Originally an Xbox One exclusive, the zombie-mascaraing, open-world, extravaganza Dead Rising 3 has finally made its way to PC. The same core game remains – and is joined by all four Untold Stories of Los Perdidos DLC packs – but has this port been properly reanimated, or is it just a shambling shadow of its former self?
Last of the Living
Dead Rising 3 follows new hero, Nick Ramos, as he and his gang of un-undead attempt to escape the city. Walking cadavers fill every inch of the streets, impeding the team’s escape. Thus, most of the group remain in a fortified stronghold while Nick is suckered into rescuing other survivors, gathering supplies, and discovering the truth. Luckily, Nick is fairly industrious and can happily turn anything he finds – from a hair drier to a hand grenade – into a weapon, allowing him to slash, smash, explode, and… perm (?) any zombie that gets in his way.
If your current scavenged armory isn’t quite doing it for you, then handyman Ramos is capable of combining all manner of items and vehicles to create new ones. From the Defiler’s mix of sledgehammer and axe, to the cuddly gun-turret “Freedom Bear”, it seems that there is little that Nick can’t put together with a roll of Duck Tape. Not only do combo weapons make filleting the undead more efficient they also earn you additional experience when used, allowing you to power-up with increased frequency to improve your chances of survival.
The Walking Dead
The Dead Rising series has always been a strange beast. Though it is certainly now improved, newcomers will still find themselves wrestling with a legacy odd design decisions, many of which are still present in the third installment.
Rendering zombies into tiny pieces with anything you can find is fun, however, the sheer number of undead - combined with loose controls - force a heavier reliance on movement and evasion than the act of joyously eviscerating zombies. Indeed, until you get the larger, more indiscriminate weapons that allow you to lay waste to huge swathes of zombies at a time, combat is usually reserved for when you are stuck in a corner or on set missions. This does add tension, as there are moments of legitimate panic as you fight helplessly against a swarm. When trying to complete a story mission against the clock, however, it becomes a frustration.
Another returning issue is the cumbersome nature of picking up and using items. Though the on-the-fly selection from your inventory is now improved, it is still far from intuitive when surrounded by brain hungry zombies.
The final holdover from previous Dead Risings is the boss battles. These were always combat focused and massively challenging – an issue not helped by the aforementioned control issues. While these missions are still not exactly a highlight they are improved, enabling me able to take down the Hells Angel riding a steamroller-motorbike first time due to far a better encounter design.
The city of Los Perdidos is huge, spanning virtual miles of sun-soaked real estate. As you scamper through it on foot or speed across it in cars, you’ll start to realize that you have not had to wait for a single load screen. The whole map is ready to accommodate you from the moment you enter the world, a particularly impressive feat when is stuffed full of so many living corpses.
Of course this does tax your computer. Even though your home PC’s specs may far outshine the Xbox One’s, the closed environment of the console has advantages that cannot be utilized here. The result is that the game can really chug when you are moving quickly through the streets.
This is a shame because, with all the settings turned up, the streets of Los Perdidos looks fantastic. Filled with detail and open, accessible buildings, you get a real sense for the area before the outbreak. Add to this several thousand zombies, you have an environment that is as much a part of the story as any individual character – with each new area giving you a new account of the events that unfurled there.
Dead and loving it
It’s hard not to enjoy how much Dead Rising 3 revels in its own oddity as you flail your way through its hordes. Though the refinements have washed out some of the earlier games more idiosyncratic charm, the open world and gameplay refinements make for a fair trade. And if you are a diehard fan who thinks these changes are sacrilege, don’t be put off: the story has a fantastic payoff.