In the past I’ve never seen shambling zombies as a real threat. It just seems like running quickly or picking a relatively secure location would sidestep any danger this slower breed of zombie posed. Within a few minutes of sitting down with Dead Rising 3, though, my opinions were pretty much completely turned on their head.
You see, what Dead Rising 3 has really brought home is that a single zombie really isn’t much of a threat. Even a few zombies don’t pose much of an issue if you’ve got a weapon handy. No it’s when they form into a huge horde that you get a real issue, and that’s what Dead Rising 3 does on an impressive scale.
I’ve never really found a space for the Dead Rising series in my life before, so I can’t speak to the number of zombies that Capcom have been putting on screen in previous instalments, but in Dead Rising 3 the number of the undead being pushed by the Xbox One is truly impressive. They clog entire freeways with the sheer volume of bodies, making navigating the way through the open city the game presents you with a real issue at times.
Attempting to drive whatever vehicle has taken your fancy through one of these hordes almost feels like you’ve disturbed a nest of hornets, albeit ones that are more interested in eating your delicious brains than stinging you. They’ll swarm whatever you’re driving, or simply you if you’re on foot, slowing you down with their sheer weight, and forcing lower powered vehicles to a complete stop. Fortunately that same vehicle may well give you the ability to clear a way through the undead surrounding you.
While you’re certainly free to ride around in a perfectly normal car, pickup truck, van, forklift or whatever else you manage to find with a working engine, doing so is pretty much missing the point. It’s the game’s combination system that you’ll really want to play around with, creating contraptions that won’t just get you from point A to point B, but will do so in style while destroying zombies.
For example, the demo I played had a strategically placed steamroller and motorbike at the opening, which you can obviously combine to create a motorbike with a roller for a front tire that shoots fire and wipes out zombies like Dettol wipes out bacteria. I mean what else are you going to do with those two vehicles and a welding torch?
While initially I thought my ride was fairly ridiculous, it didn’t come close to some of the vehicles I saw when watching others play the game. For example, one guy had found a blueprint (all combinations of vehicles or weapons require uncovering the blueprint first) to combine a van with something electrical, although I’m not sure exactly what. The result was a van with, essentially, a giant tazer on top, zapping zombies that strayed too close.
Weapons are equally ridiculous. Oh sure, you can still combine a baseball bat and barbed wire to create something that Mick Foley would feel at home with, but you can also go all out to create super-combo weapons like the Mecha-Dragon Combo, a frankly ridiculous contraption that seems to combine a Chinese dragon, wings and something fiery to spawn an absolutely amazing suit that is just begging you to take out as many zombies as you can.
However, while the game certainly has a lot of gameplay high points, there were some graphical issues on show. Fortunately the frame-rate stutters that had been seen in earlier demos of the game when the screen filled with zombies seem to be gone, something that’s pretty impressive when you consider the sheer number of bodies the Xbox One’s pushing onto the screen. On the flip side, the textures do seem to have some issues.
There were points in my time with the game, as well as when watching others play, that the game’s high-res textures seemed to be pretty much refusing to load in, leaving signs and the sides of buildings looking blurry and incomprehensible. While keeping a seemingly solid frame-rate is certainly impressive in the context of the game, it doesn’t mean that it can get away with these kind of graphical issues. Hopefully the final build of the game that makes its way to consumers has these issues resolved, as they really do detract from the overall experience.
In spite of these graphical problems, Dead Rising 3 is quite simply fun in the most ridiculous way. The way the combination system is utilised across vehicles and weaponry is fantastic, and the variety that it provided in even the fairly limited section I played was quite something. When you couple that with the fairly substantial play area Capcom seem to be giving you, and the number and density of zombies that they’re populating that world with, then it’s safe to say that Dead Rising 3 is a real stand-out title for the Xbox One’s launch.