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LOS ANGELES — It wasn’t until Dead Rising 3 came on the screen before I was really sold on these next-generation consoles.
Halfway through Microsoft’s press conference at the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), it showed off the zombie-slaying action game. It’s under development from Capcom Vancouver and is due out in November with the Xbox One launch.
It looked good. It was huge in scale. And it looked fun.
But you could use those words to describe the last two Dead Risings as well. What’s different for this next-gen edition?
Looks that kill
Despite the intentionally cheeseball humor of the series — goofy characters, ridiculous outfits, over-the-top undead-slaying — Dead Rising 3 has a decidedly gritty, realistic look. The developers completely threw out the cartoony color palette from the previous games and exchanged it for a lot of brown and grays.
“The previous games had this crazy look,” Capcom art director Alan Jarvie told GamesBeat. “There’s only so far you could push in that direction before you want change. But also, it allows the player to make the game as crazy as they want to make it look without us forcing it on them. And we do want the zombies to be scary. I mean, they are the number-one enemy in the game. It’s hard to make them scary if the set around them doesn’t really match that scary feel. So we wanted more realistic zombies, and that said, they should be in more realistic worlds.”
All of this realism lives in a noticeably larger game. As you wander the open city, you can enter in and out of buildings and transition into different districts with literally no load times (of course, since this is still in development, that’s subject to change). The shopping malls and casino blocks from the last two games may have felt big at the time, but they’re no comparison. “Dead Rising 1 and 2 combined fit in [Dead Rising 3's] world,” said Capcom executive producer Josh Bridge. “And there’s still room to be had.”
And of course, more system memory means more zombies. They sometimes pack the streets so tightly, you just instinctively know you have to find another way around them. Or call in for heavy-duty backup.
A smart SmartGlass
Throughout E3, Microsoft was showing off SmartGlass, its tablet and smartphone application that complements Xbox 360 and Xbox One games in real time. During the show, we saw how it’ll be used for Dead Rising 3, and now we’re not so sure we’ll want to go on zombie hunts without it.
You can pull up a GPS-like map on the separate device to show your active location in the game. You can also use the map to search for something in the city — say, a gun store — mark it, then have it show up as a waypoint on your television screen.
You can also use powerups such as drones or artillery strikes that are exclusive to SmartGlass. In this manner, you can play Dead Rising 3 semi-cooperatively, with your partner using your iPhone to call for a hail of rockets to rain down on that thick mass of undead in front of you.
You’re Kinected to the game
The zombies in Dead Rising 3 can see you from farther away — but they can also hear better now, too. That means you’ll have to be careful when firing your gun, lest you draw more of them to you than you had intended. Most of the time, you don’t want the extra attention. So you might want to unplug your Kinect.
If on, the camera and voice-recognition peripheral will listen on behalf of the zombies. It will pick up any noise you make in real life and send it to the game, thus alerting the enemies to your location. “It could be kind of funny if you’re trying to play the game, and your mom comes in the room and yells, ‘What the hell are you doing? Clean up the room, and get a real job!’ [and wakes up the zombies].” said Bridge, laughing.