Dead Rising 3 review

Dead Rising 3 returns players to the zombie apocalypse on next-gen

Reasons to buy
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    Zombie Apocalypse

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    Amusing weapons

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    Genuinely frightening at times

Reasons to avoid
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    …genuinely stupid at others

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    Rubbish boss battles

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    Inconsistent tone

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Dead Rising 3 puts players into a sea of zombies on this Xbox One exclusive next-gen title. T3 got tooled up with daft weapons and jumped in

If Dead Rising 3 proves one thing it's this: if the zombie apocalypse ever comes, you stand a hell of a lot more chance at surviving if you know how to weld things together. Unlike fellow undead-themed series like Left 4 Dead or Zombie U, the Dead Rising game have, in the past put a premium on the player's willingness to explore their environments in order to find interesting weapons.

Dead Rising 2 upped the ante by allowing them to combine items to make amusing weapons – like twin chainsaws taped to a kayak paddle – and now here comes Dead Rising 3, which allows both weapon and vehicle customisation. It also features the biggest open world yet to appear in a Dead Rising title and a vast sea of zombies.

Dead Rising 3: Plot

The story of Dead Rising 3 has a new protagonist – a mechanic named Nick – some new characters and a new setting, but its narrative beats will be familiar to anyone who enjoys post-apocalyptic (zombie or otherwise) fiction.

Civilisation as we know it has been eradicated by a zombie infestation and survivors have to pick their way across the wreckage. Naturally, the biggest danger to survival isn't just the marauding undead, it's other survivors whose morals and objectives are, to put it lightly, highly questionable.

It's the same content as the previous two Dead Rising games, although Capcom Vancouver has gone for a far more gritty and sombre atmosphere.

Whereas the last two iterations in this series riffed on the films of George A Romero and early Sam Raimi, Dead Rising 3's overall tone chimes more with that of the the AMC series, The Walking Dead. There's a palpable sense of despair and gloom over all the proceedings and the characters' desperation can be felt through nearly every line of dialogue.

Dead Rising 3: Characters

The weird thing is, the tone is by no means consistent throughout, and the gearshifts can be jarring. One moment, the player will be picking their way through a sewer filled with corpses that suddenly come to life and start crowding them and the next they'll be fighting a leather clad dominatrix who just happens to head up the government security forces.

READ: Best Xbox One games: The ultimate list

Dead Rising 3 has a lot to say about state-power in the hands of the wrong people, but it also contains a character standing on zombie-filled bridge that refuses to be rescued unless it's in a customised car.

One could argue that we're taking all of this a bit seriously – after all, this is a game where the protagonist can weld a steamroller's front wheel onto a motorcycle, transforming the vehicle into zombie-crushing trike.

But the pervading atmosphere of doom and desperation makes the sillier moments – which include fashioning a firearm that fires dildos out of a vacuum – seem more incongruous.

Dead Rising 3: Gameplay

However, this inconsistency is by no means a deal-breaker, and if you're prepared to look past it, Dead Rising 3 is one of the most fun launch titles on the Xbox One. This owes a large debt to the city environment in the game, which is packed to the rafters with activities to do and items to uncover.

Every store, every building and every open door is worth exploring just in case the player manages to find a set of blueprints for a new weapon – the ingredients for which are usually close to hand.

Best of all, players no longer need to find a workbench to make these implements of death; Nick can create hardware on the fly. He can do the same for vehicles, too.

Early on the game, the Nick comes across a cell-phone that allows another survivor one-way communication with him – the mic in the phone is busted – and will toss him side-missions that usually involve finding other survivors and doing mini-quests for them.

Players will also notice stranded folk surrounded by zombies and they can help them out (or not) by clearing the undead around them.

Every weapon the player makes, quest they complete, every side mission they do and every zombie they kill earns Nick XP, which they can feed into a couple of talent trees – making him stronger, better with ranged weapons, better at melee and so forth. There are also a series of Easter Eggs in the map in the form of statues, which can be collected.

Dead Rising 3: Features

Oh and there are zombies. Lots of them. Thousands of them, in fact. Capcom Vancouver claim that, thanks to the Xbox One's processing power, Dead Rising 3 can render three-times the amount of shuffling, snarling undead on screen than its predecessors could.

Having spent a couple of days wandering around the game's urban hellhole map, we can confirm that the zombies are everywhere and they're usually gathered together in large masses.

There's the odd alley or thoroughfare where just three or four are hanging around, but main junctions and strip malls are teaming with the buggers. It's worth sticking to car rooftops if you can. Or running over them in a car. Just saying.

Dead Rising 3: Verdict

Dead Rising 3 is worthy successor to the games that precede it and a rather strong launch title in its own right. It has a couple of issues – not least a some of the boss battles, which are annoying wars of attrition – but Dead Rising 3 is some of the most fun you can have on a next-gen console at the moment. Just remember the zombie apocalypse is coming. If you want to survive it, be like Nick – and Nathan Fillion – and learn some useful tradecraft skills.

Dead Rising 3 release date: 22 November 2013

Dead Rising 3 price: £44.99 (at

Nick Cowen

Nick Cowen studied Classical Civilisations and English at the University of Witwatersrand and joined T3 as Editor at Large, writing about subjects including video games, gaming hardware, gadgets and consoles. You'll also find plenty of content by Nick on about video game industry events and shows.