The original Dead Rising was one of the first showpiece titles for XBOX360 back in 2006 so it seems fitting that Dead Rising 3 would be present at launch for XBOX One. Of course, the original game was developed by Capcom’s internal studio in Japan while Dead Rising 2 was shifted to a new developer, Blue Castle Games, in Vancouver. Blue Castle, now known as Capcom Vancouver, continues to helm the franchise with this new title.
Let's break the ice, shall we?
Unlike the previous games, however, Dead Rising 3 is a proper open world experience. The developers on hand stressed that the game would never resort to a loading screen. The demo we were shown, then, provided a more complete look at those open world elements. Set late at night, we see mechanic Nick Ramos taking on hordes of zombies across a large urban environment with a look at new weapons, vehicles, and crafting options. As a mechanic, Nick can now craft weapons and items on the go without needing to resort to a workbench at any point. Furthermore, this crafting now extends to vehicles and food. That’s right, scarf down a combo of ham and whiskey and you’ll have access to the “spitfire” attack.
The sense of scale and level of detail on display were certainly impressive as well. Entire shopping areas, hotels, and other full size buildings were immediately accessible and very destructible. The focus on breakable materials allows the player to cruise right through a jewelry shop, for instance, smashing everything inside while doing so. They’ve even managed to include velocity based physics for certain objects. Drive your vehicle through a glass window and watch as glass particles fly realistically forward in relation to your motion. Simply smashing the glass by hand yields a completely different effect in comparison.
At breakneck speed
As you’d expect from an open world city, vehicles litter the street and Nick can climb into any of them. The demo showcased a number of different vehicles ranging from small cars, with zombies realistically clinging to the side as you drove, to large steamrollers and armored SUVs. Thanks to the new vehicle crafting options you can also slap on a gun turret or some other tool of destruction to further increase your zombie killing potential. The developers also demonstrated a fair number of new weapons including a number of Street Fighter themed items, such as a Blanka mask, which allowed for associated moves. Oh, and the five barrel gun gloves known as “jazz hands”. Crafting was always a big part of the series and they’re allowing for more options than ever before. Alas there is no evidence of the camera mechanic returning though PP is at least present and serves as the backbone for the new stat system.
After harassing the local zombie population we were shown one of the available safe houses which, of course, could be accessed without visiting a loading screen. Micromanagement is no longer required when it comes to helping survivors overcome the final challenge in the form of lengthy loading screens in Dead Rising 2. As expected then, survivors also make a comeback in Dead Rising 3 and, once you’ve saved someone, they can be called to your side at any point. For instance, in our demo, the developers called out one such survivor to man the gun turret on a modded construction vehicle providing extra fire power while cruising the streets. Survivors can be ordered around using the d-pad, of course, but they’ve also included Kinect features into the mix allowing you to use voice commands to control their actions not unlike Binary Domain. Of course, they were very clear that all Kinect features were completely optional. The safe house is useful for more than managing survivors, however. For instance, each weapon that you construct or find in the game can be added to a weapons locker while costumes can be swapped around here as well.
The forbidden fruit
Then we have the second screen experience aspect of the game. Demonstrated using the Smartglass app on a Windows 8 tablet, this feature served as an additional way to receive missions and communicate with other survivors. For instance, a survivor in need can actually call your tablet or smartphone requiring you to answer just as you would an actual phone call. According to the developers on hand, there are a number of missions which are exclusive to this Smartglass feature which, as it stands, is available for use on Windows and iOS devices.
As open and ambitious as the game might be, we’re closing in on the launch of XBOX One and the performance needs a lot of work. While the developers are aiming for 30 fps, this 4 week old build spent a great deal of time under 20 fps with severe screen tearing occurring at almost all times. At this stage, the framerate was completely unlocked often jumping from the low teens up to 60 fps in tight, empty corridors. Still, the level of detail is fairly impressive and the new deferred lighting engine allows for a more dynamically lit experience. While they claim to receive a lot of support from Microsoft as a result of their location, the results do not yet speak for themselves and we can only hope that they pull it together for launch.
Despite these issues, there’s no doubt that the new open world nature of the game is what many of us have always hoped Dead Rising could have been. The sheer variety of available options to the player combined with the massive world and huge zombie counts shows a lot of promise. There’s no doubt that building a game of this scope for the launch of a console is a tall order and we can only hope that they are able to pull it off. I feel that what they have on hand, despite its sometimes generic appearance, is exciting enough to warrant a delay past launch if the performance issues are not ironed out. Releasing the game in its current state would ruin its potential.