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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Dead Rising 3.

TranscriptEdit

If you're noticing that these reviews have had more of an Xbox One leaning in this, the dawn of what I must now refer to as "Current Gen" as the phrase turned spiky and bitter in my throat, then well spotted, Field Marshal Observant, have a chip! I've had a bit of trouble getting a PS4, they're like bars of soap in the bath carved into very boring shapes. But everything seems to indicate that in the tradition of every console released in the last decade, both the PisS and the 'Bone are probably going to need a bit more time before they're worth getting. Thirty or forty years might be a good start!

Yes, I am bitter actually, 'cos my TV's run out of HDMI ports, and I had to unplug my Elgato to get the XBone in! I know, where's my fucking Live Aid? But I digress.

Dead Rising 1 was an Xbox exclusive, Dead Rising 2 was not, Dead Rising 3 is again. What a little strumpet you've gotten involved in, Microsoft. Have you asked what happened to Mister GameCube and his open-quotes "exclusive" relationship with Resident Evil 4? Capcom just ain't the marrying type, she's just gonna turn her moony eyes elsewhere when she sees your graphics all popping in like the top of a jam jar.

Dead Rising 3 establishes very little at the start, but then it hardly needs to. In an intro sequence straight out of the cutting corners playbook - i.e., some close-ups of the world map intercut with text dumps - the game essentially tells us, "Zombies show up in a city, and you basically know the rest." Who'd have thought that writing a zombie apocalypse story would start feeling creatively stifling? Later on of course, we learn that someone started it all on purpose. I'd spoiler that, but it was spoiled well enough by the words "Dead Rising" on the front of the box. Hey, Capcom villains, zombie viruses do not make good superweapons! What's easier to occupy, a city of people shopping and mowing the lawn or a city of murderers with a bite transmittable virus and no ambition in life except to bite things?

Our protagonist is Nick Ramos (Ray-mos, ra-MOS, look this up later) who in contrast to the squinty self-serving morally flexible meatheads heading previous games, is a wide-eyed awkward nice boy who wants to help, which gets a little bit incongruous when it cuts back to gameplay and he starts cracking skulls with a washing machine on the end of a dildo or whatever. So the combo weapons from Dead Rising 2 are back, in fact mostly the same combo weapons. Not that I want the game to think that being the launch title of a major new console obliges it to put some fucking effort in.

Now Dead Rising 2's combo system was a high maintenance sort of broad. (Why am I feminising everything this week? Perhaps it's time I started online dating again.) You can only make combos at a workbench and you had to use the exact right items the recipe called for. It wasn't one of those crafting systems that puts out after ten pin bowling and a Happy Meal. But Dead Rising 3 will take everything that it can get. "Oh, you don't want to go to a workbench? Just make combos where you stand. Oh, you don't have the right items? Just buy an upgrade that lets you use the same items in the right category. Oh, you don't even want to craft? Just go to a weapons locker and fill your inventory with clones of any item you've touched, glanced at or heard about. Then perhaps I can put on some stocking suspenders and bring you a selection of mixed drinks and nibbles. Do you love me yet?"

Previously, Dead Rising has been characterised by fairly meaty challenge and now it's gone a bit salad-y. I can go into every boss fight with three combo assault rifles and fucking take them apart like abstract art. Although in the last game, you could make the combos without the blueprint whereas now you can't, which makes things a lot less organic. If you run out of weapons, you can't just duck into a machine shop and start desperately rubbing things together hoping for the best, because Nick is unconvinced of the usefulness of taping a sledgehammer to a fire axe until he finds a random piece of paper on the ground attesting to it.

When you find a combo blueprint, the necessary items are always lying right next to it so you build it once right there and afterwards you can summon it endlessly from the weapons locker cornucopia. So there's no room for experimentation. The game comes alive during one boss fight towards the end when all your items are gone and you have to scramble around a burning building trying to find a happy marriage for a sledgehammer while the zombies offer you no helpful advice whatsoever, but otherwise it's too easy to load yourself up and things get dull pretty fast. Zombies become as stacks of forms to a data-entry clerk, a thing to be swiftly processed, shouldered past or occasionally attacked by a flamethrower.

I should mention there are combo vehicles now, and I'm not so proud that I can't admit that ploughing through uncountable hordes of the undead in a motorbike-steamroller didn't make me titter like a schoolgirl riding a bike with a knobbly saddle. But Dead Rising sort of has a history of deliberately unintuitive map design. Roadblocks are placed for no particular reason except to make you take the scenic route, and it's impossible to get a good fast zombie-crushing groove going when I had to bring the sodding map up every fifty yards to make sure I haven't taken the wrong alleyway, and the roads are littered with unusable cars like the front garden at your in-laws' house.

Oh, and if you've got NPCs following, then vehicles are fresh hell with a fuzzy dice. Firstly, more than one follower means finding a four-door vehicle 'cos the selfish dicks refuse to form human pyramids on a motorbike, and then once you've found one, you get to sit in the drivers sear meeping the horn while your followers attempt to unravel the mystery of the car door handles while zombies are bashing up the paintwork so that the thing explodes the moment that you do set off 'cos the cars are made of corrugated cardboard and oily rags. I wouldn't mind, but NPCs latch onto you like a bad smell after most side-missions and there's no way to scrape them off without taking them to a safehouse. At one point, I tried to get into the spirit of things and gave a combo assault rifle to the mouht-breathing hanger-on of the moment, but the very next boss mission I went into, it told me to piss off and come back alone. Perhaps the true challenge is to maintain the desire to bother saving people in which case they pull that off pretty fucking well.

So in summary, it's a game of many petty niggles. Here's fun: drop three items next to each other then try to pick the one you want under pressure. That's how, at one point, I fought my way out of a horde and found myself clutching a traffic cone that I thought was my electric firestaff. But Dead Rising is a series built on petty niggles, usually balanced by cathartis, a variety of challenges and a certain vibrant levity, all of which feel lacking in this game. And the plot's a half-hearted parade of uninteresting people turning evil for stupid reasons, but then that's the entirety of the Capcom guide to plot writing, isn't it? "Step one: Someone turns evil for a stupid reason. Step 2: Boulder punching!"

Addenda:Edit

  • Dead, but not dead enough: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • I'd mention what Capcom gets up to with Marvel behind your back, Microsoft, but I like to think I have some class
  • Sourced from the corpse of a horse of course

ScreenshotsEdit

Zero Punctuation - 326 - Dead Rising 3.mp4 snapshot 01.31 -2014.01.13 14.42.20-

What's easier to occupy, a city of people shopping and mowing the lawn...

Zero Punctuation - 326 - Dead Rising 3.mp4 snapshot 01.34 -2014.01.13 14.42.43-

...or a city of murderers with a bite transmittable virus and no ambition in life except to bite things?

Zero Punctuation - 326 - Dead Rising 3.mp4 snapshot 03.22 -2014.01.13 14.42.56-

I should mention there are combo vehicles now.

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
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2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
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Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

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