The Dead Rising series has always been characterized by its comedic tone and lavish utilization of environmental items as weapons. Dead Rising 3 adopts a more realistic aesthetic style which suggests the over-the-top gameplay has been toned down. Thankfully, this is not the case as the latest entry is littered with whacky, absurd humour which evokes a B-movie feel. Dismembering zombies has never been so satisfying due to the mammoth scale which is technically quite impressive and the PC version makes for an even more glorious experience.
Throughout the story, you play as Nick Ramos who is a naive and idealistic mechanic with a great sense of morality. Unfortunately for Nick, he ends up embroiled in a city where human civilization is on the verge of being decimated. Los Perdidos suddenly becomes engulfed by a host of ravaging zombies who savagely attack innocent people for their human flesh. The situation becomes so perilous that the military enacts an edict to bomb the entire city and eliminate the zombie horde. Nick’s mission is to escape within 6 days and help fellow citizens along the way. On the whole, the plot is quite preposterous but also has a underlying charm to it. However, I’m not entirely convinced that Nick is an interesting lead protagonist. Nevertheless, the story within a zombie action game is fairly irrelevant and you tend to have a blasé attitude towards it.
Dead Rising 3 relies on a fairly rudimentary combat system which contains light and heavy strikes alongside gory signature moves. that can be performed after you have attained a large enough killstreak. Every weapon you select is degradable and features a limited amount of successful hits before it disintegrates. Your inventory can store up to 4 simultaneous items which lends itself to contrasting ways of zombie mutilation. Adopting a two-weapon mechanic would have made the combat fairly mundane and frustrating considering there are 320 instruments of destruction scattered throughout the city. There are a host of weapons to choose from including pogo sticks, RC cars, electric guitars,toy robots, microwaves and even cuddly teddy bears! Capcom Vancouver have been extremely inventive and created a dynamic city with tools for destruction around each corner.
The combat is enhanced by the zombie animations and their viscous reactions as you clobber them. Scores of zombies manoeuvre in a methodical way and propel themselves onto you during close proximity. Individually, they pose little threat but the huge scale means you are quickly surrounded on every front with nowhere to run. As such, you have to fight your way out of trouble and keep moving to avoid the oncoming onslaught. An interesting inclusion comes from the stronger enemies which have dangerous weaponry and require multiple hits to take down. For example, fireman zombies are immune to fire attacks, have a great deal of strength and create devastating damage with their piercing axe. These semi-boss figures meld into the large crowds and can catch you off guard.
QTEs are a contentious issue, but in the case of Dead Rising 3, they aren’t overbearing and only crop up every so often. Whenever a zombie latches onto you and tries to devour your body, then a QTE will ensue requiring a single button prompt. It is virtually impossible to fail and the meter moves at a fast enough pace so it doesn’t reduce the momentum of the overall combat.
Dead Rising 3’s health system is based on food or medical pickups to give your character sustenance and repair the damage caused by the zombie outbreak. In contrast to the readily available weapon drops, health items are more sparse but still not terribly difficult to find. These items are stored in your inventory alongside weapons so finding a balance between weaponry and emergency health aids is vital. I didn’t witness many occasions when the health bar suddenly depleted so I would presume the damage occurs in a forgiving manner.
The most effective means to disperse a large concentration of zombies is through the deserted, parked vehicles around the city complex. Careering into a slew of zombies at high speed propels them out of the way and creates a safe racing line for travelling long distances. However, the zombies are remarkably resilient so they attach themselves to your vehicle and attempt to derail your progress. To counteract these attacks, you must apply the handbrake to aggressively swerve and throw the zombies off your hood. In a similar vein to the main combat system, a QTE will commence if you are in a susceptible position for a devastating zombie bite.
There are a number of hostile individuals running amok who challenge your authority in an attempt to dominate a city blighted by the infestation. These villainous crooks cannot be reasoned with and only understand heinous acts of violence. The first confrontation involves a vociferous motorcycle gang who hurls explosives at you. These events culminate in boss battles which are frankly a chore to complete. Most of the time, you have to engage psychopaths whose paranoia impairs their judgement as they lash out at you. During one escapade, you mistake a female wrestler called Jerry for a man who becomes incensed and vows to defeat you in the ring. While this particular setting did amuse me, the actual gameplay is fairly weak and detracts from the focus on zombie mutilation.
The main story can be completed via a single player perspective or the matchmaking system attempts to hook you up with users of a similar style. For example, you can search for players who love to collect every hidden collectable and work together in a harmonious manner. However, you might want to completely disregard these items and simply cause carnage via the Hardcore flag. Obviously, the press access build was quite lonely online so I couldn’t test out this feature.
In addition to the story option, there is a Nightmare mode and this disables manual saves and regular checkpoints so your progress can only be recorded by visiting bathrooms or porta-potties. Also, the experience unbelievably tense as there is a 3 day time limit and time accelerates 4 times faster than the standard mode. Enemies can withstand a greater degree of damage and any contact results with a suddenly, ghastly demise. This keeps the adrenalin pumping as you are constantly reminded of the time restrictions and must act swiftly to survive. This is more of a purist’s mode and offers a significant challenge for Dead Rising veterans.
To coincide with the main story, there are side-missions aimed at assisting stranded members of the public in distress. Basic tasks require you to eliminate a horde of zombies encompassing an area in a bid to free trapped civilizations. Successfully doing so will grant you their support as they rally alongside you in future entanglements. Other citizens have more unusual requests and generally seek items such as chainsaws or spray paint. Fetch quests are usually laborious but the charming cutscenes and interesting subject matter add a sense of character to these challenges. However, I would advise you that only do these in moderation as some consumers may be unforgiving and deem them as frightfully repetitive.
