Dead Rising 3 - Preview

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This third entry appears to properly up the ante in a way that only a next-gen console is capable of

Release Date: 26/06/2013

Dead Rising 3 preview for Xbox One at GAME

When Dead Rising first hit the scene in 2006 it was a revelation. Despite some clunky controls, the game paved new ground by combining the open-world adventure with the zombie apocalypse - something that required the power of the Xbox 360 era console to emulate. Since then we've had plenty of other open-world zombie games, from Techland's sprawling first-person doomsday epic Dead Island, to Ubisoft's labyrinthine survival-horror throwback ZombiU, to downloadable titles like State of Decay. With all those plus a second Dead Rising game already on the market, what need is there for a Dead Rising 3?

Strength In Numbers

The answer appears to be scope. Dead Rising 3 looks to be a massive game set in an entire city, rather than the confines of a single shopping centre. But a bigger setting needs more zombies and that's where the Xbox One fits in. Dead Rising 3 massively ups the undead count from any previous open-world game. There can be literally hundreds of the shambling buggers within spitting distance of you at any given time. While in the previous games you could simply run past the snail-paced walkers, here they create insurmountable barriers of rotting flesh and snapping jaws.

This turns navigation into a puzzle of sorts. Do you toss flares to distract them, hop across the tops of upturned vehicles to platform your way across, or maybe call in an airstrike using Smartglass integration? This cross-platform integration won't be necessary to enjoy Dead Rising 3, but it can be used for looking up additional info, like the location of a gun shop - which will then appear as a waypoint.

Dead Rising 3 preview for Xbox One at GAME

The increased zombie density is so drastic that having a car doesn't make you the nearly invincible behemoth it did before. The zombies will have a real sense of physics to them, so if you push against an undead barrier too thick you'll wind up spinning your wheels and getting surrounded. Undead minions will even grab onto your ride, which will throw off your vehicle's balance.

MacGuyver's Got Nothing on Nick

Thankfully, new protagonist Nick Ramos has new skills to combat the greater odds against him. Unlike other Dead Rising leads, Nick is a mechanic and can combine items without having to find a work bench to do so. He'll still need to find blueprints, but being able to tape a sledgehammer to a chainsaw or create a two-sided sword while in a pinch should allow for a more varied survival experience.

Enemies will be more varied, too, as they'll retain a greater sense of who they were. The only example of this that Capcom showed off was the ex-firemen zombies who don't necessarily remember how to fight fires, but they do remember how to swing an axe.

Perhaps Dead Rising's most divisive mechanic was its constantly ticking timer, granting you a set amount of time to complete side-quests and rescue survivors. That's become optional this time around. In Dead Rising 3's default status, there will be no timer and the game will auto-save for you. On the optional Nightmare Mode, however, there will be a time limit, you'll only be able to save in washrooms, and enemies will be much harder. Play at your own risk.

Dead Rising 3 preview for Xbox One at GAME

Why So Serious?

Longtime fans may have noticed from Dead Rising 3's reveal at Microsoft's E3 press conference that it features a lot less comedy this time around. The previous games were known for their goofy costumes, poorly animated NPCs pantomiming that they needed help, and B-movie bosses. Dead Rising 3 is opting for a gritter, more serious tone. That being said, there will still be funny costumes - like a women's sun dress or a foam shark costume - but these elements are no longer in the foreground.

Another worrying part of Dead Rising 3's demonstration was its hugely noticeable slowdown in certain areas. When lots of zombies are getting exploded by a gas truck, the framerate could drop down to what appeared to be single digits. It's rare that it gets that bad, but at this early stage at least some level of slowdown was a frequent occurrence.

These bugbears will likely be pretty minor in the long run. While Dead Rising 2 felt like Dead Rising 1.5, this third entry appears to properly up the ante in a way that only a next-gen console is capable of. It may not feel as fresh any more, but what do you expect from rotting corpses? The important thing is that it still looks like fun.

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