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Nick and Dick’s Excellent Adventure

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    Dead Rising 3

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    Nick and Dick’s Excellent Adventure

    The original Dead Rising game is the reason that I got an Xbox 360 over a PS3 back in 2006. Dead Rising 3 is the reason that I ultimately decided to purchase an Xbox One at launch. Seeing the game at E3 had me extremely excited, and after having thoroughly played through the game, Dead Rising 3 definitely did not disappoint, even if the main series still has yet to reach its true potential and solidify the Dead Rising games as must-have every year.

    One of the most important exclusives for Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 is set 10 years after the events of Dead Rising 2. The game stars a new protagonist in the form of Nick Ramos, a mechanic that is able to not only create epic zombie-slaying weaponry but also amazing new combo vehicles. Stuck in Los Perdidos during the latest zombie outbreak, Nick must band together with a group of survivors to unravel the mystery and make it out alive.

    Joining Nick is his friend named Dick, a trucker that has similar skills to Nick. Dick shows up in the cut-scenes sometimes, but he can always be controlled by a second player through Dead Rising 3’s online co-op. Capcom still hasn’t quite nailed down how co-op should work in the franchise just yet, unfortunately. There is still no option for any offline co-op, which is extremely disappointing, and not only that, but there are plot holes when it comes to the second player always controlling Dick. Granted, there are less plot holes than in the previous games, where the second player simply controlled a clone of the main character, but plot holes nonetheless.

    Does the story really matter in Dead Rising, though? Well, yes and no. The story is satire, and it greatly succeeds at this. The franchise has consistently provided sharp satire on various aspects of American culture, and this has often been the source of a lot of enjoyment for myself when playing these games. The first Dead Rising satirized our obesity epidemic; the second Dead Rising game satirized our obsession with celebrities and reality television; and the third Dead Rising game satirizes our government, specifically the current privacy issue. The issue being that we have none and our government is constantly infringing on our basic rights.

    Heavy stuff for a game that is about finding creative ways to kill zombies. If you take away the subtext, the story is still a lot of fun simply because of how ridiculous and corny it is. The plot is filled with characters that are memorable, well acted, and they all have extremely hilarious things to say in true Capcom survival-horror fashion. There’s also plenty of fan service for longtime Dead Rising fans and a few twists and turns that will floor people that have been playing the games since the beginning.

    Dead Rising 3 offers players a chance to explore Los Perdidos. This city is much larger than the mall from the first game or the Vegas Strip lookalike from the second game. Los Perdidos is filled with various storefronts, buildings, and houses that can be fully explored. This is where the game feels next-gen. There are no load times separating players from exploring a house and looting it for supplies. All the buildings look different, and while the world map is not all that huge, it’s still a lot of fun to explore and discover its secrets.

    Zombies fill the streets in Los Perdidos. The zombies look fantastic and are another way that you can actually tell the game is an eighth gen title. The detail on the zombies is crazy, and I never saw any two zombies that looked alike in one mob. Their bodies can be deconstructed in a realistic manner, with limbs being chopped off and bones being broken. Zombies can have their legs chopped off and yet still crawl after survivors. It’s awesome.

    The game brings back up the upgrade system from the older games, except expands on it and makes it way better. Players choose what aspect of Nick to upgrade when they level up instead of the game automatically leveling up for them. This allows players to proceed through the game and adjust Nick to their own style of play. They can purchase upgrades that can cover up some of their weaknesses.

    Huge improvements have been made to weapons and vehicles. Safe zones are dotted around the city and inside these safe zones is a weapon locker that contains every single weapon that you’ve picked up throughout the entire game. Combo weapons can also be pulled out of the locker as well. This eliminates the endless backtracking that plagued the previous installments, and it is a great idea that keeps the game going at a brisk, fun pace. It also makes just messing around and killing a bunch of zombies a lot more fun than it ever was before.

    Vehicles can now be combined into new and very impressive combo vehicles. The combo vehicles are always very imaginative and they are all useful in their own way. My favorite vehicle was the first one that is unlocked, the Turret Rig. Not only does it provide a turret on the top that can kill dozens of zombies with a single blast, but it also has blades that can extend from its sides whenever zombies are trying to climb on top of it. Like the weapons, these vehicles and combo vehicles can be spawned at any time after having driven them at least once from garages. It makes the game way easier, but it also streamlines the experience and makes Dead Rising 3 a lot more enjoyable of an experience than it would have been otherwise.

    When driving regular vehicles, zombies have a tendency to try to pull Nick out of the vehicle. This results in a quick QTE that will either be a button or motion controls. The Xbox One controllers do not have built-in motion control functionality, but by using Kinect, the system can see when you swing the controller, and that in turn completes the QTE. These motion controls work fine in the game, and Kinect is also used in other cool ways, even if this functionality is very poorly explained in the game.

