Preview: Dead Rising 3, or how I killed a thousand zombies in minutes
The first two Dead Rising games did moderately big business for Capcom, and why wouldn't they? Giving you the opportunity to kill thousands of zombies in rather creative ways, while dressing up in weird outfits and saving survivors made for a fun gaming experience. The second game did go a bit overboard on its looniness (a moose head?!), but that was kind of the point.
Now, as the original Dead Rising did for Xbox 360, Dead Rising 3 is ready to usher in a whole new level of undead slaying for the Xbox One. Microsoft recently invited us to a behind-closed-doors preview for the game, featuring a slightly better build than the one they showed at E3 last month. That's not to say things have entirely improved, but it's a baby step in the right direction.
The game takes place ten years after the original Rising, with a mechanic by the name of Nick Ramos finding himself in the midst of a zombie plague. In an effort to stay alive, Nick is picking up any weapons that he can get his hands on, ranging from traffic cones to assault rifles, as he fights through zombies and tries to get to the next safe point. That's easier said than done in most cases, but, hey, you always have a fighting chance.
Like Dead Rising 2 before it, part three gives you prime opportunity to build key weapons on the spot, provided you have all the right tools for the job. For instance, you can create a badass sledgehammer/cement saw combination, which you can twirl around like a homicidal cheerleader with and lay waste to everything around you. But first, you need all the parts – in this case, the cement saw and sledgehammer. Once you have them, simply go into a sub-menu, strap it down and, in seconds, you're a murder machine. Same goes for the Boomshot, a remarkable grenade-shooting shotgun that really sends dead people flying.
Best of all, even if you lose these weapons over the course of the game (or use them beyond excess – always a possibility), you'll be able to access them again in a storage locker, so you can get right back to killing.
The game also gives you the opportunity to drive in stolen vehicles, and these are quite useful when you're surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of zombies. You can mow them down and pile up the body count. However, you'll want to keep an eye out for stragglers, as they can hang on the roof or side of your car and try to pull you out of it, unless you're quick enough to shove them off. It's a matter of pushing a button and moving on.
Since Capcom's Dead Rising series has always leaned toward the ridiculous, part three has plenty of absurdity to go around. You can change outfits as well, ranging from a lingerie/dress combination (sexy!) to a shark costume. And you haven't lived until you've dropped Boomshots on zombies in this outfit, while also surviving an incoming air raid, which you can order once you accumulate enough space in the town. It's a bit unbelievable, but, for the right player, a lot of fun.
The game also throws tough zombies at you on occasion. You'll deal with mostly mindless ones that lurch at you easily, but sometimes you get armed ones, like firefighters that literally have an axe to grind with you. They can be taken down, but you'll need to adjust your tactics to avoid succumbing to their attacks.
While the gameplay seems to be coming along really well, Capcom still has some work to do with the graphics. The environments are fantastic, and there's no shortage of carnage or impressive lighting effects. However, speed is a consistent problem in the game, as the frame rate chugs quite often – even if there aren't too many zombies appearing on the screen. Capcom could use some cleaning up in this department if it doesn't want to make the next-gen machine look like it can't handle the likes of Dead Rising 3.
There is still promise here, though, and if the developers can get on the ball with the visual performance, we'll have a zombie killer worth being proud of. Look for Dead Rising 3 later this year, in time for the Xbox One's launch period.