Review: Dead Rising 3

It’s taken a long time for the Dead Rising series to mature, a whole console generation in fact. For many however, maturity is not what was needed, nor wanted. While Dead Rising 3 retains the silly hats and comedy weapons that the series has become famous for, it’s no longer a tongue-in-cheek pastiche at the horror genre. You are Nick, a handyman who is fighting for survival against the odds in a town that is plagued with the undead, and you have neither the charm nor wit or Frank or Chuck.

Dead Rising 3 is arguably an experience that gamers will already have been privy to on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles simply given more scope and better visual quality thanks to the new hardware. The videogame externalises the gameplay of the previous Dead Rising videogames by offering a large city to roam rather than a tight, confined mall. This has both advantages and disadvantages, some obvious and others not so. Dead Rising 3 fans make take offence to the renovations of the save system, instant weapon combos and safe zones, but they’re sure to love the greater freedom to explore afforded.

Dead Rising 3 features co-operative gameplay that functions similarly to Dead Rising 2, and at the beginning of the videogame invites the player to opt for a ‘play style’ to determine what field of match-making their potential partners will be coming from. Once into the videogame players can partake in missions as they choose, be they side missions, story missions, rescuing civilians or simply exploring. Players are given much more room to indulge than in previous titles, but the overarching time pressure remains. Negotiating between side missions and story missions is just as big a part of the experience as it ever was, but Dead Rising 3 is far more flexible in it’s campaign restarts than any previous title in the series allowing the player to remunerate on those missed opportunities at a later date.

The instant combining of weapons is obviously a design decision that’s been incorporated to reflect the much more open nature of Dead Rising 3’s world. Having players hemmed in by the need to find a work bench would be counterintuitive, and the demand would necessitate one on nearly every corner. Instead players are given much more freedom here just as with the exploration: freedom to go nuts on zombie heads as soon as they hit the street, or better yet mow them down with one of the eleven vehicle combinations now available.

The visual design of Dead Rising 3 is far removed from previous titles, less colourful and lively and attempting to be more ‘gritty.’ It isn’t. It’s simply more dull, which is a shame. The character models, weapons, vehicles are all far superior in their quality than any previous Dead Rising title, but not so much that you’d argue the transition to the new generation of console hardware has been essential. The same characters could have been presented just as well on lesser hardware, though their animation and skin textures are obviously a step above. Sadly there’s a degree of pop-in and a very limited draw distance for certain objects, resulting in a less than perfect image at regular occurrences.

A flawed yet fun experience, Dead Rising 3 is symbolic of launch titles throughout the many console generations. It’s a videogame that make a few new moves thanks to the added horsepower of new hardware but does little that hasn’t seen before. It’s enjoyable and engrossing in it’s story delivery – despite the odd misstep and ham-fisted character presentation – and as such would be considered a worthy addition to the Dead Rising franchise regardless of which format it launched on.

Score: 7

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