Two more of the Xbox One’s launch titles go under the microscope, but is Dead Rising’s zombie-killing or Forza 5’s street-racing worth getting a new console for?
As you’ll see from our forthcoming interview with Sony Europe boss Jim Ryan almost everyone seems willing to admit that in terms of actual new game announcements Microsoft put on the better show at E3. But was it a case of quantity over quality, and are games like Dead Rising 3 and another Forza Motorsport really what fans are looking for from the Xbox One? Hopefully these previews will make it easier to judge just that…
Dead Rising 3
There are many dangers in a publisher agreeing to make their game a format exclusive, but one of the more embarrassing is when people immediately ask why. Although the game itself is untested Titanfall’s pedigree made it almost inevitable that either Microsoft or Sony would try to swoop for it. However, a new Dead Rising is a less predictable choice.
As developer Capcom Vancouver (née Blue Castle Games) points out though the original Dead Rising was originally an Xbox 360 exclusive, although considering the PlayStation 3 hadn’t even been released back in August 2006 that doesn’t seem an entirely fair point. But whatever the politics and money-hatting that may have gone on behind the scenes at least fans now have a third game on one system at least.
We think they’re going to be happy about that, but the truth is this is a very different game from the Japanese-made original. In fact it’s hard to think of any franchise that has changed so much over such a short period of time, while still keeping the same central premise.
That means that Dead Rising 3 is still an open world zombie game, this time set in the entirety of the fictional city of Los Perdidos, California and starring new character Nick Ramos. At the behind closed doors demo we’re not told much about his background, or the wider story, other than that he’s a car mechanic. Although leaks from a few years ago, which have so far turned out to be 100 per cent accurate, suggest there might be some kind of social commentary about immigration.
That sounds a bit heady for a series that’s most famous for allowing you to put its main character in a dress and ride around on a kid’s tricycle but unfortunately one of Dead Rising 3’s big new ideas is to take itself seriously. Not The Last Of Us kind of serious, since Nick does seem to have some sort of sense of humour and there’s lots of over-the-top weapons, but the noticeably darker colour palette and lack of dresses does speak of a game that seems strangely eager to ditch one of its most defining features.
Various members of the dev team were on hand to discuss the game and they insisted that the wackiness is still there if you look for it, but evidently not in the hands-off demo we see (which is identical to the one from the Xbox media briefing, even down to the demonstrator timing his attacks at the same time).
We can at least see that the game is running on an actual Xbox One, not a PC, but when we try to push for why Dead Rising 3 is an exclusive at all we get no satisfying answer. There certainly doesn’t seem to be any technical reason and Capcom Vancouver come perilously close to admitting it’s simply because Microsoft paid for the privilege.
We also voice our concern that the problem with Dead Rising 3 is that it’s all good fun messing around killing zombies, but the structure is so loose that once you actually settle down to play the game it’s not actually all that much fun. Although the devs are good enough to admit these issues they’re still a little vague on what exactly they’re going to do about it, but we’re immediately promised that escort missions will not be as frustrating as before.
There’s also no loading anywhere in Dead Rising 3, despite the game world being ‘many times’ larger than the first two games. As a result cars and other vehicles are now much more vital to both getting around and using as a weapon. There’s also no time pressures, plus an autosave that is a world away from the purposeful restrictions of the original.
There is a ‘Nightmare Mode’ for masochist fans though, which re-institutes all the limitations of the original including the time limit and only being able to save in toilets.
We suspect that the developers are right though and that few people will actually use this option, preferring instead to take the easy route to the game’s 400-odd weapons. As before these will require blueprints to craft, but can be constructed on the fly – from adding a sledgehammer to the bottom of a chainsaw to electrifying a machete.
Your inventory and other abilities can all be managed via Xbox SmartGlass, with some only being available if you have a smartphone or tablet. The example in the demo is an artillery strike that you can only call in if you have a mobile device (the conceit is that Nick’s found a smartphone within the game that belongs to some sort of government agent).
Dead Rising 3 is a decent looking game, but we’re not sure we’d go much further than that at the moment – in terms of either graphics or design. The hundreds of different zombies on screen is impressive but despite claims that the game can render an infinite number of zombies at once there’s also some noticeable slowdown already.
The bigger question though is whether the world needs another (mostly) serious zombie game. Given that far worse games than Dead Rising have already been a success merely because they’ve got the undead in them we suppose the answer is probably that it does. But even so it’s hard to see this as the Xbox One’s most enticing exclusive.