Zombies are everywhere these days. Something about the undead has made them part of the zeitgeist, and with more movies, television shows and books also comes more zombie video games. Such was the case with the Xbox One's launch library, and the exclusive Dead Rising 3. Developed by Capcom, the third entry in the successful zombie survival series has more zombies than ever before. It's also got a goofy, but engaging story, and some insanely fun combat. Maybe there's something to the zombie hype after all.
Ten years after the events in Fortune City in Dead Rising 2, the outbreak has found a new home in Los Perdidos. The city has been quarantined, and all exits out of the city have been closed off or destroyed for the safety of the rest of the west coast. At least, that's the way it appears at the onset of Dead Rising 3's story. As Nick Ramos, you'll have just seven days to save your closest friends and escape the city before it's razed by the government under auspices of the safety of the human race. Of course, the further you progress in Dead Rising 3's narrative, the more complex and (in true Capcom fashion) convoluted everything becomes. It's easy to be forgiving for many of the stretches Capcom makes for the sake of telling a more in-depth narrative thanks to the memorable characters, but there are moments (like the bizarre Hilde/USB subplot) that will have you wondering where you can get all the wonderful drugs the writers were apparently using.
Like its predecessors, Dead Rising 3 is an open-world action game where the object is survival at any cost. The seven day time limit is a real thing, and the clock starts ticking from the moment you start playing. While it's easy to feel a lot of pressure to perform under the gun, there's actually more than enough time to complete the eight main story missions and dozens of the side quests before the final seconds tick away. Unlike earlier entries, Dead Rising 3 is literally bursting at the seams with zombies. That's not to say we weren't impressed with Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 when those came out, it's just that Dead Rising 3 has so many zombies on screen at one time every street looks like Bourbon Street during Mardis Gras. It's impressive and terrifying all at once, and the satisfaction you get from mowing down an entire block of the undead is euphoric. Factor in each of the zombies has its own intelligence and body type, and you've got a game that finally makes you feel like you're attending a true apocalypse, and not one where 30 or 40 of your closest zombie friends showed up to watch the world end.
The weapon crafting system in Dead Rising has always been one of the franchise's hallmarks, and that's no different this time around. Virtually everything you find in the world can be picked up and used as a weapon. Like that lady's handbag? Smack a few zeds in the face with it. Thing a broadsword is more your style? That's cool because they have those, too. In addition to the hundreds of different single weapons, you can combine many pieces to make a more worthwhile melee armament should you find the right blueprints. Every time you find a new set of plans, the right tools for the job will be laying about to assist in your craftmaking. Additionally, every weapon you pick up or create will be saved back at the weapon locker in the numerous safehouses around Los Perdidos. Those of you familiar with Dead Rising's combo-based weapon system should feel right at home again in Dead Rising 3. With over 100 different weapons to craft and create with the hundreds of possible pieces, there's no shortage of ways to dispatch the zombie hordes. It should be noted though, because there is so much to pick up and use all over the world, you'll sometimes drop a good weapon by mistake and grab something terrible in its place. It's a minor issue, but the sensitivity of the "pick up item" prompt is a little wonky at times.
Dead Rising 3 does introduce vehicles into the mix for the very first time. Just like the random weapons you'll find, there will be muscle cars, vans, SUVs, taxis and more abandoned on the streets. Any car that still has flashing brake lights can be used, and mowing down a herd of zeds in a Camaro clone is a blast. Not to be outdone by the weapons, vehicles can also be combined together to make super-transportation. If you ever wondered what a motorcycle with a steamroller wheel would be like in the zombie apocalypse, wonder no more. Backhoes and ambulances can be combined for larger, electrified transports, and you can put almost any two cars together should you have the right blueprints. As Los Perdidos is so massive, having transportation to get around is a big help. Every vehicle handles terribly when on the open road or when making tight turns, but since there are so many zombies in your way, they act as undead stabilizers for traction control. Let's see Ford advertise that as a feature. Like the weapons, cars break down after sustained use. However, you can find them again at any garage you've discovered, and re-access them at any time in a pinch.
For all the good fun in Dead Rising 3, there are some questionable decisions in there, too. The story is more focused, but the series' Psychopaths return as side-missions this time around. Each Psycho is based on one of the seven sins, and while a few are well within the realm of reason (Harry, Kenny and Theodore), there are some that push the limits of good taste. Dylan, Darlene and Jherii take things a bit too far, and are more uncomfortable than they are enjoyable. Hilde would count here, too, if she wasn't a main boss, but man, she is so far beyond the line it's gross and not funny. Dead Rising has always fallen in the campy, B-movie genre, but that doesn't mean it should be excused for such one-dimensional and disturbing characters. Additionally, many of the survivors you'll find or save during such side-missions are more of a burden than a blessing, but at least you have the option of allowing them to run around the streets of Los Perdidos with you. Dead Rising 3 also offers drop-in, drop-out co-op over Xbox Live. It's okay, but Dead Rising 3 was more fun to play on our own than with another person.
Fans of the franchise might be bummed Dead Rising 3 is an exclusive to the Xbox One, but early adopters of Microsoft's new system have an impressive title in library. Dead Rising 3 not only shows off the Xbox One's power, but also happens to be a solid zombie survival game to boot. With it's vast open-world, seemingly endless weapon combo system and New Game+, there's virtually no end to the fun you'll have trying to survive in a world overrun with the undead.
This review was completed using a purchased retail copy of Dead Rising 3 for the Xbox One.