Friday, April 25, 2014

Dead Rising 3

[Dead Rising 3, Capcom Vancouver, Microsoft Studios, 2013]

low expectations

Let me start out by saying that I wasn't really hoping for a lot from this title. I own the first Dead Rising for the Xbox 360 but I didn't make it very far into the game. The control scheme was horrendous and I never really got involved in the story. I played a few hours of it and put it away, never to be picked up again. It got decent reviews and I usually enjoy a good zombie game/show/movie, but for some reason the first Dead Rising didn't grab me. I never picked up the sequel. Due to those facts, I didn't expect a lot from the third entry in this trilogy. I'll be honest with you, I only picked it up because of the somewhat depressing dearth of games for the Xbox One and my having beaten everything else out there that's even half worth playing. 

Knowing that, you can imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a really creative, well-honed, bloody good time (pun fully intended). The story is well-crafted. The control scheme is fairly deep, yet quickly graspable. The graphics are quite nice. The protagonist is likable. The open-world is large and fun to explore. In short, Dead Rising 3 is a really decent game, much to my surprise. 

why does this keep happening?

The events of Dead Rising 3 detail the third major outbreak of zombie-itis. They take place ten years after Dead Rising 2 in a fictional city called Los Perdidos, California. This is the third outbreak of its kind. A small group of uninfected including the protagonist, mechanic Nick Ramos, his boss Rhonda, and a runaway named Annie is holed up inside a diner in the city. They see a news report that the city will be the recipient of a nuclear bomb in six days and decide it would probably be best to get out before that particular package arrives. The rest of the game follows Nick and his friends' attempts to escape the bomb and the explanation of the genesis of the outbreak, which, as it turns out, is a huge government plot. Don't worry, I won't ruin the twists and turns for you if you intend to give this game a run. Suffice it to say that the plot is quite interesting and Nick plays an integral part in both the creation and solution of the outbreak problem. 

man, that's a LOT of zombies!

The gameplay in DR3 is very impressive. Nick, being a mechanic, is able to craft various useful tools from the plethora of items found around the open world map. Not only can he create extremely useful and often funny vehicles, but he can generate some 300-plus weapons as well as various food recipes that have varying types of effect on him and his companions. The crafting is so deep that I didn't even cover half of the options in my first playthrough of the game. 

Some examples of this piece of the game are the RollerHawg, which is the welding of a motorcycle to a steamroller. It has the speed of a bike with the destructive power of a two-ton crushing machine. A 2x4 and a lead pipe created a particularly effective bashing weapon called Heavy Metal. A sledgehammer and a car battery created a beast of a beatdown melee machine titled the Electric Crusher. Among the most hilarious bits of crafting is the addition of a leaf blower and a massager to make a gun that shoots dildos. 

The crafting options also extend to food. As you are attacked by zombies, either hit, tackled, or as they try to bite you, your health meter will deteriorate. Nick has to eat in order to replenish his health. It isn't particularly hard to find food lying around the world, but culinary items could be added to one another to give specific boosts to Nick's abilities. For example, adding candy to coffee creates Quick Step, allowing Nick to sprint without getting winded for a short period of time. Three cups of coffee and a bottle of vodka makes Energizer, which causes Nick to become invulnerable to attacks. A ham and three bottles of liquor creates Spitfire, which, as the name suggests, allows him to breathe fire on the undead in his immediate vicinity. 

what are you wearing?!

Probably the most humorous part of Dead Rising 3 is the costumes. As you can see above, one of the many options was reminiscent of the Gimp from Pulp Fiction. In an adult store, you can find a full S&M suit along with go-go boots. Although Nick will complain every time you force him to put on the getup, I loved playing in the leather-zippered outfit because I just couldn't stop laughing at the poor guy. Among the other clothing options are a disco suit straight out of Saturday Night Fever, a tuxedo, a child's superhero outfit, a woman's Star Trek uniform, and even a Blanka mask from Street Fighter II. 

that about sums it up

I could go on for hours about the story, but I'd hate to spoil any of it for those of you who are going to play the game. It isn't Shakespeare, but it has enough twists, turns, and jokes to make it a very enjoyable experience. For the completionist gamer, there are tons of collectables. Not only are there weapon blueprints that are necessary if you want to make some of the more than three hundred combo weapons, but there are books that give Nick advantages in some areas such as more XP, increased damage, or weapon durability. There are also bodies of the dead that tell little stories about their sad endings. It has statues that serve little purpose beyond the joy of collecting. Finally, there are side quests that allow Nick to help other survivors along the way. 

how it ends...

Kidding. I'm only kidding. I won't tell you how it ends. What I will tell you is that there are multiple endings to the game depending on decisions you make throughout. I wouldn't have learned about this nice little addition had I not failed in my first attempt at finishing the game. However, it was very nice to see that Capcom allows for more than one outcome. Although I still love Titanfall, one of its major drawbacks, in my humble opinion, is the fact that the game's result is the same whether you succeed or fail in your missions. Dead Rising 3 isn't so uncreative. 

My final judgment of Dead Rising 3 is, as stated before, that it exceeded my expectations by a wide margin. I picked up the game to pass some time, not even sure that I would finish it due to my experience with the first Dead Rising. What I got was a thoroughly enjoyable, well-crafted game that sucked me in and surpassed my hopes in all areas. While I doubt it will win any game-of-the-year awards, you can be assured that this one isn't a dead end like its predecessor. If you're a fan of the Walking Dead or Left 4 Dead 1 or 2, give this game a try. I don't think you'll be sorry that you did. It is much more fun than the former and much deeper than the latter. If wiping out zombies is your thing, then this is your game. I killed over 27,000 of the undead in my first playthrough and I hope to top that number in my second, which begins tonight. Happy hunting!

Objective Score: 7/10

Bonuses: +1 for the unexpected and hilarious sense of humor in the game.

Penalties: I honestly can't think of any. While it isn't the best game ever, it does what it's supposed to very well. Kudos, Capcom!

Nerd Coefficient: 8/10. Well worth your time and attention.