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Dead Rising 3 Apocalypse Edition

Dead Rising 3 Apocalypse Edition

Written by Jeff Kintner on 10/31/2014 for PC  
More On: Dead Rising 3

Our first taste of Dead Rising 3 was as a piece of hype fuel for the Xbox One during the 2013 E3, where it was announced that it would be an exclusive launch title. Earlier this year, Microsoft saw fit to release a PC port, so now you can get Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition on Steam for $49.99. The Apocalypse Edition includes the full game, as well as four of the DLC packs that are included in the Xbox One's Season Pass. There's a lot of content in this beast of a game; it took my computer the better part of an afternoon to download all 25 GB of it. For reference, Skyrim with the Dawnguard and Hearthfire packs will occupy less than 7 GB on your hard drive.

A quick note: I've watched a bit of gameplay from the first two Dead Rising games, but I hadn't played any of them until I got my hands on DR3. So if I go on about game elements that have been a staple in the series as if they're something new, you know why.

The PC port's release had a rocky start to say the least. Players that installed it in the first few days were experiencing random game crashing bugs. But Capcom was able to get a patch up in the first week and it looks like it fixed the problem. I installed it after the patch went up, and I didn't have any performance issues. As a port, the Apocalypse Edition holds up well. According to the developers, the game has been locked at 30 fps because it had already been optimized to run at that speed. Fortunately, if you're willing to do a bit of manual tinkering, it isn't hard get it to run at 60 fps. Since it's a port, the UI and everything is set up to use with a gamepad, so if you're playing with a keyboard and mouse there are times  the controls feel a bit clunky and awkward. The good news is that if you don't like the standard keybindings you can rebind them so they work for you. After playing around with both setups I found myself most comfortable playing with a gamepad, but if you prefer playing with a keyboard and mouse your experience won't be worse for it. I can't compare the graphics of the port to the console version since I don't have a copy, but that didn't stop me from being amazed by how beautiful Dead Rising 3 is. The characters and NPCs look great in cutscenes and during gameplay, there  weren't any obtuse textures or objects that looked tacked onto the environment. Los Perdidos is a beautiful, vibrant city- albeit half demolished and populated almost entirely by the bloodthirsty undead.

Los Perdidos is the largest map yet in the Dead Rising series. But as far as open worlds go, it isn't really that big but you get a lot of mileage out of it. When designing a city in a game, it's really easy to just copy and paste buildings so it ends up being endless walls of doors you can't enter and windows with the curtains drawn. But for as small as the city is, it's packed  with districts and avenues that are home to open buildings and rooftops for you to explore. Plus, it loads seamlessly, and that's always cool. When I say you get a lot of mileage out of the map, I mean it in two ways: first, there's a lot for you to explore and find. Not only are there a countless number of buildings for you to explore, but the game is lousy with collectables hidden throughout the shops, rooftops, alleyways and basements of Los Perdidos. Second,  because the developers want the city to feel as big as possible, they have you trekking from one corner to the other in almost every mission you pick up. After I'd completed about a dozen side quests I found myself groaning "GOD, are there any missions that don't require running to the opposite side of the city?" The bright side to this is that the pacing of the missions is open enough to let you take your time and explore the city, there's nothing to stop you from picking up a few dozen collectables on your trek back to turn in your mission.

There are a TON of collectibles in this game: 105 weapon blueprints, 9 books that give you a small passive buff, 46 outfits (and far more single pieces of clothing), and 130 hidden parcels of Prestige Points (DR3's version of Experience Points) in the form of Frank statues, ZDC speakers, and tragic endings. Obviously, the weapon blueprints are your top priority- each one expands your arsenal and gives you a new entertaining way to eviscerate, burn, and blow up the thriving zombie population. The outfits don't have any mechanical benefit, but they provide a lot of entertainment value. It's embarrassing how long I spent trying to decide between wearing a tuxedo and a karate gi as I gallivanted around Los Perdidos. There are also safe houses throughout the city with weapon lockers that hold every weapon and combo weapon you've used, closets that hold every item of clothing you've found, and there are also auto shops with work benches that will spawn any vehicle and combo vehicle you've driven. So if you want to wear army fatigues and spray a flamethrower into the air while driving a forklift, it only requires a quick trip to the nearest safe house and auto shop, instead of tracking down every piece individually.

The last three types of collectibles are ones I could take or leave. There are 70 golden statues of Frank West, the OG of the series, these are actually fun to collect because they always involve doing some parkour to get to, or at least some skill to find the correct path to them. Plus, as you find more statues, they're worth more PP. There's also ZDC speakers that you shoot down to stop them from spewing government propaganda against unregistered infected. They aren't very hard to find, but they do have some story flavor behind them, and like the Frank statues- the PP you earn from shooting them increases as you find more of them. And then there's the tragic endings that are just pointless. They aren't hard to get to, you just have to find the right dead body and examine it. Your reward is a bit of PP and a woefully bad pun. Like the bodies I found crammed in a box that said 'Sometimes you need to think outside the box.' or the body I found on top of a pole that said 'getting high doesn't always solve your problems.' It felt like they ran out of good ideas but wanted more collectibles, so they slap-dashed these tragic endings together.

The zombie infection in Los Perdidos is a thing to behold. You're going to face an endless throng of zombies, and combat often involves you going against hundreds of them by yourself. The thing is- you're not going to have much of a problem mowing through every one of those zombies. In my first few hours of playing, I had already racked up 1,000 kills. At the end of the first day, the game goes all WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT TO HAVE A CURSE on you. When the sun goes down, the zombie population goes way up and becomes more aggressive- but it's still not hard to plow your way through them, or even to go around them. The only outlier to this is the special firefighter zombies. If you see a zombie wearing a firefighter uniform, you better have some good weapons on you, because you're going to need them. They take way more hits than any of the other zombies, and it's difficult to interrupt them from burying their door-busting fireaxe in your torso. There are other special zombies-like cops and soldiers that can hold guns, football players that tackle you, and king zombies that explode after you shoot them- but the firefighters are the only enemies that have the capacity to completely wreck you.