    Kinect voice commands can be used to order around survivors, which is something that isn’t even mentioned at all from what I saw. I just accidentally stumbled upon this feature. Unfortunately, the partner AI is not very smart, so ordering them around is pretty pointless most of the time. Kinect voice commands are also used to taunt the psychopaths (the game’s bosses) and lure zombies to the sound of your voice. Kinect does not work perfectly, but it works better than it did on Xbox 360.

    Speaking of survivors, they can also be brought out of the safe zones to create a posse of sorts for you to lead around the city. There is an upgrade that you can get Nick that makes it so these rescued survivors can’t even die, which is really helpful. While they aren’t the brightest all the time, the survivors undoubtedly provide an edge when it comes to fighting zombies and the human enemies.

    The side missions that you have to complete to recruit these survivors are supremely uninspired and boring. The story missions are almost all a lot of fun and really imaginative, but the side missions are just lame. They mostly involve gathering X amount of an item and then delivering that item to the NPC. Past games pretty much just had you find the survivors and then escort them back to the safe house. Dead Rising 3 handles survivors better than previous games, but the side missions need serious refinement and a lot more time should’ve been spent making them actually fun.

    Other survivors that don’t join you can be saved as well. As you drive around Los Perdidos, you will come across instances of survivors being attacked by zombies. You have the option of saving them for extra PP (XP in the game) which can help you level up faster. Conversely, you can also ignore these events if you’d like.

    Fighting human enemies is one of the worst parts of the game. This has consistently been a problem I’ve had with the series since the beginning. The humans just aren’t as fun to fight as the zombies. Special zombies are also introduced later, which is something else that bothers me. I think that the zombies by themselves are what make the game fun. These other enemies are just minor annoyances and distract from the core gameplay experience.

    That being said, psychopaths are still fun to fight and they are cleverer than they were in previous games. There are many different ways to tackle psychopath battles, and they each have their own strategies in order to defeat them, though they are way too easy to defeat.

    Time limits have always been a big part of the franchise. Another major element is dying and having to start back at the beginning or at your last save point. Dead Rising 3’s main gameplay mode still has a time limit, but the time limit is extremely forgiving. I had days left over when I beat the game. There is a Nightmare Mode, that is basically just regular Dead Rising, but it is still way easier than the previous games.

    Dead Rising 3 is just way too easy in general. In some cases, the easier the game is makes the game better, like with the ability to just grab weapons and vehicles from your bases instead of having to hunt down the parts. The improvements to survivors is also for the better, even though it makes the games easier. However, psychopaths are way too easy to defeat. There’s never a sense of urgency with the game because of the lack of any really intimidating time limits, and throughout my entire time with Dead Rising 3, I only died once. This is extremely disappointing as it makes Dead Rising 3 lose a lot of the elements that made it feel like an open world survival horror game.

    Visually, the game is not very impressive. There are things about it that certainly wouldn’t have been possible on Xbox 360, but the general look of the game is fairly ugly. The character models look worse than a lot of Xbox 360 games, and the details in the environment also could have been done last generation. I’ve already talked about the aspects of the game that make it definitely next-gen, but there are also things about it that make it feel last gen, especially the weak AI for both enemies and partners.

    Still, Dead Rising 3 was SO close at being the first game in the main series that was a must-play title for everyone, not just fans of the genre. Where it really missteps is with the design of Los Perdidos. Los Perdidos is separated into four distinct districts. Each district has its own style, buildings, and everything, but traveling between these four districts is a pain in the ass. Setting a marker doesn’t actually lead you to that area like in other open world games such as Grand Theft Auto, which requires you to ultimately have to check the map every few seconds to figure out how to get where you want to go. This is because Los Perdidos is filled with dead ends, and with a time limit that hardly matters in either game mode, these dead ends are completely pointless other than to provide frustration to the player.

    Speaking of pausing and looking at the map, Kinect actually provides another issue regarding this. One time when I was playing the game, I was trying to look at the map and upgrade Nick. However, my washing machine was going and every time it made this "CLICK" sound, the Kinect thought I said whatever voice command was necessary to back out of the menu. Menu navigation with voice commands could be easily turned off, but there is there even a point to using voice commands for such miniscule input? The controller is infinitely superior for menu navigation than voice or motion controls, so why developers feel the need to shoehorn in something that isn’t going to be used by anyone anyway is beyond me.

    Overall, Dead Rising 3 improves upon the other games in many ways, but it also disappoints in a few key areas that holds it back from being something truly special. It is still a great game that can provide countless hours of open world zombie killing fun. The online co-op is great, even though I really want there to be OFFLINE co-op as well for a the ultimate zombie experience. Dead Rising 3 will please fans of the series and newcomers alike. It is one of the best eighth generation exclusives that I’ve played, and it is certainly a good argument for getting an Xbox One this holiday season.

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