There was a collective groan from the internet when Dead Rising 3 was shown off this year at E3. Half of the negativity came as a result of what appeared to be a change in direction, where the game looked to have a more serious tone than its often silly predecessors. The other half, however, was confused about why yet another zombie game should be showcased as a marquee title of the next gen. After seeing an extended preview of the game at this past week’s Gamescom, I can assure fans and detractors alike that any gripes you may have thought you had can be saved for another day; Dead Rising 3 is going to knock your socks off.
Bigger, Badder and Uncut
The demo I watched (unfortunately the game wasn’t yet playable) took place in a more urban area of the fictional Los Perdidos, California (as opposed to the residential, suburb-like location featured in the E3 videos). Right off the bat, this area felt more like the older games as it was populated with numerous shops and restaurants, all of them filled with items you could wield, wear or eat.
What got my attention immediately was the amount of zombies on screen, a feat magnified by the very detailed character models that could be sliced and diced in a variety of different ways. For the most part, they were the conventional undead but the developers did show off some zombified police officers that were more armored and wielded guns (though their aim was what you’d expect of a zombie). I get the impression that we’ll see a larger variety of zombie types, though none were shown off.
Another reason why the DR3 demo was impressive was the fact that there will not be any loading times in-between areas (though what they meant by areas wasn’t entirely obvious). That being said, there was not a single loading screen during their time in the downtown area and the demo did wander around quite a bit. This is a huge positive for the game, especially due to the horrible loading times from the previous games. Having seamless levels, even if it’s not an entirely seamless world, will really help with the flow and the scale (which at this point seems massive). The fact that vehicles play such a big role (more of that later) is also evidence that we’re dealing with a game world that far surpasses anything we’ve previously seen.
Something Old, Something New
The first big change is the addition of safe rooms, areas of the city that are completely impervious to threats. While the original games had these, they didn’t have nearly the amount of features that Dead Rising 3’s safe rooms will have. For example, there are storage lockers that will store the outfits and weapons you find out in the world, making it easier to grab your favorite zombie decimating tools and uniforms. In addition to that, there is a survivor’s bulletin board that shows the survivors you’ve rescued and allows you to recruit them for assistance in navigating the undead hordes. Additionally, you’ll be able to call these survivors in for back up while out in the city through the use of Smart Glass or manually through the D-pad. The crew showing off the game assured us that the survivors had much better AI this time around and were quite capable of handling themselves without the need for the player to hold their hands.
The jaw dropping moment in demo, however ,involved the redesigned crafting system, a system that, while interesting, fell a bit short in Dead Rising 2. The crafting tables have been done away with, replaced by blueprints that allow you to create weapons wherever you may be as long as you have the right parts. On top of that, using experience points (called prestige) to upgrade your crafting ability (in addition to improving other stats), you’re able to create certain recipes by merely having the same category of item in your possession. For example, they showed off a recipe that required a Blanka (from Street Fighter) mask and a battery (let’s just say that a variety of special weapons mirror Street Fighter moves). The guy playing the game had the mask but didn’t have the battery. Because he’d upgraded his crafting abilities, he was able to use a flashlight as a replacement ingredient instead since it and the battery were in the same category of items. Crafting is going to be a whole lot easier this time around, allowing you to cut, shoot and burn your way through the hordes in a variety of imaginative ways.
But the developers of Dead Rising 3 were not satisfied in just improving the current crafting system, they decided to take it to a new and stupidly awesome direction that got an audible reaction from the group I was watching it with. In addition to crafting weapons, you can now combine vehicles together to create engines of destruction that lay waste to the undead hordes in ways you hadn’t thought possible (unless of course you think about such things quite a bit). The first vehicle we saw was the combination of a normal car and a bulldozer (yes, you can drive a bulldozer round), which resulted in an armored vehicle with a cannon and side mounted chainsaws for keeping the zombies from hanging onto you as you drove. That was pretty freaking awesome, but the motorcycle/steamroller combination upped the ante quite a bit. The amount of zombies killed in a mere few seconds was unreal. I may or may not have pumped my fist at that very moment.
Wrapping It Up
I knew I wanted to play Dead Rising 3 because I was a fan of the franchise, but the demo has me anticipating the game that much more. People that absolutely despised the Dead Rising games may not be quite as excited seeing as the formula is still there, though quite a bit more refined. Regardless, the game is impressive even if your disdain for zombies is not at an all time high. You can definitely expect some goofy fun set within a densely populated sandbox world, though I’m not expecting too much more than that as the plots of Dead Rising games have not always been the richest.
I realize I’m a zombie fan and perhaps I’m a bit biased, but I’m being as objective as possible when I’m telling you that this game is a head turner. The scope is huge, the gameplay looks fun and the possibilities for zombie themed slaughter look nearly endless. If anything gave me a nerd boner at Gamescom this year, it was definitely Dead Rising 3.
PC Games (images)