Friday, 28 August 2015

Rising of the dead

Dead Rising 3

Platform tested: Xbox One

When I picked up a Xbox 360 back in 2007 with a couple of games, the original Dead Rising was one of them. While I really appreciated the scale, number of zombies on screen and the ambitions of the game, I felt the execution was annoying and badly executed. The game was based on the idea that you replayed it multiple times to even have a chance of saving everyone at the mall it was situated at. There were tiresome escort missions and a very strict time limit to follow. These annoyances were the main factor I just skipped DR2 entirely. Don't get me wrong though, the concept was indeed a fantastic one.

Water under the bridge though, and perhaps I missed out on some good gaming in DR2, so when I needed a new exclusive for my Xbox One I decided to go for DR3. The game puts you in control of Nick Ramos, who is stranded in the fictional city of Los Perdidos after the zombie outbreak. You must first find your way to the city center and collaborate with other survivors to escape. The city is fairly large, with three main parts and some highways to connect them. It's not as large as many open world cities, but it's a perfect size to learn by heart and get familiar with and features quite a few indoor environments too. Quality over quantity and all that.

Similar to it's predecessors DR3 mainly focuses on melee combat, though guns are easily available. The guns, however, don't rack up as many levelling points and can be rather bad to use when tons of zombies are grabbing out to get hold of Nick. Melee weapons seem to give you better crowd control when you are surrounded, and you will be surounded often, pushing the zombies back and creating some breathing room. The game even has quite a bit of vehicle zombie slaughtering too.

New weapons and vehicles can be constructed after obtaining blueprints that are spread around the map. In a great Dead Rising fashion you can make some pretty fancy weapons, I especially enjoyed some of the brutal vehicles you could smash up tons of zombies with!

DR3 has improved on it's control setup, but I still found it slightly cumbersome. It's not often I fumble with the buttons in games, but somehow I managed to do so DR3. It just feels clunky and a with not much thought put into the flow of switching weapons fast and picking up stuff when you are being attacked. They really should have some easier method of quickly obtaining weapons and separating healing items from the weapon wheel. Buttons are simply strangely placed compared to the standard setup in most other games.

That said though, you do et accustomed to the control scheme and I truly enjoyed killing off all these zombies with the tons of crazy weapons you have at your disposal. It feels very satisfying, something that's essential in a game like this.

There's another issue I had with DR3 apart from it's control setup, while I do understand the decision to have a time limit before the whole city gets blown up, and you do actually have a huge amount of time to mess about in, I just can't help feel it's an annoying pressure looming behind. Granted the story spans over six days, and as such a timer is essential to convey this. Certain tasks have to be completed on certain days, while side missions are free to do if you have the time.

The timer though constantly sits at the back of my mind when I'm playing it and I really do want to just have time and fun when exploring open world games without time pressure. The limit doesn't suit the game genre very well. Luckily the levelling, compared to DR1, is fast and you can accomplish high levels within one playthrough. Easing up the difficulty to complete the missions that are required. There's of course the option to replay the game with the levels you have obtained, a sort of new game plus. I'm guessing it will be a fair bit easier in the first days of the outbreak with a highly levelled character!

I really did enjoy DR3, more so than I actually though I would, and it's clear that it has it's own little niche in the zombie genre. With a little more tweaking on both the controls and the abandoning of time limits, it really could become a fantastic franchise. I definitely would recommend anybody interested in the genre to give this a go if they have a Xbox One, it's not exactly a system seller, but it's fun and made for the fans of the series. Keep in mind that you just focus on the main missions each day, then you can focus on the side missions for the remaining hours of the day. AS such you will hardly think of the time limit as an issue. Newcomers may find the whole thing slightly overwhelming and fairly difficult at the beginning, but give it some time and you will find it to be a very enjoyable and original experience.



+ Plus points

  • Tons of weapons and vehicles to build and try out.
  • Detailed and decent sized city to roam.
  • The Dead Rising concept is still unique in the zombie genre.

- Minus points

  • Still limited by time schedule, a feature really not needed.
  • Fairly steep learning curve, almost requires back knowledge of the series.
  • Clumsy controls still hamper the flow of gameplay somewhat.

Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha

Platform tested: Xbox One

Here's where the crazy begins! Apart from the more standard DLC's this late arriving one with the rather Capcomish title, a nod to you Street Fighter, is the one that sets itself apart. In fact it's such a different game to the original Dead Rising 3, it should have been a standalone game not requiring the main game!

In a typical Final Fight style game you have four areas of the city to fight in, each area contains a few set goals to complete before advancing to a boss. Each round has you saving hostages, collecting items or blowing up stuff, sort of mini-missions if you like. You choose between characters from the DR series; Nick, Annie, Chuck (from DR2) and Frank (from DR1) and completing levels, tasks and finding items will unlock crazy new outfits, or should I say cosplays(?!), for each of them. Each outfit gives you specific abilities and weapons.

I went full in to play Annie as her third locked costume was Regina's outfit from one of my favourite games of all time; Dino Crisis. She has the pink hair, assault machineguns and an awesome flying dinosaur as a super attack! I was very satisfied, being the huge Dino Crisis fan I am! You can also unlock a Chun-Li outfit for Annie of Street Fighter fame, this outfit bases itself on hand to hand combat to suit it's origins. It's a nostalgia party unlocking outfits for this game, at least if you have any prior knowledge of Capcom classics!

I enjoyed the variety in the stages that are based on DR3's city, thankfully they have visually been changed up. Making them feel more like new areas. Here there are huge colourful banners, neon lights and cartoon outlines around everything, making it look and sound like a crazy arcade game. The visuals and the retro electronic music all come together nicely.

Gameplay is all about racking up points and keeping within time limits. It's a game that begs for replaying again and again, beating your last highscore and unlocking even more stuff. I'm sure that playing this four player coop is an amazing experience with a ton of laughs to be had! I really do think that this game should have been a standalone game so four people didn't also have to own the original DR3 to play. It truly feels like a completely different game tho DR3.

Just like old arcade based games this DLC is based on repetitiveness, and as such it may tire on you as quickly as it becomes addictive. You need to set yourself in the more retrogaming mood to fully enjoy it and accept the way it makes you play levels over and over, constantly tempting you with beating the last highscore you banked. I would warmly recommend this wild and very different DLC for DR3 owners, it's a ton of fun and takes itself not very serious.



+ Plus points

  • Colourful, fun and with a load of retro easter eggs from Capcom titles.
  • Refreshing and original DLC content.
  • Annie has a Regina outfit from Dino Crisis.

- Minus points

  • The four levels makes the game repetitive quickly.
  • Should have been a standalone game.
  • Time limits are classic arcade, but a pain.

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