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Dead Rising 3 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £45
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Bigger and with more zombies, but something is lost in translation from Xbox 360 to Xbox One

Be sure to read our full Xbox One hardware review for and in-depth look at the system and its features

What could be worse than being trapped in a shopping mall full of Zombies? How about an entire city? The Xbox One’s first Dead Rising game takes everything we love about the undead action series and turns it up to 11, with bigger locations, crazier makeshift weapons and more zombies on one screen than was ever possible on the Xbox 360.

Los Perdidos is bigger than both Dead Rising’s Willamette mall and Dead Rising 2’s Fortune City; yet beyond the initial loading screen you can get across the entire map without interruption. Clearly taking inspiration from Los Angeles, Dead Rising 3’s city looks positively tiny compared to Grand Theft Auto 5’s interpretation of the same location, which is running on previous generation hardware.

It’s still so big that you won’t be able to traverse it safely on foot; there are plenty of abandoned vehicles strewn throughout the city streets, but these won’t last long when driven head first into a crowd of hungry flesh eaters. Luckily you play as greasemonkey Nick Ramos, who can combine cars, bikes and trucks to create Mad Max-inspired vehicles more suited to a zombie apocalypse than the average family sedan.

Aside from the larger map and new ways to cross it, developers Capcom Vancouver haven’t changed the series formula too drastically. You still have a set number of days to escape the city before a military strike wipes out the zombie threat, as well as any survivors unlucky enough to be caught in the blast. The game clock is always ticking, so you only have a limited time to complete the story and get the good ending, but there are hundreds of side missions along the way. These include helping survivors, who then join your posse to be called on from any safe house when you need some backup, and defeating psychopaths.

Dead Rising 3
New zombie types pose an additional challenge – these ex-firemen carry axes

These optional boss fights provide a much greater challenge than the average zombie and can unlock more powerful weapons or shortcuts across the map once defeated. Each one takes the series’ trademark black humour to new levels as the larger than life characters lose track of their sanity amidst the zombie apocalypse. They make a welcome break from the main plot, which takes itself a little too seriously, although you can of course still turn up to every story-advancing cut-scene in a woman’s summer dress and go-go boots to add your own fun.

Being a mechanic by trade has other benefits. Nick can combine everyday objects to create deadly combination weapons that increase your zombie-killing prowess. This can be done at any time, as long as you have the relevant blueprints and the objects themselves; this is much better than the workbench system of the previous game, as it saves you from backtracking across the expansive map quite so frequently.

Further into the game some of the fun is lost as you can simply take any previously picked up weapon from a locker in each safe house, but it will still take a long time until you’ve tried every weapon. The list of potential combinations is expansive, starting with the basics and getting increasingly wacky as you find more blueprints. Throwing some nails and a baseball bat together may sound like common sense, but why bother when a car battery and a traffic light create a lightning staff that Gandalf himself would be jealous of?

Dead Rising 3
The Roller Hawg combines a bike with a steamroller, and is one of the most effective vehicles in the game

You’ll need everything you can get your hands on, as the sheer number of zombies that stand between you and escape is simply staggering. According to the developers, the Xbox One is able to display three times more zombies at once than was possible on the Xbox 360; turning a corner to find an entire horde baring down on you for the first time is quite an experience. In other respects though, Dead Rising isn’t the technical marvel we were hoping for. The game runs at 720p before being upscaled by the console, leaving a lot of jagged edges and lines. There’s an awful lot of texture and object pop-in, and the frame rate occasionally drops into choppy sub-30fps territory.

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