If you’re wondering what the must-have game for the Xbox One is, look no further than Dead Rising 3. No other game shows off the system’s potential than Capcom Vancouver’s ambitious zombie epic. It supports the system’s new Kinect device but in the right way. It cleverly uses Smartglass to give players a deeply immersive experience. No other title I played at Microsoft’s recent Xbox One preview event was as forward-thinking as this project.
Capcom Vancouver could have traveled down the well-worn path of making a franchise bigger and grander. The technology was there to support a zombified Grand Theft Auto. The team did that with Los Perdidos, a city inspired by Los Angeles that has been overwhelmed by the undead. Developer Matt Louie said the world of Dead Rising 3 was three times bigger than the original and Dead Rising 2 combined.
The hero Nick Ramos talks with other survivors.
WELCOME TO LOS PERDIDOS: A world that large is too big to traverse on foot, so Capcom Vancouver included plenty of vehicles for protagonist Nick Ramos to drive. There are cars, motorcycles and heavy machinery but the more interesting thing is that players can combine these vehicles to create death machines that chew up walkers on the roadway. For example, an ambulance and a bulldozer creates something called Shockdozer that spits out electricity while crushing the undead.
Making these combinations is fairly easy as Nick, who is a mechanic, can do all this jerry-rigging on the fly. The work benches that were required in the previous game are gone. It allows players to explore the full arsenal of 300 base weapons and more than 100 combo and supercombo armaments. Players can make what’s essentially a lightsaber with gems and a flashlight. When it comes to supercombo weapons, these are combination weapons that can be upgraded further. For example, a street light and other materials creates a staff that can spew out fire. Players can add more items to the weapon turning it into a wizardly elemental staff that can shoot out ice and electricity elements as well.
To help Nick out, players earn Prestige Points when killing zombies. Those points level him up and he can use them to get stronger melee attacks or smarts so that he gains Prestige Points faster. One upgrade cuts down the number of zombies he needs to kill to unleash a special kill move for his weapon at hand. There’s even a perk that allows him to MacGyver a weapon together if a needed item falls into one of 22 weapon categories. For example, players specifically need gems and a flashlight to make that light sword. But Nick, with an upgrade, can work around that and use, say, a computer monitor and gems to make the same item. It’s very useful.
The psychos are back and they’re as tough as ever.
STREET FIGHTER CONNECTION: When it comes to weapons, some of my favorite involve Street Fighter characters. I saw two that will be first ones I make provided I find the blueprints. One is a Blanka mask combined with a battery that lets players mimic the brawler’s famous moves. The other weapon is a boxing glove combined with a motor that lets players perform Ryu’s familiar Dragon Punch.
With Nick boasting plenty of these new weapons, Capcom Vancouver had to introduce stronger enemies. Some of those come in the familiar psychos and roving gangs loitering around Los Perdidos. The more interesting foe comes in the form of themed zombies such as police officers, firefighters or football players who still remember parts of their past and act accordingly. Undead cops shoot randomly at Nick. Firefighters are fireproof while linebackers will tackle players to the ground. There’s also a King Bee Zombie, a human infected by the disease-carrying bugs. They explode when Nick is near them.
Nick battles Diego in one of the memorable boss fights in the game.
THOSE NEXT-GEN FEATURES: Those improvements alone would make a successful sequel but Capcom Vancouver took advantage of the Xbox One’s unique feature set. It uses the Kinect in scenarios where a zombie grabs Nick and he must push them away. Instead of mashing buttons to knock the undead off, players can jerk their controller up and it does the same thing. Meanwhile, on boss fights, players can taunt their foe into attacking. The Kinect will pick up on their voice.
The bigger “wow” moment comes with Smartglass. Downloading the app turns a player’s smartphone into an in-game one. They’ll receive phone calls on their personal device similar to what Otis did on the walkie talkie in Dead Rising. Friends will alert them to people who are stranded and need to be saved. They can use the in-game phone apps to find their way around using the Map or mark out waypoints. They can even find special in-game apps that lets Nick call in missile strikes or snipers to take out foes.
It all works so seamlessly, and combined, Smartglass and the Kinect bring a new level of immersion into gaming. There are so many ideas that are outside the box that it feels fresh. The only thing that gives me pause is Dead Rising 3’s difficulty. The game gives players more leeway to explore Los Perdidos with five in-game days, but the boss fights like the one against Diego look to be difficult. If that weren’t enough, the game features a Nightmare mode that has a more compressed time element for those who want the experience to be closer to the original.
Images courtesy of Microsoft
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