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Dead Rising 3

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I’ve never had a deep affinity for the Dead Rising series. I’ve found them interesting but the intrigue of their stories never kicked in for me after having my fun slamming traffic cones onto the heads of zombies, running around in peculiar mascot outfits to subvert the bloody carnage, and slapping together crafted weapons strapped together with duct tape.

The fact that I couldn’t save (or enjoy regular auto saves) where ever I liked didn’t help, either, and my patience wore thin after being forced to replay through meaty sections of the games when trying to experiment and have fun.

So when Dead Rising 3 was announced as an exclusive game for Xbox One (and from the developers of Dead Rising 2, Capcom Vancouver nee Blue Castle), my hopes immediately became selfish in that I wanted a massive open-world game in which I could easily transition from sandbox zombie destruction to more structured missions to keep me interested all the way until the end.

From what I saw of Dead Rising 3 during E3 2013, it looks as though I might just get my wish.


Dead Rising 3 Reveal Trailer


Guided by Dead Rising 3 producer John Erheart, the E3 demo introduced us to the game’s protagonist, Nick Ramos, a mechanic in a previous life (prior to the mysterious zombie outbreak) with a “mysterious past.” Unlike previous games (and thanks to Ramos’ handyman abilities), you’ll be able to craft special weapons wherever you like as you run around the world of Los Perdidos, California, and we joined Ramos as he found himself in one of the area’s four districts, Engleton.

Just this single area was immense, and Erheart says that even though the world is filled with literally thousands of zombies that are extremely keen to snack on some fresh meat and often block your path, you’ll always be able to find new routes through the city with the sheer level of environment density injected into the game. If one route is blocked, you can always find a sewer, alley, rooftop, fire escape or empty store to use as an alternate means of reaching your destination. Movement capabilities have been improved to let you take advantage of these new routes, too, and we saw Ramos clambering over fences, smashing through windows and shimmying over ledges to reach different areas.

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Ramos was currently in the process of finding a safe house in the area but was being thwarted at every turn by the hordes of zombies in the streets and side alleys of Engleton, but with a few swings of a sledgehammer he could smash his way through at least a few of the shambling dead. To make this blunt object more effective, he found a blueprint for a special weapon – the Sledge Saw – that allowed him to strap a cement saw to the sledgehammer. There was much carnage.

It seems as though there’s no gore limit in Dead Rising 3, and Ramos was able to slice zombies in half and butcher them in equal measure, with the added ability to chop off individual limbs, too. Prestige Points (or PP) make a return to the series and start popping off as more zombies are killed, with extra points awarded for how you destroy them. Special skill moves are unlocked as your zombie kill count increases, and using these moves earns you more PP so you’ll be encourage to kill these creatures with at least a bit of thought powering your actions.

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While guns and projectile weapons do feature in Dead Rising 3, with an array of rifles, pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers and more to find around Los Perdidos, the series’s combat has always (mainly) been about melee attacks and to this end, any item you find in the world can act as a weapon. Interestingly, the series’ focus on animation priority is back so instead of instantly hitting a zombie at the press of a button, Ramos will wind up his attack based on the heft of the object – a knife slash will be a lot faster than a sledgehammer swing, for example – making the hits all the more satisfying if they land properly.

More so than ever, Dead Rising 3 will allow players to use all kinds of vehicles (from cars and trucks, to bikes and construction vehicles) to get from place to place, which gives you a good excuse to run headlong into a crowd of a thousand zombies milling about at a street intersection. Ramming into undead hordes is a great way of slicing through to the next objective, but zombies do tend to cling onto your vehicle so Ramos often had to fight off these hangers-on before they ripped him from his seat and dragged him into the midst of (near)inescapable danger.

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Capcom was keen to let us know that Dead Rising 3 features a world free of load times, so you’ll be able to drive from one side of the city to the other without any additional waiting time courtesy of the streaming technology of the game. It’s a good thing, then, that you won’t be limited to special areas in order to save your progress (as in previous Dead Rising games), and there won’t be a timer counting down to a hard end game where you’ll need to start over (although both of these restrictions will be present in the game’s Nightmare difficult setting).

