Dead Rising 3

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Sept. 5, 2014

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PC Review - 'Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition'

by Brian Dumlao on Oct. 30, 2014 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Set 10 years after Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 3 takes place in Los Perdidos amid a zombie outbreak that's about to decimate mankind.

When you look at the launch of the Xbox One in 2013, Dead Rising 3 was one of the exclusives that some believed made a case for getting the system. The return of silly zombie killing was amplified by the power to put even more of the undead on-screen at once, and the open world made it feel refreshing. The main game was strong, but the DLC that followed was boring, and it wasn't until the final piece of DLC that the game sprang back to life. One of the surprises of this past summer was that this once-exclusive game went to the PC under Capcom's publishing arm. Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition should have been an opportunity to expand the reach of the game and give it lots of technical improvements given the near-limitless potential of the PC platform. What PC players get instead is a solid zombie-killing experience that's walled off by a myriad of technical issues.

Ten years have passed since the last zombie incident in Fortune City. The government has mandated that all citizens get GPS Zombrex chips installed to prevent another undead disaster from occurring. Not all of the citizens are chipped, leading to them being called out as "illegals" who depend on Zombrex shots instead of the chip's automatic doses. An outbreak occurs in the city of Los Perdidos. As the mechanic Nick, you've been trying to find a way out of the city for three days. You escape with your band of survivors to a garage, where you discover that the city is being bombed in six days to prevent stop the outbreak from spreading further. With no time to lose, you must try to make it out before everything blows up.

Compared to the previous games, the story is more predictable. The plot's twists can be seen by anyone who's paying attention. Nick fits the role of protagonist — but only because he doesn't have any distinctive characteristics. Hey may be a mechanic, but that isn't as interesting as being a war photographer or stuntman. This isn't really a game that lives and dies on the plot, and what's here is fine. Don't expect anything grand from the tale.

The core mechanics of the game are still the same as they were when the first entry hit the Xbox 360. The game is essentially a limited sandbox where you dispatch zombies in almost any manner you want. You can rely on your fists or use a car to run them over, but that feels mundane here. The same goes for blades and guns to kill the undead, though the use of firearms is much more enjoyable due to the improved aiming system. The cornerstone of the Dead Rising experience is the different things you can use to kill zombies. Burn them with Molotov cocktails, smash them with signal lights, pelt them with diamonds, or push them away with a shopping cart while wearing an outrageous outfit. It definitely adds some fun and levity to the proceedings. The new addition to combat is the availability of a power move after achieving a high killing streak. The execution of said move gives you a more cinematic kill with the weapon at hand, and you also receive a large XP bonus.

Since DR2, there have been a number of tweaks made to the gameplay. Crafting weapons returns, but the restrictions have been loosened up since you can combine weapons anywhere instead of relying on workbenches. You can also combine two vehicles to create new forms of vehicular manslaughter. Both weapons and vehicles can be stored in safe houses and garages, respectively, so you can call them up at any time instead of hoping to find something in the field. This convenience is balanced out by a meter that governs how many items you can use at a time, so you still need to pay attention to what's in the field. Convenience also comes into play with the saving system, which lets you save anywhere instead of at designated save points (bathrooms stalls), though the option is there if you want to activate the game's Nightmare mode difficulty. Then there's the leveling system, which lets you deposit points toward several different attributes, including increased health, faster crafting, and a bigger posse.

One thing that hasn't changed is the weirdos you meet. The psychopaths and bosses are an interesting bunch, from crazy bikers to deranged monks. They're tough, and they all come with an ending cut scene that makes them a little more interesting than before. To a lesser degree, this can also be applied to the characters in the side missions. An illegal lookout, an old woman nostalgic for a city tour, and a sanitation worker who stumbled into the ZDC command center are just a few examples of the quirky personalities who like to send you on fetch quests and escort missions.

All of these new and old mechanics are brought together in a large city that's split up between four major districts, each with a vibe and identity of its own. Each has easily identifiable terrain markers, and each is easily connected via freeway or surface streets. The size of the city might not be that impressive compared to other open-world games, but its dense population is impressive. The main and side missions aren't the only things you can do in the world. There are plenty of collectibles, including weapons for your hideout stash, costumes and statues for extra XP. Survivors litter the city, and they're much easier to save since all you have to do is kill all of the surrounding zombies without escorting them back to your base. There are ZDC PA speakers to destroy and extra blueprints to expand your arsenal. Of course, there's the act of killing zombies that'll keep you busy with a day-and-night cycle that modifies the aggressiveness of the enemies. New to the game is the ability to make the main storyline a co-op experience.

