Buy Dead Rising 3
If Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon taught us anything last year, it was that you can come up with a far-out premise to play up a once-serious game series for laughs. As long as the gameplay is solid, people will embrace the absurdity wholeheartedly. It seems that Capcom was listening, as they pulled off a surprise that no one saw coming, especially after the news that DLC for Dead Rising 3 had come to an end. If you need evidence of the wackiness, look no further than the title of said DLC: Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha.
Unlike all of the previous Dead Rising games, this one doesn't bother to tell a story. Instead, you're given an arcade-like setup where you choose between one of four characters from the Dead Rising universe and complete objectives that fit with the proper games. Some of those objectives include killing large numbers of the zombie hordes, rescuing hostages, and disabling bombs. The environments are the same but have clear divisions between districts, which are further divided into areas specific to each chapter. The game is no longer a solo affair; up to four players can play cooperatively online, but there's a competitive aspect because there's a scoring system in place.
The arcade setup also changes some of the basic mechanics of the core series. It's like an advanced brawler or fighting game, so your heroes have three different attack levels and you can come up with rudimentary combos. You now have a special meter that fills up and allows you to unleash a special move with devastating results. Instead of hunting for food to replenish your health, you just pick up an icon to regain full health, and armor pick-ups act as a secondary health bar. Ammo is infinite, and weapons are no longer susceptible to breaking from heavy use. Side-quests aren't present, though that's a good thing since each stage has a strict timer that constantly hounds you to complete the level as quickly as possible. Vehicles are obtained via icons that determine the type of ride you'll get but not exactly which one you'll be driving. XP is also taken out of the equation, so you can't use the DLC to farm for XP and level up before returning to the main game. Finally, the zombie hordes won't grab and bite you, but there are some new variants, like the suicide bomber zombie.
The switch to an arcade style of gameplay doesn't mean the characters are merely reskinned copies. Each of the four characters has statistical differences that range from durability to attack power, and they also have different weapons. Nick always has his trusty concrete saw/sledgehammer combo while Annie sports dual machine guns. They're different enough that you'll find a favorite based on your style of combat, but the differences complement each other, so it doesn't feel like one overpowers the other when playing cooperatively. Costumes in other games signify the opportunity to see the same heroes with the same moves in new threads, but here, they're treated like new characters. Frank with a Servbot head acts more like his Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 persona and comes equipped with just about every melee weapon available, and Nick has dual pistols when he's wearing a tuxedo.
The change to a simpler system is refreshing. Having a timer in each level keeps things hectic enough that time management becomes just as important as completing the objectives, and it ensures every moment is filled with action. The difficulty feels balanced enough, so you'll have a blast with multiple people but feel comfortable playing it solo. The objectives never feel like they're too easy or impossible, and the boss fights are fun and not taxing. That fun carries the gameplay from beginning to end, and it never feels like a slog when compared to the previous DLC packs.
Of course, a large part of that fun comes from the amount of fan service and references Capcom throws out, starting with the SNES chime that rings when the logo comes up for the DLC and the fake FBI message that fits with the game lore. Every level is filled with billboards and signs for Capcom titles, but they're for classic franchises like Power Stone and Onimusha instead of more recent games, like Dragon's Dogma. Costumes from titles like Breath of Fire IV, Dino Crisis, and Final Fight appearand have game-specific abilities; the Regina costume brings a pterodactyl swooping down to take out enemies and the B.B. Hood costume brings a duo of freedom bears. Bonus stages will make you remember things, like the car-smashing stage from Street Fighter II. Stray arcades litter the levels, and power-ups reference titles like 1942, Ghosts 'n' Goblins, Mega Man and Strider. Old Capcom references like the Pow symbol and Yashichi (red circle with shuriken in the middle) also appear. The game hits you with these references at an almost non-stop pace, and if you're familiar with the company history, it'll take a while for you to take in everything.
The sense of fun and nostalgia is amplified thanks to the tweaks in the presentation. Graphically, the streets of Los Perdidos are presented with brighter colors and a tiny hint of cel-shading that mimics the upcoming Sunset Overdrive without abandoning the grit of Dead Rising 3. Neon is everywhere, and it now presents a better contrast to the blood and gore of dead zombie hordes. The game also gets a little playful, as you can pick up pixelated icons, and objectives follow the same 8-bit aesthetic. Audio-wise, each stage is filled with classic Capcom soundtracks with minor tweaks to sound richer. The sound effects remain the same, and while the characters aren't as talkative as they were, the bombastic announcer makes up for it with a constant announcement of pick-ups and enemy appearances.
With all that the title does right, there are a few things it just doesn't so as well, though none of the issues are major. The requirements to obtain new costumes for each of the characters aren't so bad since they require exploration and a knack for improving your performance to get higher scores. However, the fact that you still need to unlock the costumes can be off-putting since it takes a fair amount of replay to get enough cash to unlock one outfit, let alone all 16. Also, despite the smaller areas in this mode, the game still takes a long time to load up. It makes sense when you play the game and see that the loading between areas is non-existent, but losing at any point — whether you died or simply ran out of time — means having to deal with the long load times. Online matchmaking also takes a while before you get matched up with strangers, so you'll want to make sure you're inviting friends to a private match if you want to guarantee some online fun, though you can get by with playing the game solo. Finally, it is disappointing to see that this DLC wasn't part of the season pass. It wasn't originally revealed as part of the package, but it would've been nice nonetheless.
The Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha DLC is a nice addition to a very solid core game. The arcade style gameplay is loads of fun, especially with friends, and the levels lend themselves well to replayability, even if you're just grinding for costume requirements. Nostalgic gamers will enjoy the references to Capcom's history, especially since it ranges from obvious to obscure, and the new presentation makes everything feel fresh. It isn't enough to make you forget about the four disappointing DLC packs that were previously released, but it's enough to get you excited about the series again.
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