Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition
US: 5 Sep 2014
Dead Rising 3 is schlock. It aspires to be nothing more. It is not art, nor does it want to be.
This is a game with blood, carnage, sex, cheap laughs, and waves and waves and waves and waves and waves of zombies to burn, eviscerate, and bludgeon. This is the Robotron of 2014. A game about killing thousands, millions, and zillions of sprites on a screen using mostly one button, maybe two. There’s something in the plot about humans who are infected with the zombie virus refusing to register themselves with the government that is supposed to parallel the potential perils of the modern surveillance state or something like that. However, any sociopolitical message that this might impart is completely lost in the grisly fun of welding a machete to a sledgehammer and busting some zombie skulls. Anything that goes on in the cutscenes is less about messaging and more simply about justifying the reason for the game’s protagonist, Nick, to scavenge the detritus of the former city of Los Perdidos and to find inventive new ways to turn teddy bears, motor oil, and light machine guns into kickass munition systems.
Yes, Dead Rising 3 is schlock, and it is incredibly good at being schlock. It does schlock better than few other video games, movies, or comic books. It knows what it is, fails to apologize for it, and simply tries to execute on its premise as perfectly as possible.
None of this is really new information. I could comfortably say most of what I have said about both Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2. This is a series that revels in its ability to serve up copious amounts of gore within the context of an absurd universe that is at once macabre and at once as silly as hell. Dead Rising 3 continues in this tradition, upping the ante by getting more undead flesh onscreen at once and providing new absurdly stupid mechanisms to cut that flesh down in the simplest ways possible.
If anything has changed in the series, it is simplicity. While Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 are similarly unapologetically schlocky fun, they aren’t the easiest games in the world. Attempting to survive and maybe stem the zombie threat on the clock is the hallmark of the series. Likewise, attempting to do your best to try to save as many survivors as you can and maybe rid the world of a few psychos on the side interferes with the central goal, making using your time effectively and efficiently the biggest obstacle in the game, not the zombie threat.
Dead Rising 3 is nowhere near as difficult in terms of balancing how you spend your time and whether or not you can achieve your goals. The game is rife with new features that make the game more accessible and more easily conquerable for more casual players. You can craft weapons on the fly, the map marks important locations and collectibles that will help you build better weapons and level up faster, and your fellow survivors are much more adept at survival. Indeed, you can now reasonably create a posse of fellow survivors to bring along with you to fight the zombie hordes by your side, and they are durable enough to survive. Thus, a whole lot of the pressures of the previous games are relieved.
Personally, I find this ease of play to be the new title’s only notable weakness. Removing the tension and uniqueness of this playstyle, where time, not enemies become your greatest threat in a combat-oriented game, is kind of a bummer. I appreciate a game, especially a horror-themed game, that makes me feel some discomfort and anxiety about completing it.
All that being said, the newest iteration in the series remains pure schlocky bliss if you are willing to accept the fact that it aspires to nothing more than that. Dead Rising 3 is fun in the way that Evil Dead 2 is fun or Army of Darkness is fun. It knows what is and what it isn’t. And it loves being what it isn’t/ The game trades high minded themes for pure visceral amusement park thrill, evoking the pleasure of crunching bones and wearing silly outfits while doing so. Dead Rising 3 is all trailer trash style with no substance in sight. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
// Moving Pixels
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