One of the numerous exclusives that will be part of the upcoming Xbox One’s catalogue is Dead Rising 3. Developed by Capcom, but published by Microsoft, it’s a combination that makes sense, given that the first helped to usher in the Xbox 360.
However, the new Dead Rising is quite the different animal. The basic framework largely remains the game, but in terms of tone and atmosphere, it’s something else. Something far grimmer and considerably darker.
Both parties jointly presented a non-interactive demo that introduced a brand new protagonist Nick Ramos. Right off the back it’s made clear that the zombie that have infested Los Perdidos, California are not to be trifled with, and Nick is not in the mood for fun and games.
The demo showed Nick trying to navigate the four different districts that the game covers, and while it may offer the same level of hijinks in previous installments, instead of everything being enclosed in colorful setting like a mall or casino, there’s death and devastation all around. Zombies have always been on your back, but it’s more apparent this time.
Still, the basics from before remain the same: there are plenty of zombies to kill and plenty of ways to do so. Carried over from Dead Rising 2 is the ability to combine weapons to form new ones, but instead of having to do your tinkering on a craft table, which was not necessarily convenient, Nick can create on the fly, since he’s a mechanic by trade.
And the new concoctions are just as wacky, if not more so than games past. The gun with a flashlight attached is hardly special, though certainly handy. Whereas the katana with a propane tank attached is different and destructive. To create new weapons,though, Nick needs to know what to make, which means collecting blueprints scattered throughout the city. As before, better weapons result in more points, which can be used to unlock new attributes.
But one new feature is how, unlocking a particular subsection of a skill tree will allow instant access to weapons that are associated to said attribute. Basically, you don’t have to skimp and save weapons as much as before.
Again, the zombies of Dead Rising 3 seem far more menacing, partly because they are less comical. They’re also far more equipped; at one point, Nick encounters a number of undead, former firemen, who all attack aggressively with axes and other tools of the trade. They’re also smarter; any sound or motion attracts them, and en masse. Not only that, but the places in which Nick can rest a bit, to collect himself, known as safe houses, are often infested by zombies and must be gotten rid of. They’re just all over the place.
Thankfully, one of the more popular means to get rid of many at once has carried over, and looks even better thanks to the more powerful hardware of the One. And that’s behind the wheel; at another point, we saw Nick use an SUV to mow down a ridiculously high number of zombies, with limbs flying everywhere.
But again, they’re more aggressive; plowing through a patch of undead might net a zombie on the roof or hanging from the side, hoping to reach in and accost Nick. Still, what makes the driving segment so impressive is that it emphasizes the lack of perceived loading of the environment. Everything connects seamlessly.
There are plenty of holdovers from the previous games, too. If you come across a magazine, you can enhance certain skills, like before. Also, different attire can be donned; in the demo, Nick found himself in a halfway house that happened to have a Servbot head in the bathroom. Though the demo person opted to put on a dress instead, alas.
The end of the demo was punctuated with a look across the city, one that is in the process of being picked apart, piece-by-piece. And more immediately, Nick found himself hopelessly surrounded by zombies, so it was time to call in the cavalry, and another new feature of Dead Rising 3: smart glass integration.
With the help of an accompanying smart phone all, presumably another player, can issue commands to help eliminate a large number of zombies in quick fashion, such as with an air strike.
In the end, Dead Rising 3 appears to have much of the flexibility that the series has become know for. But without the same goofy humor, will it still feel like fun times of old? We’ll have to wait and see.