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Review: Dead Rising 3

“Dead Rising 3 is a great launch title. It’s extremely fun to play and presents an array of options for dealing with its overwhelming swarms of living dead.”

The Xbox One is here, and Microsoft is well-equipped with titles spanning many genres. One of these titles is Dead Rising 3, the latest and greatest in Capcom's flagship survival horror series.

With tons of zombies and gory action Dead Rising 3 hopes to not only diversify the Xbox One's launch catalog, but entertain early adopters. Is it successful?

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Dead Rising 3 begins by presenting its lead character who you play as, Nick Ramos. The young mechanic is buff and a perfect fit for slaying the hordes of zombies that have infested the fictional Los Perdidos. While it's hard to become attached to Nick Ramos or the few people he meets along his journey, Los Perdidos is a great place to spend time. Neither too big nor too small, it's dense with buildings you can enter and more zombies per area than just about any game in history.

The number of zombies presented on-screen at once is the technical centerpiece for the game. The moans and shuffling of zombies can be heard everywhere you go. Once you're in the thick of it, you'll want to quickly find a vehicle or other large object to jump onto or they can quickly overwhelm you. In most cases this proves to be impressive, but occasional and noticeable framerate drops dampen the experience. Also, while the zombies and character models have great quality, the environments aren't up to par. Outside of the hordes of enemies, Dead Rising 3 is by no means visually striking.

There are plenty of objectives to complete along your way, but your main goal in Dead Rising 3 is to dismember zombies in countless ways and have fun while you do it. In order to avoid repetition, the game has a huge catalog of weapons to use. You can pick up everything from coat hangars to cash registers and use them as a weapon of self defense against the disgusting flesh-eaters. In some cases that means using simple attack combos, while in other cases it means throwing the object as deliberately as you can. Though, some weapons are much more effective than others. Handguns, shotguns, dynamite, and some other goodies can clear a wave of enemies in a heartbeat.

Regular zombies aren't particularly dangerous, even in great quantity. However, there are other enemy types that require you pay attention. The bosses found at the end of each game chapter further this with mechanics of their own. Observation and great timing are needed to tackle these menacing foes.

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Killing zombies repeatedly is made even more fun by a well-designed leveling system. Each enemy killed awards you with Performance Points (PP) which you can then use to unlock new types of craftable weapons and improve your character. These choices are meaningful, making each decision you make feel like one that has impact. Choosing to upgrade your melee adds new attack types. Meanwhile, choosing to upgrade your agility will turn you into a triathlete.

Even once you've tried out most of the weapons in the game world to see what they're like to hit zombies with (katana anyone?), there's more. The crafting system from previous Dead Rising games is back and better than ever. Essentially, as long as you have the blueprint for a weapon and the required materials (sledgehammer + fire axe, for example), you can morph those items into something extremely powerful while on the move. Most of these weapons are, simply put, wild. They're all as fun to use as they are effective.

Vehicles can also be crafted. Some of these are incredibly powerful and are arguably the best way to level up quickly. Even if you choose not to craft a vehicle, finding one in the open-world isn't difficult. You'll spend a lot of time running over zombies, and truthfully it never gets old.

The gameplay experience is buffered by a generous amount of content. From the main menu you can select to play alone in Story Mode, co-op with a random person or a friend, and even choose a Nightmare Mode. The standard Story Mode is formatted to be more casual with no day limit and saves available whenever you're outside. On the other hand, Nightmare Mode is like previous iterations where you're short on time and can only save in bathrooms or porta-potties. If you do choose to play online with a stranger, you'll be happy to see that there are options for deciding which type of partner you get paired with. If you just want to fool around, you can specify that. If you're very serious about your Dead Rising adventures, you have the option to play with another similar-minded player.

Beyond game modes, there are tons of collectibles around the game world, and even costumes to collect. You'll find yourself running around with tennis gear and firefighter boots. Dead Rising 3 isn't afraid to be wacky. There are also many side-missions around Los Perdidos that reward you with PP. These side missions are varied and rewarding.

There is also some completely optional Kinect integration. Being able to navigate through menus quickly with voice commands is my preferred way of getting around—it's just… faster—, but yelling at enemies to turn their attention or pushing with your arms to get zombies off of you is as gimmicky as it sounds. At least they tried.

Dead Rising 3 is a great launch title. It's extremely fun to play and presents an array of options for dealing with its overwhelming swarms of living dead. Sadly, its run-of-the-mill visuals and performance issues make it an improper demonstration of Microsoft's new hardware. This isn't the game that will justify your Xbox One purchase, but is a benefit to having one.

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Jonathan Leack is the Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @jleack.


Review copy provided by publisher. Game is exclusive to Xbox One.