If you're a fan of the original title and the sequel, then Dead Rising 3 is going to impress and please you. The series' intriguing lore and storyline, over the top, ridiculous psycho boss battles, and oodles of extravagant combo weapons are all present and accounted for, enhanced further by the Xbox One's powerful hardware. Dead Rising 3 is the personification of "if it aint broke don't fix it" and "more is always better".
Taking place in Los Perdidos - a fictional version of Los Angeles - you take on the role of Nick Ramos as he and a troop of survivors try to escape from the now zombie infected city before a military strike wipes out all organic life within it. It's Dead Rising setup down to a tee, with a large open area to explore, people to save, impending doom, and, of course, a huge amount of Zombies for you to massacre. Trying to escape the outbreak tasks you with retrieving parts for a plane located throughout the city. Meanwhile, you'll need to be saving everyone you can and also uncovering the truth behind the outbreak and your own mysterious past. And whilst the series has never been known for a particularly stellar narrative, those that do enjoy the over-dramatic spliced with the insane and a oddly serious undertone will find that same kind of storytelling here. Despite an aesthetic change that invokes a more down-to-earth tone, this is still clearly the same Dead Rising we all know and love.
The visual style isn't the only thing that's changed. Combo weapons , which you could only build previously from work benches, can now be built anywhere. As long as you have the blueprints and the materials then you can craft your contraptions of death with gay abandon. It changes the way you play. Now, instead of relying on whatever you can pick up at the time, you are more likely to be able to cobble something together on the fly that's more effective against the undead horde. It certainly takes some of the desperation out of surviving the outbreak, but with the sheer number of zombies now present it's a change that suits the new challenge.
Indeed the zombie count is the most noticeable change. Made possible through the Xbox One hardware there are now hundreds of zombies on-screen. It's an incredibly impressive sight to witness such innumerable zombies, with such variety, shambling down the streets or hungrily thrashing about and chasing after you. Countless times you'll turn a corner and come across a mass so dense you'll wonder how on Earth you're going to get through them. And as you progress, more powerful zombie types join the general population, including hulking escaped convicts, armed zombies still clutching their weapon and firing off negligent discharges, or even college football players that tackle you to the ground.
The large open-world city of Los Perdidos is significantly larger than the previous titles' locations, offering up four districts linked by highways. Fortunately you're not restricted to getting around on foot, as a selection of vehicles can be used and even combined to create extravagant maiming machines. With vehicles and the huge amount of undead littering the roads you can rack up thousands of kills relatively quickly, and it never gets old. Jumping into a steam roller and crushing your rotting foes is hugely satisfying, but combining a steam roller with a motorbike to create a bike where its front wheel is the roller is just wonderful. Gratuitous perhaps, but so much fun. And once your vehicle finally succumbs due to too much damage, and explodes in a glorious ball of fire and smoke, you can use your crazy selection of combo weapons to slice through to your destination. Old favourites like the laser sword (lightsaber) return, whilst new tools of death, such as wearing a fire breathing dragon's head, a set of metal wings, and jet propulsion offer up more creative ways to survive the city. It's crazy and over the top but, once again, undeniably fun.
As with the previous entries in the series, there's a time limit to consider. The city is due to be bombed in a matter of days and it's imperative that you complete the story missions so you can escape before this happens. A day and night cycle is in place, with zombies growing in voraciousness once the sun sets, acting more aggressively as a result. Meanwhile, you're earning PP - Dead Rising's version of experience points - in order to upgrade Nick's abilities such as health, the amount of people that can join your posse and follow you around, the durability of weapons and items, etc. You can even make upgrades that relax the restriction on what materials you need to construct combo weapons. Killing zombies, discovering Frank West trophies - the original Dead Rising's protagonist - and completing side missions all grant you PP. The side missions pop up with time windows for you to save survivors which may join your posse and aid you afterwards, along with psycho battles - Dead Rising's version of boss fights. This time around, the psychos aren't as much of a threat. You'll still need to figure out their weaknesses when you're doing battle, and having a couple food items to replenish health and a couple of good weapons to hand saves scrounging once you've engaged them, but taking them out is far less of a hassle. None of them feel overpowered or beyond your level.
Unfortunately, the side missions tend to rely far too heavily on fetch quests. You'll frequently be traipsing between the four districts to pick up these missions only to be 'rewarded' with dull shopping lists that required you fetch so many of a certain type of item. There's a disappointing amount of variety to them that can make them a chore. Additionally, the standard story mode is a little too easy, giving you auto save and save anywhere features, as well as plenty of time to save everyone, find all the collectables, and generally meander about. It's highly accessible though, and for those looking for the series' traditional difficulty then "Nightmare" mode grants your wish, restricting saves to manual and specific locations, making the zombies far stronger, and the time limits far stricter.
It's not just a denser population of zombies you need to sift through on the streets of Los Perdidos, as there are tons of items strewn about. Once the weapons and food in your inventory are worn down and broken/consumed you needn't fret, as you won't have to travel far to pick up something that can be used to strike or shoot zombies, or that can be eaten for health. There's stuff everywhere and it unfortunately can make picking up specific items a little tricky. There's simply so much piled on top of each other than you may need to stop and take a few steps to line yourself up with what you really want, which gives the undead a chance to take a bite out of you. Here's where having a coop partner proves particularly useful, as they can cover your back by fighting off the horde and also make use of the Kinect integration to attract zombies over to them with audio cues. Indeed, the online coop works flawlessly and even allows you to pick up blueprints and take them back with you to single player mode once you've disconnect.
Standing in a mankini, wearing a Blanka mask and wielding a phallic-shaped flamethrower with the propane tanks attached like testicles, Dead Rising 3 well and truly brings the ridiculous whilst delivering a semi-serious narrative to the zombie slaughtering. It's utterly crazy and equally fun and with its improved visuals, increased size of the open-world playground, density of items and zombies and tweaks to the established formula, it delivers a great action game. There's nowhere near enough changes to bring in new players, but series fans are well catered for here. Despite the uninspired side missions, Dead Rising 3 is a highly accessible and enjoyable zombie maiming thrill ride.