WITH THE XBOX ONE LAUNCH mere weeks away, competition between Microsoft and Sony is at an all time high, with both companies claiming their games console has the superior launch lineup. To help decide which is actually better we got some hands-on time with one of the Xbox One's exclusive launch titles, Dead Rising 3.
Jumping into the shoes of newly created frontman Nick Ramos, we got to try out a couple of the single player campaign's missions. The plot of Dead Rising 3 follows on from the events of the first two titles, telling the story of Ramos and a ragtag group of misfits as they battle to survive a zombie outbreak in the fictional city of Los Perdidos.
Playing through the opening level we noticed the core gameplay is at first glance very similar to that of the first two Dead Rising titles. Dead Rising 3 drops you into the middle of an open world city infested with zombies and tasks you to undertake certain missions. As with the first two Dead Rising games, there are a variety of mission types. For starters you have basic plot missions, and these are offered to you as a part of Dead Rising 3's semi-linear narrative. However, you can also pick up a number of side missions as you play through the game's main plot. Side missions can be collected in a variety of ways, including moving to certain points in Dead Rising 3's sizable open world, or answering incoming telephone calls on Ramos' phone.
The similarity is not a bad thing, as during our time with Dead Rising 3 we found that the game's side missions are as varied as ever. For example, on one occasion we were tasked to save a survivor from a horde of rampaging zombies trying to break into the building where she'd barricaded herself, while on another we were sent to euthanise a survivor that had gone insane and turned into a homicidal maniac.
Dead Rising 3 also has what at first glance appear to be combat mechanics that are fairly similar to those of its predecessors. As before, Dead Rising 3 combat and survival requires you to harvest a variety of weapons and tools from your surroundings. At the start of the game this means that you'll be picking up bricks and knocking over road signs to use as weapons. However, after we spent some time with Dead Rising 3 we realised that Capcom has radically refined and improved the series's combat mechanics.
The first change we noticed is the addition of a new "strong attack" option. Ramos can attack zombies using either a basic normal attack, which is activated with the X button, or really nail them with a strong hit using the Y button. While our hand to hand combat with zombie hordes did still occasionally devolve into basic, desperate button bashing, the additional attack option did serve to make combat slightly more engaging.
Capcom has also improved the way you collect weapons throughout the game, adding a much more robust "combine" feature. The combination mechanic lets you combine items you collect to create more powerful tools and weapons. On a basic level this lets you do things like duct tape a knife to a gun to create an ad-hoc bayonet, however during our time playing we found that the system will reward you for more "creative" combination attempts. For example, in one moment of madness we attempted to combine a teddy bear with a hand grenade. The result was a grenade stuffed teddy. Not happy to stop there, we decided to continue of experiment and tried to combine our newly created bomber-bear with a variety of new parts, including guns, computers and more explosives. The final result of our labour was a stuffed harbinger of death teddy bear sentry gun that automatically shot any zombies coming towards us and exploded after its ammo was spent. The death bear's final zombie head count broke 30, which we thought was awesome.
Even better, we found that the combination mechanic works on vehicles too. This meant that when we were near adjacently parked vehicles, we could combine them to create a hybrid zombie killing machine. For example, on one occasion when riding through the city on a motorbike we spotted a steamroller parked at the side of the road. Once we parked the bike next to it we clicked the RT inventory button, accessed the combine option and replaced our bike's front wheel with the roller to create a zombie crushing hybrid vehicle.
Aside from its impressively upgraded combat dynamics, we were also impressed with Dead Rising 3's upgraded graphics. During our hands-on we couldn't help but notice how much better the game looks than its predecessors. Textures are more detailed, lighting is more dynamic and the rigid stick-like animations of Dead Rising one and two have been replaced with wonderfully fluid, realistic equivalents. Capcom has also taken advantage of the Xbox One's improved memory to increase the number of zombies that can be rendered at any one time. This means that unlike previous Dead Rising games, which could render hundreds of zombies at any one time, Dead Rising 3 can throw thousands of the undead at you. This adds up to make combat and even moving through the city far more tense.
Overall, our opening hands on time with Dead Rising 3 has left us feeling positive about Capcom's new zombie survival game. Dead Rising 3 has improved combat and scavenging mechanics as well as radically improved graphics. and we can't wait to have some more time with it.
Check back with The INQUIRER later for a full review of Dead Rising 3 on the Xbox One. µ