It's no secret that the zombie infestation has greatly affected almost every form of media since the mid 2000's. From movies to games, we've seen the rise of iconic series such as Left 4 Dead and infamous zombie-mod turned standalone DayZ, to titles that fell short on their ambitions such as Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green. The list goes on and on.
Dead Rising in particular pulled me in when it launched in 2006. Being situated in a massive mall, its familiar setting brought the outbreak very close to home. Two things set the game apart from other zombie games before it. The first was the player's freedom to traverse all areas of the mall at will, rather than being locked to linear levels. The second was that - as time progressed - more and more zombies would make their way into the mall until the screen was filled with walking dead. The 2010 sequel boasted several improvements, particularly to the AI and the size of the playable area. With several offshoots in between, the third full game is finally here. Is it a worthy zombie title?
The City Of The Lost
Despite taking place in 2021, several years after the outbreaks in both the original and Dead Rising 2, tragedy has struck again. Dead Rising 3 begins with slowly recounting the initial hours of the latest outbreak in the city of Los Perdidos, California. The player takes control when he is put in the shoes of Nick Ramos, a mechanic scouting for a way out of the quarantined city. He is not alone, his friends and a group of survivors are trailing his every step. Things quickly go from bad to worse, as the one known route out of the city has been destroyed by the U.S. Army as a final fail-safe to contain the infection. Sticking to general zombie story protocol, the government has decided that the city will be nuked in a few short days.
As if things weren't bad enough, Nick suffers a bite from a zombie which raises tensions among the group for obvious reasons. He has only 5 days to get himself, his friends, and any other survivors he comes across out of the city.
Let loose into the map, players will find a map larger and more interactive than the two before. The four districts available to the player, and the roadways connecting them have all but nailed the chaos that one would expect from such a situation in a metropolitan area. There is no direct route to anything as streets are blocked by crashed buildings and other barriers. Some are only passable on foot and while you may be safer in your vehicle, daring to tread on foot will reap rewards as long as you keep an eye on your health. Taking a vehicle and mowing down hordes of zombies is fun in its own right - despite sluggish maneuvering - but if you want to experience the map to its fullest, you'll be on foot dodging down back alleys and side streets more than sticking to the main routes. Exploring houses, apartments, stores, restaurants, even taking a detour through the local high school and police station. While the outsides of the game capture the chaos, the insides of many of the buildings capture an eerie calm.
Dark interiors, blood soaked walls, it drives home the emphasis that the people that once were, are now either eaten or one of the ones doing the eating. At first, these scenes felt quite out of place for the series but they turned out to be a welcome change. The previous games offered their share of blood and gore, but most of the buildings remained surprisingly intact. As a result, you never really experienced the sense of being in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Dead Rising 3 retains the feeling of being a playground for killing zombies, but these moments of calm bring the serious side of the story to the foreground.
A decent sized map, foot exploration is rewarded, zombies galore and a relatable main character.
Bosses leave something to be desired, vehicles handle sluggishly, doesn't quite live up to the uniqueness or difficulty of a Dead Rising game.