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March 11, 2014

Xbox One Review – Dead Rising 3: Chaos Rising

by Master Pillow

I feel like I am becoming a broken record when I say this – if you’ve already played the first two DLC Dead Rising 3 single-player packs then you know exactly what to expect as Dead Rising 3: Chaos Rising doesn’t deviate much from them.  That is incredibly unfortunate as Capcom Vancouver doesn’t look as if it is going to somehow release a remarkable piece of additional software and is merely content to cobble together a bare-bones package in order to make a few extra bucks.

If that sounds damning the fact is that it didn’t necessarily have to be this way as the concept of featuring four new characters whose stories somehow intersect with the main protagonist, Nick Ramos, is rife with possibilities.  However, as we’ve seen in the first two DLC packs, Operation Broken Eagle and Fallen Angel and now with Chaos Rising, developer Capcom Vancouver has really only switched the main character model with someone else and added a scant few in-game cutscenes that rarely are engaging in the least.

Without providing enough character backstory or even making a concerted attempt to show how these characters either positively or negatively affected Nick Ramos during his quests, the DLC packs are nothing but shallow side stories that fail to differentiate themselves from the main campaign as the actual gameplay is exactly the same.

Granted, Chaos Rising is probably my favorite of the three released DLCs so far but that’s merely because the new protagonist, Hunter Thibodeux, is so campy and over-the-top that he’s actually memorable even though he firmly comes from a long line of trailer-trash biker stereotypes.  In any other scenario, Hunter’s redneck drawl would be labeled insulting but at least he manages to never be boring as opposed to poor military straight-man Adam Kane in Operation Broken Eagle who had the charming charisma of a door knob.

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Chaos Rising attempts to weave a coherent plot that focuses on Hunter Thibodeux initially escaping from a Police jail cell and then trying to exact revenge on the traitor who first framed him and subsequently took over the gang in his absence.   The DLC at least attempts to fix some of the common complaints seen in the first two releases most presciently it allows Hunter more opportunities to speak even though much of it is cursing loudly to himself.  His generally poor-taste comments at least serve to reinforce his character and his constant yapping is marginally appealing just to hear what other insults come next.  At the same time, Hunter at least interacts with a few other characters through meaningful exchanges that reveal his flimsy backstory and though none of it is original, at least it gives this DLC some degree of soul.

Hunter’s redneck rampage throughout the city of Los Perdidos oftentimes feels like a better version of the lamentable Ride to Hell albeit, without those tasteless sex scenes, as just about every biker gang cliché has been thrown in here but that’s actually part of its charm as the hokey atmosphere meshes well with Dead Rising 3’s campiness.  That doesn’t mean that Hunter could in anyway headline an entire full game by himself but his zany personality is at least memorable.

One of the biggest complaints about the first two Dead Rising 3 DLCs has been the total omission of bosses to fight, a huge missed opportunity considering the core game had a ton of colourful psychopaths in which to dispatch.  Chaos Rising actually does rectify this as there are a few mini-boss gang lieutenants to face-off against and the entire DLC does end with a major boss battle although, it comes nowhere close to being as entertaining as those seen with Nick Ramos.  In a twist of fate, the new protagonist, Hunter Thibodeux, is actually the first psychopath that Nick meets in the main plot but alas he’s not exactly too bright a bulb.  Those who actually complete the DLC will probably find that Hunter isn’t as “lucky” as he deems himself to be.

What isn’t so fresh is the actual gameplay itself which follows the first two DLCs to a fault by essentially tasking Hunter to run around the city from one end to the next on ridiculous fetch or kill quests that are rarely engaging.  Chaos Rising once again relies on the same, by now, tired formula of mowing down the same zombies for the umpteenth time.  Would it really have cost too much or taken too many resources to throw in a few new enemy models or opponents to fight?  Whatever the reason for their omission, the core Dead Rising 3 gameplay is still fun but those who have mowed down hundreds of thousands of undead are seriously going to feel weary at doing the same thing all over again without sufficient reward save for a few new achievements to unlock.

Earning more PP (experience) is completely devalued as most players will have long since maxed out their statistics.  With the map remaining exactly the same the only real rewards are a few new blueprints/combo weapons as well as a new vehicle, this time a souped-up biker motorcycle with giant saw blades on its side, perfect for mowing down the zombie horde.  This motorcycle is actually quite useful as it not only has little difficulty slicing the undead into pieces but it manages to be speedy even when surrounded by a sea of zombies.  At the same time, Hunter does eventually gain access to his infamous steam-roller vehicle that Nick eventually has to deal with although it is surprisingly less reliable than the other new bike. The additional combo weapons are unfortunately, not well-received as they seem more like variations of existing weapons rather than brand new contraptions.

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The entire campaign rivals the first two DLC packs in length, clocking in at a little over one hour if every side quest is avoided.  That’s still incredibly short by any definition and the DLC doesn’t buck the trend of artificially expanding play time by throwing in a ton of ridiculous goals like collecting special whiskey bottles to add more useless experience points.  All these side quests are completely superfluous unless one is a real achievement hunter but, at this point, I doubt many will care to gather them all considering each DLC episode essentially asks gamers to do exactly the same humdrum object finding.

With only one DLC episode remaining the chances are high that it will follow in the same vein as the already released content as there is no reason to think otherwise.  At the very least, the relative failure of Chaos Rising, Operation Broken Eagle and Fallen Angel should serve as a warning to gamers about purchasing season passes without sufficient knowledge as to their relative worth.  Obviously, paying $29.99 for all four episodes at once makes more monetary sense than $9.99 each but after three episodes it is clear that the entire “Untold Stories of Los Perdidos” is not worth its asking price.  Sure, some people have more disposable income than others and might deem $29.99 a reasonable price point but the fact remains that gamers are not really getting the quality that they deserve considering each episode runs only one hour in length if rushed.

Capcom needs to seriously take a step back and consider how these DLC packs have been critically evaluated as leaving gamers frustrated and disappointed at their relative lack of quality accomplishes nothing but diminishing the IP’s value, all for the sake of earning a few extra bucks.  As it stands, Chaos Rising is marginally better than the previous two episodes but it still fails to add anything of significance to the Dead Rising 3 experience.

*1/2 out of ****

Developer: Capcom Vancouver

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

Released US: 02/21/2014

© 2014 The Galactic Pillow

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