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Dead Rising has done a little growing up since we last saw it. With the franchise now under Microsoft’s umbrella, the acquisition brings a grittier, darker feel—but don’t fret too much super fans, you can still dress the brand-new protagonist in women’s garments if you desire. The focus, however, has certainly shifted towards more of a kill-or-be-killed fight for survival. Exclusively launching as an Xbox One title, Dead Rising 3 certainly has the potential to influence sales. Some of the biggest additions this time around? A heavily populated city with four distinctive districts, an updated weapon-building mechanic, and intelligent zombie hordes that react to changes in the environment.
Both Capcom and Microsoft were reluctant to hand over the controller, so it’s hard to know exactly how it feels to traverse the new environment. Instead, I was shown as an extended gameplay presentation where developers walked though a carefully planned out, scripted route.
The new leading man, Nick Ramos, is a mechanic who happens to be one of the very few survivors of a devastating outbreak. (Sound familiar?) With his mechanical background, Nick has the ability to assemble weapon combos on the fly—assuming you’ve found the blueprints to do so. They’ve managed to streamline the gameplay in this regard, since you’re no longer forced to search high and low for maintenance sheds.
Dead Rising 3 also has three times more zombies onscreen than before—though the frame-rate struggled under the added pressure to perform. After watching the demo on two separate occasions, it’s worth noting screen tearing and a very poor framerate plagued an otherwise flawless presentation.
On a more positive note, your undead enemies are much smarter and more agile than before, and they won’t simply just amount to mere fodder for you to chew through. Fireman zombies, for example, are tougher than your average walking corpse, and come equipped with armor. They’re also armed with axes and will fight back if you get too close. Of course, you could always fire off a flare from a flare gun and watch as the horde becomes hypnotized by the sudden appearance of a bright light—ultimately giving you a free pass to cross an otherwise crowded street.
Still, Dead Rising 3 looks very promising, and is certainly on the fast track in the right direction. However, it needs some more time in the technical kitchen to clean up some of its performance issues.