Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One) Review – Open World Zombie Brain Bashing at its Finest

There is something about open world sandbox style games we all love.  Whether it be Saints Row IV or Grand Theft Auto V, we seem to have no problem dropping some hard earned cash on a game that gives us that ability to explore an open world setting, complete endless side missions, and plow through a single player story at our own pace.  Now let’s take that sandbox style game and throw in thousands, check that more like hundreds of thousands of zombies scattered everywhere.  To the point where it feels completely suffocating.  That is essentially what you get in Dead Rising 3 for the Xbox One.  It’s frustrating at times and intense.  The characters aren’t incredibly interesting and the story lacks much in the way of originality. Yet this zombie game is so hard to put down.

Within minutes of playing Dead Rising 3 that overwhelming feeling hit me.  There is a scene in the early going where I was overlooking a highway in the fictional city of Los Perdidos and it was a never ending sea of zombies.  I recall saying to myself, “oh my god, how the heck am I going to make it past all of them”.  It was incredible and certainly showcased some of the technical powers of the Xbox One.  They didn’t move particularly fast and the grunts didn’t exactly send the hairs on the back of my neck on edge, but the sheer volume of zombies was impressive and completely overwhelming.

As impressive as the scale of this zombie outbreak is, the same cannot be said for the story.  Sadly, it is mostly forgettable.  If you have seen the odd zombie movie, watched Walking Dead or if you have played any zombie game over the past decade, Dead Rising 3 will feel awfully familiar.  Following the zombie infestation, the government has blocked off the city.  You only have a matter of days to round up some survivors and get out of dodge before the government nukes the city of Los Perdidos.  There are twists and turns along the way as our main hero Nick Ramos does whatever it takes to escape but in the end I found this plotline mostly predictable.  I wish I cared about these characters more than I actually did.

The story and all those cut-scenes however are merely filler.  They are the salads at a buffet line.  The bread served before dinner.  The real ‘meat’ in this game comes in the form of slaughtering zombies with the many, and I mean many, customizable weapons and vehicles.  Some of the customizable weapons are straight forward.  For instance if you combine a flashlight and handgun you get a “Tactical Handgun”.  Not a big deal right?  Well what happens when you put together a dragon head and some motor oil?  What you get is a “Flaming Helmet”.  When you slap the “Flaming Helmet” on a zombie’s head, flames burst out of its mouth burning any zombie within arms-length.  It is pretty cool stuff.  These combos seem endless and they are so much fun in action.  The only downside is you cannot unlock them all from the get go.  As you progress along you will find blue prints which unlock the various combinations.  Finding those blue prints always seem to put a smile on my face and I am sure they will put one on yours.

Dead Rising 3 includes exploration, finding collectibles, as well as lots of side missions and other challenges giving the game amble replay value.  Some involve simply killing a group of zombies around a survivor trapped on a roof or on top a vehicle.  Others involve simple fetch quests.  There are also some boss fights that are completely separate from the single player story.  These boss fights are easily some of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of the game.  Unless you have full command of the games control scheme I would highly recommend you hold off on these until near the end or at least until you have built up some of your attributes and have a couple of bad ass weapons in your arsenal.  For me, these boss fights were challenging and I died several times.  I would not mind the fights so much if it weren’t for those dreaded long loading screens after you die.  Considering this is the next gen era, a 45-second load screen after you die seems far too excessive.

Despite some of those painfully long load times, once you get into the game Dead Rising 3 is a hoot.  There are plenty of things to do and it’s a game you can easily sink 30-hours into.  I would literally spend hours fiddling with weapon combinations then hacking and slashing zombie after zombie.  Likewise, I found rolling over packs of zombies with my “Rollerhawg” highly enjoyable and satisfying.  The vehicles you can create in this game are awesome!  You do have to manage your time a little in the game as well.  Some of the side missions are timed so if you completely ignore them, all the sudden you will get message on your screen that the mission failed.  So there is not as much freedom as perhaps you may have become accustomed to in other open world games.

Visually, Dead Rising 3 is not a bad looking game but it certainly isn’t a great looking game either.  Sure it’s better looking than any Xbox 360 games but I just expected a little more in the graphics department.  The games environments are sharp looking and the zombies are nicely varied; however, I did encounter the odd frame rate issue and the game outright crashed on me in one instance.  Not to mention some of those load times seem ridiculously long.  For game that was downloaded directly onto my hard drive, I expected a much quicker load time.  This being said, Dead Rising 3 is a large game and when you take into consideration the development time Dead Rising 3 is an impressive feat.

As with the visuals, the sounds in the game are decent but certainly not the best in the business.  The developers did a nice job with the zombie sound effects at night, as the grunts and groans managed to do the job.  Likewise the voice acting is decent but nothing incredibly memorable.  The soundtrack is solid featuring a nice mix of dynamic music which amps up as the game becomes more intense.  At the end of the day Dead Rising 3’s audio department does exactly what it set out to do but it won’t rock your world.

Dead Rising 3 isn’t the best launch game on the Xbox One but it has easily made a great case for itself as one that should seriously be considered.  Sure, there is nothing incredibly original about the game but the sheer size and magnitude of this zombie outbreak is undeniably impressive and certainly gives us a glimpse of what we can expect from these next generation consoles.  Dead Rising 3 is not a game that takes itself too seriously and it is all about having a great time; and a great time you will have.  Out of all the launch games that I have been playing I have the most difficulty putting this one down and there is something to be said about that.



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