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The Apocalypse Isn’t So Bad

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    Dead Rising 3

    Rating: 3.5 – Good

    The Apocalypse Isn’t So Bad

    Over the past few years hordes of zombies have become the focus of countless movies, books and games. With the popularity of franchises like The Walking Dead, zombies have proven that they are here to stay as villains. With big name games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Space, Dead Island and even Call of Duty utilizing zombies as enemies it can be easy to forget that the Dead Rising series were some of the first games to make hacking and slashing through hordes of zombies popular again. For those new to the series a brief history lesson may be in order. Dead Rising tasked players with taking on the role of Frank West, a photojournalist, as he investigated the military quarantine of Willamette, Colorado, the site of the first zombie outbreak. Taking place almost entirely within the Willamette Parkview Mall, Dead Rising allowed gamers to rescue survivors, battle psychopaths and slaughter zombies by the hundreds as Frank pieced together the origins of the outbreak. Dead Rising 2 starts off five years later in a world where zombies have become common place and the only thing keeping infected citizens from turning into mindless zombies it the drug Zombrex, which must be administered daily. Players control Chuck Greene, a former motocross champion, who is forced to resort to compete in Terror is Reality, a zombie-filled extreme sports television show, in order to afford Zombrex for his infected daughter, Katey. When the zombies are let loose from the show’s holding cells into Fortune City, Nevada Chuck is blamed. Players have to fight through thousands of zombies to help save survivors and prove Chuck’s innocence, all while trying to gather enough Zombrex to keep Katey from turning into a zombie.

    Dead Rising 3 picks up in the city of Los Perdidos, California ten years after the events of Dead Rising 2. Zombie outbreaks have become rare with the introduction of mandatory government “chipping”, which implants citizens with a microchip that protects from zombie infection. Despite these precautions an outbreak begins in Los Perdidos and within days tens of thousands are dead and the city is a hotbed of zombies. Desperate to escape before the military firebombs the city, players step into the shoes of Nick Ramos, a local mechanic and Dick, a trucker who only appears outside cutscenes in co-op. Nick, Dick and Nick’s boss, Rhonda travel around the city trying to find some means past the military quarantine of the city while interacting with some of the cities survivors, such as the illegals, a group who refuses to be chipped by the government. If this seems to be a bare-bones plot, you wouldn’t be wrong. The story of Dead Rising 3 seems to take a definite back seat to the zombie slaying action. The game is split into seven chapters with an optional 8th overtime chapter, but most of the chapters consist of either moving from one safe house to another safe house or finding some random item that is required to escape the city. The game has several side quests, but they mostly boil down to the typical fetch and escort quests common to many games. While the plot is nothing special the characters in Dead Rising 3 retain the series trademark ridiculousness. Nick’s transformation from awkward, shy mechanic who is thrust into dangerous situations to awkward, badass Rambo who is determined to get the girl is both hilarious and endearing. The psychopaths, Dead Rising’s version of bosses, are completely over the top representations of the seven deadly sins from the gluttonous woman shoving plates of food in her mouth to the envious nerd who wants to be just like Nick. While the writing may not win any awards, the characters did have me chuckling several times.

    Most people who play Dead Rising 3 aren’t playing for the plot, they are playing for the opportunity to re-kill thousands of zombies and it is here that Dead Rising 3 really delivers. The sheer number of zombies in the game is staggering. By the end of the game, I had racked up over 17,000 kills and that was without trying. It is Dead Rising 3’s combo weapons and new combo vehicles that really allow such widespread carnage. Fans of Dead Rising 2 will remember that game’s combo weapons which allow players to combine items together to create ridiculous weapons of mass zombie destruction, like a football and dynamite or a paddle and a chainsaw. Dead Rising 3 has taken combo weapons to a new level allowing combo weapons to be further combined to create super weapons. This brings the total number of combo weapons above 100. While some of these weapons can be pretty useless, like combining a leaf blower and an *ahem* massager to create a gun that shoots massagers called the Super Massager, some are devastating such as the Fire Reaper, basically a scythe covered in gasoline. On top of the improved combo weapon system, Nick has the abilities to weld together cars to create combo cars such as the Roller Hawg, a motorcycle with a steamroller front that shoots fire. As Los Perdidos is more than four times the size of Fortune City, this vehicles come in handy and can make getting around both quicker and rewarding, as zombie kills in some vehicles can skyrocket providing a large number of PP, the games version of experience points. PP can be gained by completing quests, rescuing survivors, completing mini games and, of course, by slaughtering zombies by the hundreds.

    As Nick levels up he gains skill points which can be put into several trees such as melee, ranged and mechanic. Each skill costs additional points, but provides increasing benefits in the tree such as quicker combos, additional health or additional damage. Nicks level carries over between playthroughs, when using chapter select and even when accessing DLC. This comes in handy when dealing with the games time limit. Like in previous Dead Rising games, Nick must finish his adventure within a certain amount of time, in this case the six days before the military firebombs the city. This proves to be more than enough time to explore the city and complete all quests without much trouble. I completed all quests, rescued all survivors and collected 75% of the collectables and finished the game with more than two days to spare. For those who prefer things to be a bit more frantic Nightmare Mode sets the time limit to three days and limits saving to washrooms like previous games in the series. The ability to chapter select allows players to start again from earlier points if they want to continue finding collectables or complete quests they missed, while keeping their levels, though they lose all story progress from after the chapter start. Once you have leveled up a few times and made a few combo weapons, getting around the city becomes a lot easier as zombies become a wall of PP rather than a danger.

    Which is good because the amount of zombies that Nick faces at a time in Dead Rising 3 is far higher than in previous Dead Rising games. It is not uncommon to face dozens of zombies on screen at once, all with very little noticable slowdown. The game looks good and performs well at almost all times. Combat is quick and brutal. Zombies can be hacked, slashed and dismembered with armless, legless and sometimes even bisected zombies still attacking Nick. The one big hiccup is load times. Loading times in Dead Rising 3 are atrocious. Los Perdidos loads as a whole when you begin play and the only load times after that are when areas change via cutscenes such as entering a new chapter. While this makes the long load times understandable it doesn’t make it any easier to suffer through load times that can be long enough to make a sandwich, grab a drink and visit the washroom. While the game looks good, sound is a bit more hit or miss. Sound effects such as combat sounds and zombie moans are well done with weapon hits sounding meaty and zombies sounding more aggressive as you draw their attention. The music is forgettable with a few bland background tracks interspersed throughout. There are a few harder tracks used during some boss fights that are a little catchier but you likely won’t be humming them to yourself after you’ve stopped playing. Voice acting is also pretty unimpressive, though with most characters being so over the top its hard to tell if that’s because of the writing or the actors. There’s no standout performances though Nick’s voice actor sounds suitably awkward throughout the game which fits the character.

    In the end, Dead Rising 3 does what it sets out to do which is provide players with a huge sandbox city filled with zombies to mash, maim and murder. The story may be throwaway and the sound may be subpar, but Los Perdidos is a city ripe for exploration and Dead Rising 3 gives you the solid gameplay you need to entertain yourself there for hours. If you’re looking for a chance to kill thousands of zombies in hundreds of ridiculous ways then you should wade into Dead Rising 3 with weapons swinging, but if you’re looking for a serious zombie game with an elaborate and well presented plot then you may want to flee from this zombie horde.

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