Dead Rising 3 Review
An enjoyable zombie romp that suffers from some technical issues
After initially releasing as an Xbox exclusive in 2006, then switching to multiplatform in 2010, Dead Rising returns to exclusivity on the Xbox One with its third numerical entry. The series continues to loosely tie itself together with a bizarre cannon that registers closely to the weirdness of George A. Romero’s original zombie flicks. Dead Rising 3 follows in the footsteps of the franchise’s strange history, throwing the obscene and grotesque in your face with a smile and a wink. Much like the rest of the series, Dead Rising 3 seems to be aware of its tone and thinks we should love it all the more for its brazen crassness. Whatever your feelings on the series’ odd tendencies, players will uniformly hate the constant bugs that plague the game, making Dead Rising 3 a technical mess.
While the franchise was created by the legendary designer, Kenji Inafune, it was forced to look for new direction following the nasty split between Inafune and Capcom. The result is a different look and starkly different difficulty. The first two games had old-school mechanics, with specific save locations and a timer constantly counting down. Dead Rising 3 discards these oddities in favor of an easier and less stressful game. The departure continues with the murky aesthetic, gone are Inafune’s bright colors and attempts at humor. Dead Rising 3 is a darker game, maybe not a serious game, but it lacks the outrageous stabs at laughs that the previous titles had.
On the whole, Dead Rising 3 is a solid zombie adventure, filled with plenty of gory fun for you to get lost in. Running around, grabbing collectibles and finding new ways to slay the undead has a solid rhythm and the layout of side quests is a strength of the design. Most of the side missions feel rewarding, especially as you begin to build a crew of survivors to roll with. Removing the headache of looking for workbenches has also improved the game’s pacing, and restocking at safe houses allows for more experimentation and discovery. All in all, Dead Rising 3 is a game that strives towards enjoyment. The game wants you to try making combo vehicles and crazy weapons, it wants you to go hunting for collectibles and to do all of the side missions.
That is not to say all of Dead Rising 3’s changes are for the better. The difficulty has been toned down to the point where it is almost impossible to die and thus the game lacks tension. There are moments in Dead Rising 3 where you find yourself ducking through a horde of zombies, hoping to come out the other end unscathed, but they are few and far between. By the end of the game, you will have survived so many zombie hordes that they feel almost insignificant, more of an annoyance than dangerous. There are also problems with the layout of the city, which has four neighborhoods each with only two entrance/exits. Throughout the game, more and more roadblocks are established, forcing you to take the same paths over and over again. After two thirds of the game, nothing feels new or interesting. The game has spent so much time being bombastic and one-upping itself that it no longer surprises or engages the player.
The characters populating Dead Rising 3, and the narrative driving the player forward, are also a mixed bag. The series has always offered some interesting characters with a hint of depth, then supported them with offensive cookie-cutter stereotypes. Dead Rising 3 is more of the same in this regard. The bad guys are bad because they are, and the good guys have hints of interesting moments that fall flat. Character motivations change at the drop of a hat, entire factions are wiped out because they have become inconvenient to the story, and other moments are just plain offensive. It’s hard to get too critical with the plot as the game seems pretty self-aware, almost taking pride in being bad and grotesque at times. Dead Rising 3 may lack the emotional storytelling other games have, but it’s not really interested in wowing you with plot, it mostly is just giving you another reason to go somewhere and kill more zombies.