Dead Rising 3 (PC) Apocalypse Edition review: The zombie apocalypse, now with silly hats

dead rising 3 wrestler
At a Glance
  • Capcom Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition

    PCWorld Rating

    Dead Rising 3 sheds its Xbox One launch title shackles and makes it over to PC, but neither the port nor the game will necessarily wow you.

I remember before Dead Rising 3 came out, people were worried that it was "too serious." They looked at the grey-green color scheme, the self-serious (and incredibly generic) protagonist, and the fake Los Angeles setting and thought "This doesn't look like my wacky Dead Rising game."

I think of these words with particular irony as I fight a molotov-throwing biker gang, whose leader is decked out in Confederate flags and drives some sort of motorcycle/steamroller hybrid. Oh, and I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt, a mustache fit for only the seediest 70s movies, and an enormous afro while wielding a shotgun duct-taped to a machete.

Yeah, this game is clearly "Schindler's List" levels of serious.

dead rising 3 bull suit

Yeah, I'm pointing at moo.

Back from the dead

Dead Rising 3 has finally made it to PC as an "Apocalypse Edition" with four DLC episodes included, a year after the game debuted as an Xbox One exclusive launch title. I feel like Dead Rising 3 became the de facto Xbox One game in those early days because...well, yeah, there was nothing else to play.

Launch titles tend to get a pass because they're launch titles, whether that's warranted or not. People are excited about the new generation of hardware! They'll finally (sometimes) get to experience the glory of 1080p! I bought this stupid box so I guess I should have something to play on it!

Separate from its status as a launch title, however, does Dead Rising 3 hold up? Sort of.

I'll say this, first: Capcom's PC port is merely serviceable. You're probably not going to run into a ton of problems, but it's also not incredible. The game is capped at 30 frames per second for who knows what reason, but even our ultra-official-public-relations-review-email had the following instructions:

"Note that the game is capped at 30FPS but if you would like to mess with that, create a “user.ini” file which contains a single line: “gmpcr_unlock_frame_rate = True” (no quotes) and place it in the same folder as deadrising3.exe before running the game"

If reviewers are handed official instructions to unlock the frame rate, I don't know why this couldn't have been included. Unlocking the frame rate dealt with some of the issues I had with the game hitching as new areas loaded and didn't seem to introduce new problems, but unlock at your own risk as always.

dead rising 3 car

Vehicles return in Dead Rising 3.

The options menu is robust, with plenty of settings to tweak. You can, for instance, run the game at 1080p but render it at 720p. There's also a needlessly arbitrary "Level of Detail" slider that I can't figure out.

I will say that Capcom did a good job scaling the game to run on low-end hardware, speaking from first-hand experience. I've been up in Seattle for PAX so I did most of the review on an old Origin laptop. Even with hundreds of zombies on-screen, this ol' Origin (which runs a 460m graphics card) kept up on a blend of low/medium settings.

Tonality

Okay, with the official PC business done let's talk about Dead Rising 3: The Video Game. I have never completed the first two Dead Rising games because I couldn't stomach the idea of restarting a game multiple times in order to get past the stupid time limit Capcom put in. I just wanted to play the damn game.

Dead Rising 3 lets me be a baby and just play the game. Hooray! There's still an ultra-annoying time limited mode for all of you who like that, but for the person (me) who just wants to play through the story without developing an ulcer there's now a more forgiving mode with gentler time constraints.

That's good thing number one.

dead rising 3 flame sword

Now that's a combo weapon. And a fashion statement.

Good thing number two: The weapon combo system is still fantastic. Dead Rising's biggest claim to fame has always been its item system—basically anything you see in the world can be picked up and used to fight zombies. Some things are more effective, i.e. crowbars, guns, 2x4s, wrenches. Other things, like enormous stuffed teddy bears or handbags, not so much.

Dead Rising 2 introduced the idea of combining two weapons into something even crazier, and that system makes a return in Dead Rising 3. It's especially great because items that seem useless become a huge deal when combined. Running down the street with a dragon head/parasol combo that spits fire or throwing a teddy-bear-strapped-with-assault-rifles into a crowd of zombies are the moments that make life worth living in a zombie apocalypse.

But it's also this insanity that still makes Dead Rising 3 feel at odds with itself. Those "It's so serious" complaints? Well, they weren't entirely off-base. Your character, Nick, apparently doesn't understand what laughter is and spends the game in various states of panic. The story goes some real dark places—like when a biker gang grabs the sole woman in your group and tries to sexually assault her—and yet when the camera pans back there's Nick standing in a florid Hawaiian shirt with a pornstache.

dead rising 3 why so serious

WHY SO SERIOUS?

It's weird and a bit discomfiting, this blend of disparate tones, and makes me wish Dead Rising 3 would take a page from Saints Row (or even past Dead Rising games) and lean into the humor. Dead Rising is the most video gamey of video games. It even has boss fights, for crying out loud. Buckling a fantastic zombie-killing game on to this self-serious story adds unnecessary baggage, and I found myself wandering the streets finding collectibles and killing zombies far more often than I was inclined to finish another story mission.

Bottom line

You know, I'll say this: Out of all the console launch titles last year, Dead Rising 3 has probably held up the best in the ensuing year. Like, is anyone pumped to play Knack again? Or Zoo Tycoon? Dead Rising 3 is a solid game, with a solid PC port.

Just don't pay attention to the story. And make sure you unlock that frame rate.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Dead Rising 3 sheds its Xbox One launch title shackles and makes it over to PC, but neither the port nor the game will necessarily wow you.

    Pros

    • Tons of zombies on-screen at once
    • Silly item combinations

    Cons

    • Awkward tonal shifts
    • Frame rate locked at 30fps
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