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Xbox One Review: ‘Dead Rising 3′

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In six days, bombs will drop on Los Perdidos. This will maul thousands of droning undead who have sprouted in the wake of a zombie infestation. Or maybe Los Perdidos is being bombed because it’s revolting to see.

Capcom’s latest saps the Xbox One’s core to process visible lurching dead into the horizon line. Seeing them line up in patches with minuscule pop in is genuinely striking. This processing cost is destructive to other elements. Textures are smeary and definition sours, key characters rendered splotchy or indistinct. At a glance, Dead Rising 3 could be capably processed on a console you likely already own. Only zombies make a difference, and if they’re due to be bombed, textures will mercifully join them amongst the napalm.

These aesthetic decisions have impacted Dead Rising’s demeanor. Oddball adventures experienced by Frank West were housed by brightly lit mall interiors, showering scenery with colorful arrays of attractive goods. Los Perdidos is thematically gray, soured by yellowed greens to match the grossly rotting skin of its new residents. This no longer feels energized by percolating silliness.

What was conceived as a distinctly Japanese look at American culture (with uniquely Japanese design ideals) has completed a shift toward Westernized appeal. This explains a grittier vibe and touches of preposterous grindhouse cinema. DR3 is otherwise frustratingly serious in its direct narrative. There is no underlying satire and plot developments lean toward sweeping government corruption with limited touches of population control.

Capcom’s trilogy maker is aiming broader, ditching stringent, time-based mechanisms as it stretches visual appeal into the popularized realm of Walking Dead. There are six days to survive, developed across eight chapters. The need to run back and deliver items or lock down save points with clock restrictions are smartly deleted. Los Perdidos persists as a traditional open world, if one botched by frustrating debris blockages, creating path finding irritations in pressure situations.

Nick Ramos leads, a nice guy mechanic frazzled by his scenario yet carrying an insatiable lust to blast, slice, and splatter those who forget their dose of government sanctioned drug Zombrex. Ramos is trapped between finding survivors and trying to elevate DR3 over its glum exterior. He can wear afros or goofy glasseseven lingerieas he attempts to calm those he has teamed with. Cut scenes display an outlandishly-dressed, customized Ramos carrying serious discussion, sort of an interactive humor element. It’s funny if you want it to be. Unfortunately, the artistic support system crumbles and these dress-up hallmarks come across as out of place.

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Ramos can drive, snatching up vehicles which spawn to create impromptu pathways through undead congregations. You may double the chaos with combination vehicles, as if a steam roller on its own was not enough for this melee. Open-world visitations can speed up while creating inordinate amounts of potential for mayhem. Weapons crafted from blueprints become asinine concoctions of robotic teddy bears duct-taped to machine guns or electrified rakes. Imagination is applied to create these absurd sights, the Dead Rising spark which has otherwise gone astray.

DR3 is stuffy, compacted by its need to display record numbers of zombies. Ramos never feels planted, clumsy without necessary footing. Picking up items clustered together or in the midst of rushing hordes is infuriatingly imprecise. Compound this with the addition of human enemies touting grenades, rocket launchers, and assault rifles to further beat this ordeal into tapping out. By its finale, DR3 closes in on itself with arduous mission structure involving cross-map travels, forced AI partners, suddenly dwindling time limits, and no checkpoints. Elements at play fail to work with each other in tandem, a persistent fault which devastates any appeal by the game’s close.

Capcom has delivered a pop culture playland where it’s no fun to play. DR3 is tireless in its attempts to break identity and thus appeal. Traditional boss fights, one of the few held-over elements from the Japanese base, scrounge together nonsense to work. Without life, zombies disintegrate in basins of their own blood after few bullets or one battle ax swipe. Living human characters are assaulted with hundreds of rounds from guns and endless swipes from bladed weapons, walking away unscathed to further their story roles.

Under its surface, the prevailing idea exists that smashing brains while wearing pantyhose and a pajama top is consistently funny. Maybe it is for a time, but character development is not broad enough to be considered overly cliched, line delivery is authentic, designs are unimaginative, and casting a mechanic has none of the farcical appeal of a photographer risking his life for a story. Nick Ramos is merely another survivor. All zombie stories have those. What’s left is a visually repugnant open-world drama without notably eccentric flourishes or polishing factors. Contrast is lost and so is Dead Rising’s nutty heart.

Dead Rising 3 is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol .

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.