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The Dead Rising franchise has been a hit since its debut on the 360 at the beginning of the last generation and while some didn’t enjoy its DLC-laden sequel, it was a critical and commercial success across the 360, PS3, and PC. The 2013 E3 saw the surprising reveal that not only was Dead Rising 3 coming, but it was going to be an Xbox One exclusive published by Microsoft. The unveiling showcased a new protagonist, a new setting, and more modern graphics with a much darker tone than the brighter earlier entries. Since the system’s launch, the game has received mixed reviews, but now we’ll look at how well the game stacks up on the whole, and how accessible it is to disabled gamers.

Like the first two, you’ve got a razor-thin plot involving a zombie outbreak and it’s up to you to fix the problem as best you can while killing hordes of zombies. The first game kept things limited to a mall, while the second opened things up a lot with exterior settings, and now, you’ve got a whole city to explore at your leisure. Well, “leisure” is a relative term here, as you’ll spend most of your time surrounded by the undead. Lots of them. The Xbox One’s power is used to give you a sprawling world with hundreds of enemies available to kill on a whim.

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 You can slaughter zombies with your fists, basic weapons like the first game, combo weapons like the second, or mow them down in vehicles. This method is by far the most thrilling until you get to the biggest new addition to the third installment – combo vehicles! These require blueprints to make, just like combo weapons, but can result in some amazing killing machines. It’s thrilling to mow down a ton of zombies with a steamroll, but it’s even more fun to do so with a streamroll/motorcycle hybrid with flame throwers, or a fireworks-filled forklift to mow down and explode swaths of the undead. Unfortunately, there are less than a dozen of them available – far less than the amount of combo weapons you can make, but they’re still a riot to use and help mix things up a bit. Combo weapons are more plentiful than ever though, and allow you to mix a variety of killing implements together to form something more efficient.

Usually, it’ll take four or five shots from a weapon to kill an enemy, but with a combo one, you’re looking at two-to-three, and maybe even one if you’re lucky. Vehicles are your bread and butter here, and while they’re harder to find than weapons, they’re far more satisfying to use. They’ll kill a swarm of zombies fairly quickly, and it’s fun to have a few latch onto your vehicle and then crush them against the environment. There isn’t a ton of depth to what DR 3 has to offer, but it’s a lot more user-friendly now than it’s been in the past, even if its the core experience can get old fairly quickly. The basic formula sees a cutscene happen, you needing to rescue someone or something in a fetch quest, kill zombies on the way to the fetch quest, during it, and from it, and then repeat the same pattern over and over. Boss fights are thrown in, but are more frustrating than fun due to their extreme difficulty compared to the rest of the game.

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 The DR games have always been incredibly tough, making them challenging for the able-bodied, and less than friendly for those with disabilities. The first featured notoriously small text and an unrelenting challenge, while the second increased text size and added online co-op to make things easier, while the third keeps the co-op and adds in a second-screen experience with either a smart phone or tablet. By downloading the Xbox One SmartGlass app, a person with disabilities can either get help from someone else using the app or use it themselves. If the player has fine motor problems, then the app allows them to help by marking mission waypoints and calling in airstrikes to take out a large amount of zombies at one time. DR 3 is the most frustration-free entry in the series yet thanks to the app and vast improvement over prior save systems. Before, you’d run the risk of losing half an hour or more of progress due to a death since save points were spread so thin. Now, you can save at any time in the regular story mode, and can still save after bosses, important story events, or in the occasional porta-john.

Visually, DR 3 doesn’t look all that amazing in still or in motion. The character models have a distinct last-gen look to them, while jittery animation for survivors you’re trying to save can be laughable. Early on, there was an old lady fending off zombies with a shotgun who literally had two frames of animation – and she was jittering through all of them horribly and clipping through the environment. It’s hilarious, but not the kind of comedy you expect from a AAA-level game on brand-new $500 hardware. There’s also a ton of slowdown when a lot is happening at one time. It would be one thing if it was limited to vehicle usage where you can at least kind of mentally justify it because there’s so much going on and you’re driving a vehicle really quickly, but even if it’s just you and a friend versus a horde of the undead, things still slow to a crawl. It makes the game seem unpolished, which is also something you don’t want from a major new release. It should look and feel like a premium product, and that isn’t the case with this game. However, the increase in overall quality for the characters and environments makes it easier to see what’s going on than in past games.

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 There aren’t many impressive aspects to DR 3’s audio. The music is good, but lacking variety and it doesn’t really seem to fit the horrific atmosphere – although a dubstep-laden zombie smashing play session is usually enjoyable. The voice work is good-ish at times, usually tolerable, and sometimes hilarious. Most of the secondary characters aren’t given much to work with, but it definitely hurts to have so many cheesy performances here. The best part of the audio lies in the sound effects. The crunch of zombies as you crush them with your vehicles and thwack with them bats and wrenches.

 In terms of how well the game works for those with disabilities, it’s nearly impossible to recommend if you have vision issues or fine motor skills, but may be worth a rental despite that. There’s a ton going on, and the slowdown can make it too hard to see exactly what’s happening, while the poor on-screen map makes it difficult to figure out where to go next. Text size is perfectly fine now, and subtitles enable those with hearing problems to be able to get the gist of what’s going on and not have to worry about hearing the cheesy dialogue. Kinect functionality isn’t exactly friendly to those with slow reaction time or fine motor issues as it requires you to push the controller forward to get zombies off of you, while not having the Kinect detected allows you to just press a button in a QTE segment. The app enables people with fine motor issues who can’t handle the complex controller layout to help out with a much simpler touch interface, and the menu layout there is easy to follow with big text and icons if you’ve got vision issues.

Overall Rating: Partially Accessible

Visual Rating: Partially Accessible

Fine-Motor Rating: Inaccessible

Auditory Rating: Partially Accessible

Released For: Xbox One

ESRB Rating: M

Game Informer Rating: 8.75

 

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The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Dead Rising 3

Disability

Pros

Cons

Visual

– Text is much larger than past games

– Increased detail makes world easier to see

– On-screen action is frequently too chaotic to follow

Fine Motor

– SmartGlasss App allows you to aid another player with large touch-based buttons

-The use of so many buttons on the controller, including stick depression, can be too much to handle

– The reliance on the hard-to-press LB to run makes it more difficult than it should be

 

– Kinect usage requires a fast pushing motion to evade zombie grappling, and failing that, a rapid button press would be required for the same action

Auditory

– Voice acting being largely forgettable means you aren’t missing much by not hearing it, while subtitles being included means you can follow the story if you so desire

– The sound effects are the best part of the audio, and can’t be transcribed via subtitles

 

 

 

Overall Rating: Partially Accessible

Visual Rating: Partially Accessible

Fine-Motor Rating: Inaccessible

Auditory Rating: Partially Accessible

Released For: Xbox One

ESRB Rating: M

Game Informer Rating: 8.75

Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter @dagersystem. 

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