I'm going to begin by saying that I am pretty bored and uninterested in this whole craze with the zombie genre. I never was very interested in it and still am not. I normally avoid zombie focused games, in fact. When I first played this, I had never played a Dead Rising game previously. This game certainly didn't help change my mind about zombies, but I sure did have a whole lot of fun with it.
The concept behind the game is simple enough: There is a zombie outbreak in Los Perdidos and you need to figure out how to get out, with the help of some other survivors. While there is a little more to the story, which does actually tie in to the rest of the series (with a special appearance from a character from another game), it's mostly pretty simple and straightforward. It does have its share of negative undertones expressed towards America, hidden subtly under a plethora of vulgar and nonsensical dialogue and game play. Despite this interesting satire, the story is still ultimately simple and drab. Interestingly enough, the main characters are boring; it's all the companions and villains you meet that really adds meat to the character of this game. I will warn you ahead of time that the bulk of the humor of this game revolves around vulgarity, so if you aren't into that kind of humor then you may be better off avoiding this game. This humor carries over to the well-varied and extremely fun boss battles as well (minus the disappointing final boss). Besides the bosses, the voice acting was actually hit or miss. There were some instances where I was laughing really loud, and there were some instances where I didn't care what was being said because there was no feeling in the dialogue. The music was unforgettable as well. There were no pieces that stood out to me.
There are three things that stood out as being exceptional in this game for me. The first concerns the combo weapons. You can pick up most any object in the game and use it as a weapon. To make things even more interesting, you can combine various weapons and objects together to make even more interesting and fun weapons. The same concept applies to vehicles. This is one of the most exciting things about the game, and assures that you always have something unique at your fingertips. It also gets rid of the major problem with zombie games: limited ammo. Your character is a resourceful individual which translates into fun and limitless weapons!
The second is the rewarding exploration. There are all sorts of things hidden around the world. There are propaganda speakers you can destroy, tragic moments to find and Frank West statues to collect. These are used to level up your character, but at least there is a little variety in the types of collectibles and they provide some actual use in the game. On top of that, there are blueprints all over the place which show you new combos you can make. There are also PP trials which are fun challenges that also help you level up your character. The city in this game is about as big as the city in the first Infamous. It isn't huge, but it isn't exactly tiny either. These collectibles aren't impossible to find and you can get upgrades that show you when a collectible is nearby, so you don't have to worry about being frustrated. There are some that require some clever thinking to reach though, and that is a welcome challenge.
The third? ZOMBIES! The game does not look exceptional. It looks like a slight improvement over the Xbox 360. In order to make up for last-gen graphics (don't get me wrong, the game DOES look good, and is very well-detailed...it merely didn't blow me away), the processing power foes through the roof. The number of zombies that are shown on screen is phenomenal. Considering I almost never had a frame rate drop, this really impressed me. It really helps drive home the fear of being killed when you are surrounded by 300-400 zombies that are simultaneously trying to eat your brains.
This was the first game I played that used the Smart Glass feature rather than just providing a details page. The app essentially functions as your in-game phone. You can access a map, obtain unique side quests, keep track of quests, get hints and even call down air strikes using the phone. It's not revolutionary, but it was a fun supplement to the game. Unfortunately, if you play the game co-op, only the host player can use Smart Glass. This meant that my co-op partner was never able to see what this feature could provide, since I always hosted.
I also tried playing around with the Kinect features, which were cute, but not entirely responsive. You could call out to zombies to get their attention and you could navigate some menus with your voice. None of these features worked reliably enough for me to consistently keep this option turned on.
Speaking of co-op, I highly recommend every person play this game with a friend. The game would not nearly have been as fun if I did not have a friend to play with. This actually leads me to some of my complaints about the game. Progress isn't always recorded correctly for the co-op player. Remember, I ONLY played this game in co-op, never by myself. That being said, many of the collectibles that we acquired didn't record for him, but they all did for me. Another issue is that even though it saves his character and story progression, every time he joined my game he'd be stuck with no weapons. This is a little frustrating because normally you keep whatever you had when you saved the game. I would have all these great weapons when we would start up a session and he'd have to start from scratch every time. Other than that though, the co-op was an absolute blast. Especially when experimenting with all the silly outfits you can wear in the game.
There are some noticeable glitches that could be very irritating. The most important one to mention is that the game tends to close at random times. I thought it was my Xbox One malfunctioning at first, but of all the games I own, this is the only one where this happens. It will go to the home screen and exit the game by itself sometimes. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough to be irritating. In our whole 45 hour play through of the game, it happened to us 4 times. Another issue is with quests. Some of the Smart Glass quests require you wait until you get contacted by a certain character after you finish previous quests. There were a few times where I wouldn't get contacted until we finished the chapter. We also had one quest that required we take a lady to different spots. While she kept following us, halfway through the quest it wasn't registering us as taking her to these spots even though we were all there. As a result we weren't able to complete this quest AND a survivor died because we couldn't do anything about it. This prevented us from getting 100%. I sincerely hope this isn't a common problem because if we play it again and are prevented from getting 100% because the game is broken...well let's say our level of frustration will be pretty high.
The imposed time limit in the game was another flaw as well. It did very well thematically in Dead Rising 1, but felt a little forced in Dead Rising 3. It really limited our ability to explore. Considering how much larger this game is than the original, forcing a time limit really belittles the open-world aspect of the game. I assume this was done to encourage multiple play throughs. Nightmare mode helps encourage this though, so why do they need to punish those of us who just want to relax and take our time with a fun open-world game.
Ultimately, this doesn’t feel like a triple-A title and is not a killer app. That being said, this is still a very enjoyable game and was a good launch title that helped us see some of the potential of the system. Not necessarily graphically but when it comes to processing power and game play.
Note: I played this game exclusively on the Xbox One. While I own it on the PC, I haven’t booted it up yet, so this review is based strictly on the Xbox One version. I also don’t have any of the DLC, so this review is bases on the base game, alone.
~ Teepu (Bowser05)