Dead Rising 3 is an obvious sequel to its predecessors–at least it is on the surface of the gameplay–but once you start playing the game, it becomes obvious that Capcom Vancouver has reworked Dead Rising 3 massively, and it makes for a very different game, with brand new challenges and highlights along the way.
So far, I’ve barely clocked much time on Dead Rising 3, because I only got my new Xbox One two weeks ago, but it’s not hard to spot what’s different about the game.
From the beginning, the stakes are not exactly high for our hero, Nick Ramos, but it’s easy to make him into a hero of sorts once you kill a few bad guys and level a few thousand zombies on the streets of the Los Angeles-esque Los Perdidos, California. Starting out, things are also very similar to the previous titles in the franchise: Nick is fairly weak to start out, he needs to be levelled up to do much damage, and the weapons are all very familiar, for the most part.
Once the prologue is done though, and Nick is out wandering the city, things quickly change from what we’ve come to expect. Nick doesn’t need a workbench to build things–he carries a blowtorch with him so he can build combo weapons on the go, not to mention combo vehicles.
You also level Nick up more like a role-playing game, with a broad set of attributes and specialties that you can spend points on.
Where the game especially feels different though is the fact that it’s much more of a free-form game this time out. So free-form, in fact, that it can almost feel aimless at times. Aside from collecting weapons and combo weapon or vehicle plans, there are points in the gameplay where I was really just wandering around looking for vehicles or even just a damn bathroom, since those aren’t marked on the map this time around (for the record, you save the game in bathrooms). That’s because there are set time-limits for events you can take part in, or for main plot points, but you’re not under the gun, as it were, to complete specifics tasks in very short timeframes, as in Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 (something that drove me crazy about the predecessors).
(Update: It’s worth mentioning that, thanks to a loud-mouth on Facebook, I discovered that you can actually save your game any time you like if you’re playing Story Mode. It’s only in Nightmare Mode that forces you to save in bathrooms or port-a-potties. This is a fact the game neglected to mention, but I also failed to notice the big “Save Game” option in the pause menu. It’s also worth mentioning that Nightmare Mode is actually the same as the old gameplay in the first and second game, with tougher bad guys, and the whole countdowns timers for each quest.)
What I love about the new game it that it’s a lot of what I expected from a next generation console, including the new combo weapons you can build. On top of that, while I rarely was very nervous in the past about large groups of zombies, it feels much more disconcerting when you see a massive group of over 200 zombies and realize that you don’t have any big weapons or vehicles to plow through them. The game has successfully found a way to make zombies feel much more dangerous this time out, and at the same time, it’s easier to mow them down with something like the RollerHawg (a combination of a steam roller and a motorcycle).
Even groups of 20 or 30 zombies can be downright deadly.
The other massive change is actually just social, and it’s more to do with Xbox One itself. Since the console allows you to record gameplay just by yelling out “Xbox record that,” it’s now actually easy to show off achievements, gameplay, and epic failure to anyone who might be interested. You can even edit the video, or add in commentary audio or video along with it. That’s revolutionary for an old gamer like me, and it makes it strange realizing–“hey, that was pretty cool. I should share that,” as you’re playing the game.
I’ll have my review online soon, and some more video as well, but for now, here’s a quick capture showing one of the more whimsical combo weapons: the Mecha Dragon Head, which can be very handy in a large crowd of zombies.