Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition

The California city of Los Perdidos is unable to escape the reality of the zombie apocalypse. Once again, a seemingly controlled situation has devolved into reigning chaos as advanced technological counter-measures are no match against greedy human nature. Zombrex Chips meant to keep the infection in check have failed. Meant to work without forcing the unfortunate afflicted to depend on manual serum administration, an intentional malfunction has started a new outbreak. With no choice left, the military will bomb the site of the new hellish nightmare is about to begin. With seven days left before the big kaboom, can you save yourself and your friends? Join me for the third installment of gruesome graphics, heart-pumping action and wacky dark comedy and gameplay mechanics as I delve into Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition.

Having played Dead Rising 2 on PC, I knew what to expect from this title. Being stuck in a chaotic environment chock-full of flesh eating zombies with nothing but your wits and will to survive is just what one needs to kick the gear in motion. Speaking of gears, the protagonist this time is a bona-fide mechanic with experience in “fixing stuff.” Nick Ramos worked with his boss in a garage when the disaster struck, and with his practical experience and a bit of help from conveniently scattered blueprints, he can combine any two seemingly mundane and inoffensive objects into a deadly arsenal worthy of any action hero; yes, it’s time to bring back all those sweet weapon combos. But what sets this guy apart from Frank West and Chuck Greene? Why, vehicle combos!

In Dead Rising 3, players can expect every mechanic from the previous games to return. Some of them, in my opinion, have improved. The newest and best addition is the ability to combine two vehicles into a new mass-murdering gas-guzzling hunk-‘o-junk. Is your motorcycling around Los Perdidos lack that magical amount of oomph? No more! Welding torch in hand, trusty ‘ol Nick will attach a tremendous looking steam roller to your bike, and even give it a sweet patriotic paint job to boot. Did you ever wish to have fire exhausts in front of your bike too? He’ll tack ‘em on too! Now get going, sweet flaming gore doesn’t make itself.

I liked how simplified this iteration of the franchise turned out to be. Nick, having tools on hand and the experience, can produce weapon combinations on the spot without the aid of a work bench, provided he isn’t killed by the rampant crowds of enemies while doing so. He can also clean out Safe Houses which can later be visited to organize his crusades around Lost Perdidos with a lot less running around the clock. Each Safe House provides you with a Clothes Locker that lets you customize your appearance instantly (even keeping track of completed outfits!), Weapon Lockers that contain every kind of weapon you’ve picked up at least once (including combos!), and a bulletin board that lets you manage your survivor passé! Gone are the days of painstakingly watching over a ticking clock while carefully managing the resources to make your favorite weapons and test them against the horde. By unlocking a single Safe House, the hours of fun will not be cut short because you spent too many hours scrounging around for that pair of gloves that simply refuses to appear.

Further on, leveling up is now directly controlled by the player. Attribute points are acquired per PP level (with bigger earnings as you reach certain milestones) and by clearing chapters. They can be applied to any one of the character attributes or combo proficiency. To elaborate further, not only are you personally involved in the growth of your character, but you can also purchase proficiencies for certain types of combos (like slash weapons, firearms, or even food combos), allowing you to use more types of materials to create the same combos in the proficiency sheet. This still requires you to know the blueprints to make it work, but with enough proficiency, you can literally combine anything with everything.

Combo Blueprints are necessary in order to learn item recipes (no improvising this time around sadly!) and they come in two different flavors. The normal ones need no explanation, but you should definitely hunt for the golden blueprints. Do you love combining Teddy Bears with Light Machine Guns? These marvelous little recipes will let you upgrade your adorable, gun-toting Freedom Bear into a Cuddly Bear by adding a Portable Stereo that will draw attention to it. But it does not end there, as golden blueprints can upgrade existing golden blueprints. Do you want even more bang for your buck? Add dynamite to the Cuddly Bear and create the explosive, maniacal-laugh-inducing Provoked Bear.

Co-op in this game is simply amazing. I saw plenty of bad rap for it from the console version, but I had sittings of five hours straight without a single network hiccup and Steam only crashed once due to an internet connection problem. Be sure to bring a buddy to add to the fun, get into the vehicles together or separately for the most hilarious rampaging experience you’ll have ever since Saints Row IV.

Apocalypse Edition integrates DLC instantly applied to the main game and adds a few costumes and bonus weapons available to you at the first Safe House. I found the DLC weapons to be cheap against bosses, so I forsook them in favor of letting the psychopaths move out of a perma-stunlock. In all honesty, the clothes didn’t impress me that much aside the ability to make an afro kung-fu guy with a mustache and sun-glasses, but maybe that’s because I played 75% of the game dressed as a shark. Warning: Play dress-up at your own risk, or else the seriousness the story-based plot offers will be ruined by large grinning sharks or cross dressers in lingerie.

Another addition to this version of the game is a collection for four extra chapters called The Untold Stories of Los Perdidos that star different characters from the main story. These are hardly noteworthy to speak of, mainly because they don’t serve as an expansion or an extension of the main game. While I appreciate the intention of adding extra insight to the lore, Los Perdidos already has way too many roadblocks for me to enjoy fetch quests in each district again, just to hear my character complain or joke about it in another voice. Heck, in Episode 1 they add roadblocks for the sake of forcing you to drive around more, which becomes a waste of time instead of fun. I would have much more preferred to have the mindless, horde mode-inspired "Arcade Mode" DLC released for the Xbox One.

With a vast list of achievements to acquire, a large repertoire of moves, and weapon and vehicle combos to experiment with, and the trademark plethora of collectibles and side-missions to do, your fun is guaranteed. Dead Rising 3 Apocalypse Edition is a must-have for any sandbox rampage lover.