Release: Out Now
Developer: Capcom Vancouver
Multiplayer: Online Co-op (2 players)
The city of Los Perdidos, a fictional riff on Los Angeles, has a serious zombie problem. Everywhere you look they're there, shuffling, shambling, and groaning. So it's a good thing you have over 300 objects to hit them with. Dead Rising's thing has always been its vast array of deadly, and silly, weapons, and the third game has taken this idea to new extremes.
You play as Nick Ramos, a mechanic who finds himself trapped in Los Perdidos with a group of other survivors. The government will be dropping a bomb on the city in five days, and you have to escape before they do. Dead Rising's other thing is giving you a time limit, but this is the most generous one yet—which actually works against it.
There was a real sense of urgency in the first two games, but Nick is comparatively time rich. You have plenty of time to explore the city, completing side quests, rescuing survivors, and hunting for weapons. The time pressure has taken such a back seat that the game feels like any number of other open world games, complete with uninspiring fetch quests and arbitrary collectables.
But back to hitting zombies. This is what makes Dead Rising special. Every weapon feels different, whether you're carving through the hordes with a chainsaw, lopping heads off with a broadsword, or mowing them down with a minigun. The sheer number of ways to massacre and toy with the zombies is impressive, and it always feels great thanks to the tactile, weighty combat.
Los Perdidos is, although smaller than a lot of open world settings, a pleasantly rich space. A huge amount of buildings can be entered, and their detailed interiors all contain unique weapons. Realism is not in Dead Rising's vocabulary, and there's a shop that inexplicably sells swords, axes, knives, and scythes. My face lit up when I found that place, for obvious reasons.
To make up for the increased size of the world, vehicles are littered generously around the map, including sports cars, bikes, vans, and, brilliantly, steamrollers. Nick, being a mechanic, can combine vehicles to create new, more deadly ones, like sticking the front of a steamroller onto a motorcycle. The combo weapon system is back too, allowing you to tape otherwise innocuous objects together to create monstrous, slapstick weapons.
Unlike Chuck and Frank, Nick doesn't have to find a workbench to create combo weapons. You can do it anywhere, but it leaves you open to attack, so it's a good idea to find a safe spot, like the top of a car or the roof of a building. Super combo weapons are new too, allowing you to add an extra object to regular ones to create something even more deadly. Combine a scythe and a katana and you get the Grim Reaper, a massive bladed weapon with a wide sweep and long reach. Then add a gasoline canister to create the Fire Reaper, which sets enemies ablaze.
Dead Rising 3 is a game that just wants you to have fun. It revels in its silliness, even when it's being serious. There's a cutscene where, after killing a human for the first time, Nick has a solemn moment of reflection—rendered accidentally hilarious by the fact that, at this point in the game, I had him wearing a child's superhero costume and a big comedy moustache.
While most of Dead Rising's best bits have carried over—the persistent XP system, the combo weapons, its sense of humour, the daft hats—some of the worst have too, namely the boss battles. They're long-winded, attritional slogs, and they're no fun, following repetitive and easily exploitable patterns. These, and the lazy sidequests, sour the experience.
Dead Rising 3 was, until recently, an Xbox One 'exclusive', and it's pretty clear that PC wasn't the primary development platform. This isn't one of Capcom's best ports. It's a system hog, and you'll need a substantial PC to run it on high settings. It's also locked to 30 frames per second out of the box, which makes the already slow, heavy combat feel even more sluggish.
You can, however, force 60 by creating a user.ini file in the same directory as deadrising3.exe and addinggmpcr_unlock_frame_rate=True to it, but this will hit your machine even harder. Those of you with older GPUs and CPUs might struggle to run the game at a decent frame rate, especially in busy areas like the freeways, which are clogged with thousands of zombies.
But if you have the horsepower, Dead Rising 3 is a riotous, imaginative, and brilliantly silly game. The dizzying wealth of weapons means the endless, bloody slaughter stays entertaining long after most other zombie games would have outstayed their welcome, and it has an endearing sense of humour, despite some dubious stereotyping that dances on the fringes of good taste.