Dead Rising 3: Chaos Rising Review
Microsoft Xbox One
There’s a noticeable trend with Dead Rising 3’s downloadable content. With Broken Eagle and Fallen Angel already released, Chaos Rising arrives – again with little fanfare – with another handful of missions, weapons, things to do and a vehicle thrown in for good measure. Not to mention a cardboard cut-out character, the slightest of overlap with Dead Rising 3’s main plot and a general feeling of malaise as the missions play out as passable time-wasters. Hey, wouldn’t you know it, Chaos Rising follows the same template, lacking in any tension despite presenting events from an antagonist’s point of view.
Hunter Thibodeaux, your avatar for this hour-long distraction, is the mohawked, stereotypically-crazy biker and probably the first ‘psycho’ boss-battle you encountered during the main story. His personality has all the subtlety of a studded fist to the face – he begins the DLC sat in a zombie-infested jail, spewing out the same crass but wholly unoriginal lines we’ve heard from this type of character before. Combine Merle from The Walking Dead with the crazies from Mad Max, take away any glimmers of character development and you’ve pretty much pictured Hunter. Even that name isn’t particularly inspired, considering that’s all he did in the main game.
After leaving jail Hunter attempts to reconnect with his biker gang, now under the leadership of another sadistic, bike riding bastard. Who, in his first evil declaration upon your return, asks you to fetch him some whiskey. Yes, you heard correctly, a fetch quest. This, as with all the other DLC episodes, then opens up an optional whiskey collection sub-quest – another quota of collectibles spread out across the map, for your XP-boosting pleasure. These fetch quests (rather apt in their sheer number, given our feature on the damned things) are Dead Rising 3’s simultaneously annoying and redeeming quality. They certainly add longevity to the very brief missions to be found in the DLC, but they feel hollow and cheap.
Nevertheless, at least Chaos Rising doesn’t arbitrarily spread the main missions over the map, padding out the game with unnecessary travel. Aside from one cross-map journey, Chaos Rising feels more contained and when travel is needed the focus on motorcycles means things feel faster and more manoeuvrable. That doesn’t forgive one mission that sees you collect bikes, nor the oh-so-predictable story twists – betrayals, gang warfare and petrolheads are all present and correct, just waiting for your sarcastically raised eyebrow.
Pitting you against rival gangs, Chaos Rising moves the combat focus away from zombies towards bikers who fight back, take more hits to fell and are generally less fun. Zombies have a slapstick charm, tripping over themselves as they shamble towards you; bikers act like enemies in every other third-person shooter and suffer for it. Even the newly added weapons are just variations on a theme; tweaked versions of weapons we’ve seen already in the game. At least the new vehicle – a saw-bladed monstrosity that is as badass as that sounds – is great fun, for once making journeys feel empowering rather than a stuttering litany of barricades and zombies.
Chaos Rising also features boss battles – a first for the DLC – and while they are welcome, they aren’t particularly fun. Three subordinates have to be despatched and their attack patterns can be boiled down to:
A) One runs at you
B) One stays put
C) One runs away
Fair enough, you might say, these aren’t the storyline-ending final confrontation and can therefore be forgiven for a little unoriginality. Until the final, proper boss battle consists of dodging a well-telegraphed charge move. Looking back at the psycho encounters in the first Dead Rising it’s a shame that these meetings – once creepy, difficult or darkly comic – have become limp exercises in semi-tedium.
Crowning the whole endeavour comes the final plot twist which won’t be spoiled here. You’ll see it coming a mile away but, when it does happen, it manages to cheapen both Chaos Rising’s meagre story as well as a substantial encounter in the main game. Chaos Rising is probably the most fun of the three episodes so far, but their similarity in everything from structure down to animation does little to endear the player to these hastily-sketched caricatures. There’s every likelihood that the next episode will follow the same pattern but an hour is enough to draw an intriguing character. We haven’t seen one yet – perhaps Capcom Vancouver are saving the best for last? We can but hope.