The open-world nature of the city also lends itself to Dead Rising 3’s new zombie ‘horde mentality’ where if one of the monstrosities spots you, it will alert its ‘friends’ that a potential mealtime has appeared, which means big trouble for you. You can take advantage of this group think, however, because zombies are attracted to noise and light so with a quick shot of a flair gun or by hitting a car to start its alarm (or accidentally triggering a store alarm), you can move a sea of zombies to another area and out of your path.

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When trying to reach specific parts of the city, like a safe house, this ability comes in handy, especially when you aren’t entirely sure where that safe house is, exactly. Other survivors will leave markings as clues to these room’s locations, but searching them down requires some intense and regular run-ins with the local undead so using some tricks to mitigate these encounters is welcome. Once in a safe house, Ramos is able to rest and replenish supplies, as well as dip into the weapons locker (that contains all of your previously discovered and crafted weapons) and the clothing closet (where you can customise Ramos’ look with different, ridiculous outfits).

You might also find weapon blueprints at a safe house to unlock a new special weapon, or a book that lets Ramos imbue himself with a special skill if that book is ‘equipped.’ Books give you special perks and abilities that enhance your vanilla skill set, and combined with an upgrade system (using points gained per character level, fed by accumulated PP), you can kit out Ramos and let him specialise in melee combat, agility and others, or flatten out his skills to become a good all-rounder. Don’t be surprised if a safe house is overrun by zombies, though – you’ll need to clear the room out before you can use it!

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During the E3 demo for Dead Rising 3, we were also introduced to the game’s use of Smartglass where a special application loaded up on a tablet or smartphone device can be used to set waypoints on your map, which will show up in-game for you to follow. If you’re looking for a specific gun to use as an ingredient in a blueprint, for example, you can click on the gun store icon in the app and you can follow the set waypoint in Dead Rising 3.

I’m a little iffy about this particular example and I hope you’re still able to set waypoints in the game, proper. Map navigation in open-world games needs all the help it can get as it is, and limiting functionality to a separate application seems like a bizarre restriction. You will be able to do other things through the Dead Rising 3 Smartglass app, however, including calling in airtstrikes to take out a city block’s worth of zombies, but I hope there’s more to it than this.

Capcom is billing Dead Rising 3 as an ‘ultimate open-world zombie action game,’ and is to be the biggest and most ambitious Dead Rising game ever created. Using the Xbox One, Capcom Vancouver doesn’t have to sacrifice the game’s range of gameplay options or size of the world in order to increase the zombie count, and the team is aiming to take the series in a more ‘mature and sophisticated’ direction thanks to the power afforded to them.

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This being said, the E3 demo ran a little choppy with an inconsistent framerate throughout, so I’m hoping this is ironed out when the game launches with the Xbox One later this year. Previous Dead Rising games suffered the same problems on consoles, though, which is a concern. Other concerns include the fact that you can’t take photos (like other Dead Rising games) to earn extra PP, but perhaps Ramos has another skill that we’re yet to learn about other than an aptitude for photography.

What I did like to see was near to the end of the demo, where an (as yet) unknown character called in through the radio to let Ramos know about some fireworks activity (literally) in another part of town, which may or may not be more survivors, adding a new adventure for Ramos to embark upon after fifteen minutes of sandbox roaming. Maybe I’m just uncreative, but I like a bit of structure to my games so that I don’t get bored of making my own fun in the world, so this push to investigate was great to see.

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My last wish for Dead Rising 3? No frustrating escort missions… or maybe none at all. Making me fail a mission because a survivor in need of a guide to a safe house didn’t follow me properly is an easy way to get me to turn off a game.

Dead Rising 3 looks like a great open-world sandbox game filled with gruesome action, lots of customisation options, a vast and detailed world to explore, and lots and lots of zombies. If this is combined with a well-paced story that gives me a good mission structure to work through, then this will be the first Dead Rising game I actually complete. With the chance to hop into the game with a friend in co-operative mode, the zombie destruction will be all the sweeter.


Dead Rising 3 Screenshots

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