My main problem with the gameplay is that it's too easy. You have more than enough time to meet any deadline set for you, even when the zombies are amped up at night they don't provide much of a challenge, and even the bosses with a ton of health are easy to rip through if you have a firearm. If you're looking for a challenge, you're going to have to play through the Nightmare Mode where time passes faster, enemies are tougher, resources are harder to come by, and you can only save at port-a-johns. For those of you who liked the first game, apparently Nightmare mode is supposed to play similar to that.

By far, the worst part of Dead Rising 3 is the story. Granted, I haven't played the first two games, so I didn't have any backstory going into it, but my problem wasn't a lack of context. I had no problem understanding what was going on, it was just really hard for me to care because the story wasn't compelling at all. Plus, the pacing is really off. Plot development runs really thin up until the last two acts when everything is suddenly happening at once and a bunch of boss fights get thrown at you. There's a romantic interest that's supposed to drive the story forward, but it's so poorly conceived that it's annoying and painful to watch. In fact, whenever romance gets involved in the story, the characters' IQ suddenly drops and character development suddenly goes flying out the window. I won't spoil anything major, but there was one point where I actually threw down my controller in disbelief because the character that's been in charge of securing our escape from the city pulls a 180 at the very end and decides to stay behind because she feels bad about the way she broke up with her ex.  You can get her back, so I know the mechanical purpose of this is to add an optional mission that effects what kind of ending you get- but from a narrative standpoint her reasoning and actions make absolutely no sense and come out of nowhere. But the silver lining that comes with the story being paper thin is that you can skip through the cutscenes and go back to killing zombies, because you won't miss anything of value.

Thankfully, what Dead Rising 3 lacks in difficulty and compelling narrative, it more than makes up for in delightfully morbid ways to kill zombies. Most of the game's staying power comes from the weapon blueprints you find throughout the game, and the abilities and perks you get from leveling up. I love the way this game's leveling system works- since you start out as a competent zombie killer, you don't need damage buffs or defense buffs to make you better. Instead, when you level up an attribute you get something totally new to work with. When you upgrade your Agility you get new combos like 'aerial curb stomping' and 'grabbing zombies by the neck and swinging them around like a helicopter' (If you couldn't tell those are the nicknames I gave those abilities). If you upgrade your Ranged attribute, your guns have bigger magazines and start firing incendiary rounds. Or, you can upgrade your affinity with categories of weapons. Normally, a blueprint for a weapon requires two specific items; like the Electric Crusher that has you combo a sledgehammer and a car battery. If you upgrade your affinity with Electronics, you can make an Electric Crusher by combining a sledge hammer with any electronic device you find lying around. Basically, instead of upgrading your melee attribute or ranged attribute, you're upgrading your MacGyver attribute- in my opinion it's the best way to level up. Whether you want to make it easier to work with the scores upon scores of blueprints you find, or just want to make it easier to craft your favorite weapons, you should invest a few weapons categories. Think of it this way- if you can build a lightsaber out of a hubcap and a purple "massager" anything is possible!

I'm disappointed that the online co-op doesn't make the enemies more difficult or add more loot, it just brings another player into your game. But all the same, carnage is always more fun with company- and whatever either of you find while playing together is saved to both of your games. So even if it doesn't add more depth to the game, it makes it worthwhile to play with other people. It's easy to invite your Steam friends into the game by sending an invite, but if none of your friends have a copy, there's a decent matchmaking system in place. Instead of filtering strictly by level you can choose to be matched by playstyle. If you want to find everything in the game, you can ask to be matched with other completionists; if you're trying to set a record you can ask to be matched with other speedrunners. And even though there is friendly fire, it's pretty forgiving. So even though a lot of the attack animations have wide swings, it's not likely that you'll Streets of Rage all over your co-op partner.

The Apocalypse Edition also include all four of the Untold Stories DLC packs. Each untold story fills in some holes in the main storyline by putting you in control of a character from each of the factions in Los Perdidos- a soldier, a biker, an unregistered infected, and a ZDC agent. Each story includes some new weapons, vehicles and outfits that are available from any safe house and auto shop in the main game. What's really great about the untold stories is the fact that they use your save data from the main story. So if you want to keep leveling but don't want to replay through the main story, this is the overtime you were hoping for.

While it's easy to go on about a bad story and a few annoying or otherwise erroneous gameplay elements, Dead Rising 3 doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't. It's an incredibly entertaining dose of ultraviolence that lets you be as kooky and irreverent as you want to be. I dropped about 22 hours of gameplay into it before I wrote a word about it, if that's any indication of how much I enjoyed it.

Even though it has a few annoying and erroneous elements and an uncompelling, cringeworthy story, Dead Rising 3 is still an incredibly fun game. If you're looking for something where you can turn your brain off and go ballistic- Dead Rising 3 is going to be a perfect fit for you.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I've spent an embarrassing percentage of my life planted in front of a screen. I'm pretty sure I know the layout of Planet Zebes better than my own home town, and most of my social life in high school revolved around Halo 2 and Super Smash Brothers. When I wasn't on a console I was playing every ROM I could get my mitts on.

These days I spend most of my time with games made by small studios, because they tend to make what I'm interested in playing. I love developers that experiment with new mechanics, write challenging and immersive narratives, and realize that a game's aesthetics are more than it's graphics. So long story short-you'll see a lot of posts from me about Kickstarter campaigns and Early Access debuts.
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