'Dead Rising 3' Review (Xbox One): Stop Worrying And Enjoy The Zombie Apocalypse

'Dead Rising 3' Review

'Dead Rising 3' will be released for the Xbox One at launch on 22 November.

Key Features:

  • Massive game-world (bigger than DR1 and DR2 combined)
  • 100s of customisable weapons, costumes and vehicles
  • Hundreds of zombies on screen at once
  • Seamless, no-load time open world exploration
  • Accessible gameplay (and 'Nightmare' mode)
  • Full integrated multiplayer co-op
  • Smartglass and Kinect integration

The Pitch

"Featuring a massive and dynamic world, Dead Rising 3 represents a new benchmark for open-world gameplay. Powered by Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 lets you Explore the city of Los Perdidos while staying immersed in the action and stunning new-generation visuals"


If you're looking for a singular moment with which to introduce yourself to Xbox One's slice of next-gen, you don't have to wait long in 'Dead Rising 3'. About 10 minutes into the opening sequence, you'll exit an underground bunker and come face to face with a seething mass of zombies crowded onto a highway. And there are hundreds of the things. They swarm around the broken, burned-out cars, gesture towards you in fury and would almost be beautiful in their vast, pixel-perfect numbers, if they weren't also the horrendously deformed undead.

But while the sight off the zombie horde alone is impressive, that's not quite the moment. Not yet. Because after a few panicked opening melees, you'll find a vehicle and be instructed to barrel off towards a safehouse elsewhere in the massive open city. At which point you'll judder into the mass of screeching wretches, watch the blood splatter as dozens fall under your rumbling wheels, gaze in appalled wonder as the ever-present zombie-kill-o-meter start to tick upwards, shake your controller as the vehicle starts to be shoved by the undead clinging to the side… and then you'll get it. The overwhelming sense that while all this is familiar, it's also different than before.

'Dead Rising 3' is a massive, seamless spectacle, which as a technical workout for the Xbox One hints at the machine's potential while enabling a scale of zombie mayhem that genuinely wouldn't have been possible before.

The game has no loading screens, sharp graphics and stupidly huge crowds of angry zombies at virtually every turn. It doesn't reach the visual heights of some launch games in pure polygon-pushing sparkle, but it looks very decent. In general it also runs at a decent clip. It's true that the game does slow down a tad when storming into the bigger crowds, but it didn't ever feel like a "broken" experience, and didn't ruin the fun. We didn't test the game for frame-rates in the manner of more specialist gaming sites, but our impression was that any slow-down is relatively rare, and isn't a deal-breaker.

Scope and graphics aside in many ways 'Dead Rising 3' is not a tremendously ambitious game. It's essentially an open-world action adventure, with relatively simplistic fighting mechanics, missions and boss battles, which hangs its hat on its traditionally bombastic and ridiculous variety of craftable weapons, vehicles and costumes which you can use to destroy endless mobs of largely stupid ghouls.

And in this effort, the game - while not that surprising in its basic DNA - is an entertaining success. You'll spend most of your time roaming the city of Los Perdidos, in which you've been trapped amid another national zombie outbreak, picking up virtually anything in sight with which to attack enemies - and more importantly craft into more impressive weapons with the help of blueprints scattered about the map. And you'll be having a ton of fun while you're doing it. It's cathartic and silly. It rarely makes sense. It's pick-up-and-play. And it's really funny.

The first few weapons combos you'll make out of the hundreds available are satisfying and brutal - even the very early SledgeSaw combo is a thumping way to dispatch a zed-head. But by the end of the game you'll be using safety cones to build devastating acoustic cannons capable of blasting zombies into the far distant skyline, 'jazz hand' glove-mounted guns and melee weapons paying direct homage to Street Fighter. This time around you're also free to craft hybrid vehicles, which can be as simple as a motorbike-steamroller or as insane as a firework-equipped mega tank. All of these weapons are enjoyable to use, but they're also breakable and temporary. While you can always restock care of an inexplicable safehouse weapons locker, you're often forced to improvise - which keeps the game desperately entertaining, even into the later stages.

To its credit, while the game does feature a full and vaguely dark (while also slightly slapstick) storyline, involving yourself (a "young mechanic with a strange tattoo and a mysterious past"…er?) working with other survivors to escape the city, you're rarely forced to follow the linear path for very long. On 'Story Mode' at least ('Nightmare' mode is more traditionally hardcore) you can restart chapters and missions at will, explore the city and generally take the game at your own pace. That's helpful, not just because the missions aren't always tremendously interesting or innovative but because, as with previous Dead Rising games, you'll probably make more fun on your own.

With the addition of a great co-op mode, which lets you match up with players at any point in their story while earning XP that will carry over into your own game, and some decent, if not essential Kinect integration (motion controls to escape zombie grapples, and shouting orders for your survivors to scavenge, attack or run away, for instance), the result is a very enjoyable and tidy zombie game.

There is always pressure on console launch exclusives to deliver something more extraordinary or ground-breaking than is realistic, or - historically at least - precedented for teams working on new hardware, under pressure to meet a hard global deadline. And no, Dead Rising 3 is not a world-changing game and probably isn't a classic. In the initial bluster of the Xbox One launch, you might also feel that it's not pushing the boundaries enough to count as a truly next-gen title. If you've dropped £400 for an Xbox you might also worry that it's showing the One's limits already. That seems unlikely - though it remains to be seen.

But… whatever. Larger console narratives aside, you'll have fun, kill a lot of zombies and impress your mates. And that's sort of the point, after all. Our advice? Stop worrying and enjoy the apocalypse.


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