists, the fact that is an XBox exclusive launch title again, and the fact that it uses the same "show em how many people we can put onscreen" angle as the original makes this motherfucker a slam dunk for me.

...even if I never play it.

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