Included in the PC version of the game are the four DLC packs that make up the Untold Stories of Los Perdidos. Each episode focuses on one character who was around during the outbreak and helped mold some of the events that happened in the main story. They aren't essential to enjoying the main game, and by themselves, the episodes are pretty basic in terms of plot and pacing. You have the advantage of taking your main game character stats and discovered weapons to these individual episodes and vice versa, so there is an advantage to those who want to slog through the DLC to better prepare for the main quest. The DLC could easily be skipped as paid extras on the Xbox One version, but their inclusion in the PC iteration makes them feel like a nice bonus. The only thing that's missing is the Super Ultra Dead Rising 3' Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha DLC that's still exclusive to the Xbox One platform, and there's no word on whether that will hit the PC.

There are some missteps in the gameplay that detract from the inherent fun of zombie killing. The size of the maps and the multitude of zombies might be a great mechanic, but it can be daunting when a mission requires you to go all the way from one side of the map to the other. What would normally be a quick trip becomes a slog due to the undead masses in your way, and while using vehicles makes it a bit easier, traveling on foot through places where no car can go is painfully slow. It doesn't help that the markers for the important places you need to hit are obscured; they appear to be much lighter than their console counterparts, subsequently making it harder to see where you're going.

The biggest issue with the game doesn't come from the gameplay but from the stability. When the title first launched, it was plagued with crashes that would occur at random spots and at random times. During the main story, crashes numbered in the mid to high double digits, according to personal experience and reports from other reviews and other players. The crashes continued if you played the extra content. The worst part is that there doesn't seem to be a culprit for this, so saving the game every few steps became almost second nature if you didn't want to lose lots of progress. A few patches have been released since then, and things are better, but there just isn't a sense that this is now a stable product.

From a sound perspective, Dead Rising 3 is great on all fronts. The music has a very creepy vibe that is reminiscent of shows like "The Walking Dead" since there's a sense of foreboding and dread at every turn. The effects hit all the right marks, from the crunch of metal to the sound of flesh being ripped apart by swords and knives — or squashed by sledgehammers. The voice work is also rather good from both allies and enemies. Cheesy in some parts, deadly serious in others, it never leans too far in any direction, so characters are believable, even the over-the-top ones.

Meanwhile, the graphics are an exact replica of what was seen in the Xbox One version. Character models are well detailed, with most of the animations looking quite fluid. The city is in the midst of urban decay with the smoke, fire and grime, but it still sports some color and beauty. The sight of all of the zombies on-screen at the same time still looks great, even if they seem uniform in such large batches. Despite this, there are still areas of the game that sport some low-resolution textures that are very noticeable this time around due to the good lighting system. Even though it doesn't happen that often thanks to the hardware, you'll still see instances of objects popping into view, and while they aren't as terrible as a barrier suddenly popping in front of you and wrecking your vehicle, they're still noticeable, especially on objects that are higher off the ground.

When news of the game's arrival on PC hit, many wondered if the removal of fixed console hardware meant it would have some effect on the graphics. The answer is that it does, but the work required to get there is cumbersome. By default, the game runs at 720p with a locked frame rate of 30fps, the same stats as the Xbox One version. You can increase the resolution based on your monitor, but all that does is upscale the 720p signal to match the set monitor resolution. You have to go to an advanced menu away from the Video option to get a true resolution boost — not standard procedure in PC games nowadays. Getting a true 1080p resolution on a monitor displaying 1920x1080 makes the game look better, but it does so at the expense of the frame rate. It holds together at 30fps during gameplay, but it quickly goes to the mid-teens during a cut scene. It's startling when you see that there are fewer elements during these scenes when compared to almost any other time during gameplay.

There is a way to unlock the frame rate with a simple .ini file, and when asked why the frame rate was locked in the first place, Capcom stated that the lock was there to prevent unwanted issues. Playing the game at close to 60 frames proved to be no different than playing at 30 frames as far as the introduction of new issues was concerned. It makes for a strange situation as far as having players create a file to unlock some platform benefits, but it also shows that, along with the crashes, the game wasn't optimized correctly for the PC.

If you rate Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition based on the gameplay alone, you'd find it to be a worthy entry in the franchise. It may not have the strongest story in the series, but the gameplay is enjoyable due to the number of weapons and crafting options at your disposal. The large world feels less confining than the mall, and the large swaths of the undead appeal to the sort of person who enjoys games like Dynasty Warriors to a degree, especially now that almost all of the expansions are part of the package. However, the lack of any optimization and the lack user-friendly methods to tweak the graphics is disheartening. The frequency of crashes, while improved since the initial launch, makes it very difficult to play without being frustrated at what could have been. It is still a good game, but you'd be better served by waiting to see if future patches address the stability.

Score: 6.5/10

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