There is an upgrade tree which revolves around Prestige Points (PP). Every action you take from completing story missions, to defeating a specific number of zombies earns some much needed experience. Once you reach a certain number, your level will be upgraded and you can select from a wide array of improved skills including additional health and heightened agility. Additionally, you can hone your entire moveset and perform more dangerous attacks. Maxing out your character in any of these fields will take a substantial amount of time and this adds to the game’s longevity.
Hidden throughout the city are 101 weapon blueprints, 10 vehicle blueprints, 10 books, 70 Limited Edition Frank West Statues. 30 tragic ending corpses and 30 ZDC speakers. The blueprints are a basic crafting system allowing you to forge deadly weapons and rugged vehicles. Finding these collectables increases your PP count which are eventually exchanged for upgrades. This is particularly useful if you are struggling and need to expand your health to have a better shot during troublesome sections. The tragic ending events are humorous as you witness the untimely death of citizens who sucuumed to the zombie infestation in a horrible way. Collectables are either hit or miss for most people, but I did enjoy the exploration in looking for quirky items.
Now we move onto the big question; How does the PC version perform considering the Xbone release was marred by bugs and framedrops? By default, the game is locked to 30fps but fear not as an uncapped framerate is possible via external modifications. According to our contacts via Capcom Vancouver –
“Note that the game is capped at 30FPS but if you would like to mess with that, create a “user.ini” file which contains a single line: “gmpcr_unlock_frame_rate = True” (no quotes) and place it in the same folder as deadrising3.exe before running the game.”
It’s important to reiterate this as the message has been confusing. Using the .ini custom fix isn’t officially supported and may cause graphical issues or even gameplay problems. I tested this alteration at length to ensure players are aware of the optimization and fluidity prior to purchasing. Even though this workaround is available, hard locking a game to 30 fps on PC is completely unacceptable and creates a rift between the consumer and publisher. I was overjoyed to see that the .ini modification works brilliantly and didn’t encounter any graphical glitches or artifacting. The only minor issue is the sudden frame drops within cutscenes which often go from 48 to 23 and can be extremely jarring. Annoyingly, this only occurs when the .ini mod is enabled.
In terms of performance, using a 4770K @ 4.5Ghz and Sapphire R9 290 on maximum settings at 2560×1440 attained a minimum framerate of 41, max of 73 and average of 57. Given that this is a press build, I would expect upcoming driver revisions to improve the minimum and average figures. Considering this “fix” works perfectly, I am hopeful that it will be integrated into the options menu for less tech-savvy customers.
The options menu contains a host of enhanced PC features including Ambient Occlusion, Depth of Field, AF (up to x16), Subsurface Scattering, Texture Quality and many more to boot. The first thing to note is a strange setting entitled, “LOD” which stands for level of detail. However, I couldn’t see a difference in the graphical quality when scrolling through this meter. Strangely enough, there is a option to lock the textures at 720p, 900p or use your monitor’s native resolution. When I automatically set the game to high (max settings), it defaulted to 720p mode and looked awful. Dead Rising 3 does support native 1440p textures and there is a notable difference in quality between 1920×1080 and 2560×1440. As such, this game does implement high resolution textures.
There is a lack of AA on offer though as you can only select FXAA, SMAA or SMAA T2X. While these might be enough for most users, it would have been preferable to incorporate MLAA or TXAA. Despite this, I was able to force Supersampling through the Catalyst Control Panel without any problems.One would assume that Nvidia users can employ a similar tactic but I can’t comment on this particular aspect as I don’t have an Nvidia GPU at hand. A windowed mode isn’t available in the menu but can be initialized by pressing ALT+Enter. I would also like to point out that all the cutscenes are skippable via the space bar or B button.
From a technical standpoint, Dead Rising 3 is an attractive game set on a stellar scale but the actual definition is far from groundbreaking. This is probably due to the brown hue which gives the game a murky feel and you get a sense that the textures lack sharpness. I would theorize that this was originally intended as an Xbox 360 release and upscaled during the development process. On a more positive note, the sound assets are fantastic through a surround headset as the zombie hordes encompass your character and their voices reverberate around the city.
Let’s move onto the controls and how the game operates with a traditional keyboard and mouse setup. Every key is fully rebindable and there are no bizarre choices in the standard layout. Also, I didn’t detect any mouse acceleration or unwanted lag. Despite this, most of your time will be spent constantly clicking on zombies so I would personally use a controller instead. Button bashing is far easier and more natural than mashing on a mouse, especially if you have a rather expensive model.
Dead Rising 3 on PC launches with all the downloadable content from the Xbone version including The Untold Stories of Los Perdidos. There are 4 distinct episodes which focus on the actions of contrasting groups and their role within the zombie outbreak. During episode 1, you step into special operations officer, Adam Kane’s shoes and witness the difficult decisions he had to take in order to protect the US and do his duty. Episode 3 takes a more sinister approach and revolves around Hunter Thibodeaux, captain of the biker gang, The Kings of Chaos. Hunter is furious that he was framed for a crime he didn’t commit by Spider and seeks vengeance against this wrongdoing. While these inclusions are quite brief, they do give an insight and wider picture of the city’s situation and how different people had their own priorities.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
This title is far and away worth your $49.99. Initially, I was cautious about the new, realistic art style but it works superbly and doesn’t detract from the game’s humorous nature. Dead Rising 3 is an exquisite zombie game featuring oodles of weapon variety and enough charm to keep you entertained for some time. The only quibble I have is with the default 30FPS lock which can be disabled using the steps above.