There are more zombie video games than there are zombies in a zombie video game. Unlike most zombie games, Dead Rising 3 doesn't take itself seriously as it utilizes a B movie plot and atmosphere which in turn make the game a lot of fun.
The game takes place 10 years after Dead Rising 2 and centers around protagonist Nick Ramos (who is new to the Dead Rising series) and some of his friends who are all trying to survive in the fictional city of Los Perdidos. Most characters you meet are walking stereotypes with the main character being more of a blank slate. The story progresses through many ridiculous and some typical plot points and has multiple endings depending on a couple of actions the player takes near the end of the game. The graphics are fantastic. Zombies look detailed from up close and far away and hordes of them look amazing. As you slaughter them you'll see realistic blood and gore everywhere which is quite satisfying if you're the type that likes killing zombies. The city looks great as well with its share of dilapidated buildings and abandoned vehicles. The music always fits the atmosphere perfectly and never stands out thus adding a layer of depth to the presentation. Sound effects as you drive vehicles, fire guns, or slash zombies up are top-notch and the voice acting is well done, too.
Players have many methods of killing zombies and traversing the city. Weapons include guns, melee weapons, explosives, and many absurdities like lawn mowers, boxing gloves, and toy bears with guns. Players can also drive over zombies using many different vehicles. Weapons and vehicles can be combined to create new ones. Some examples of combinations would be a leaf blower and some cooking oil to make a flamethrower or a motorcycle and a steamroller to make one awesome zombie-flattening hog. Weapons will break over time and vehicles will explode if they become too damaged so using weapons and vehicles effectively becomes a beneficial skill. You will also find different pieces of attire you can wear. There's even an unlockable Mega Man X costume!
Dead Rising 3's controls are pretty tight. Attacking with melee weapons feels responsive while aiming and shooting is accurate. Driving vehicles through the city and over zombies is very satisfying. There are a bit too many controls to memorize, however. Remembering how to run after driving for long periods or that tapping Y does a strong attack while holding it does a ground attack can be tricky. There are too many things to do in the game to make the controls easy to remember, but I can't help but feel they could have made them a bit more intuitive.
There are some RPG elements added to Dead Rising 3 like being able to level up and spend points on attributes that will help the player by increasing their maximum life, allowing them to combine weapons out of more materials, etc. Experience points are earned in multiple ways such as killing zombies or satisfying in-game grinding trials. Because of this, it feels rewarding to simply wander around doing as you please. You can also collect books that give the player a boost such as increasing experience gained or making weapons last longer.
Dead Rising 3 is a lot more accessible than previous Dead Rising installments. Players can combine weapons on the fly as they find blueprints and the necessary materials. If you use a weapon at least once it can be accessed at a locker in any of the game's safe houses. This adds a collectable component to the game that is rewarding and a lot of fun. There are many collectables to find and side quests to take on like rescuing survivors or completing skill challenges. There are optional bosses called psychopaths which are especially fun to battle since each of them is an embodiment of one of the seven deadly sins. Everything you accomplish and collect in the game permanently unlocks. Progression feels constant and rarely do you feel a sense of loss when you happen to die.
Players will find themselves having to travel long distances quite frequently to progress in the story. Although this is fun at first, when you are forced to travel between opposite corners of the map enough times in a row, it can feel like a chore. The on-screen map information is minimal as it only shows you a small map with a directional arrow and a floating icon on the main screen showing where your destination is in the game world. This forces players to check the larger map in the pause screen which in itself becomes a frequent chore as the wreckage within Los Perdidos inherently makes many areas difficult to navigate. You'll find yourself struggling to find overpasses and back alleys to simply get from point A to point B until you eventually memorise how to navigate the city which takes quite a lot of experience. As you travel long distances, zombies are everywhere and dealing with them adds to the frustration as your vehicles and weapons eventually break. This can be a fun challenge but often feels tiresome.
There are a few optional elements to experiment with in Dead Rising 3, the coolest of which is online co-op. The host player will play as Nick while the player who joins the host will play as Dick. The players will be in the host's game world while any progress made will benefit both players. Co-op is integrated seamlessly and adds a sense of comradery to the experience. Kinect is also incorporated with features including being able to taunt bosses or lure zombies towards you. Most Kinect commands can be done without Kinect and the ones that can't are unnecessary. If you like shouting commands at games then this feature is a nice add-on but if you prefer not to then you're not really missing out on anything. Finally, players can use the Xbox SmartGlass companion application that unlocks extra missions, allows the player to call in an artillery strike, or view the game map. Viewing the map using SmartGlass makes using the map a lot less frustrating since you no longer have to pause the game to get an idea of how to navigate obstacles.
Besides some minor annoyances, Dead Rising 3 makes killing zombies a ton of fun with great quality and varied gameplay, awesome presentation, and tons of extra features, side quests, and collectables.
- + Killing hordes of zombies is great fun
- + Tons of side quests to do, collectables to find, and weapons and vehicles to combine
- + Great graphics and overall presentation
- - Long distance travel often feels like a chore
- - Navigating the city can get annoying at times
- - Controls aren't as intuitive as they could be