Well Brendan, I think you may be right about Dead Rising 3. I do think it's on track to be a pretty good open world game. As for whether it will be true to the spirit of the series though, I have my doubts. But you know, that might not be such a bad thing.
As Brendan discussed when lay out the reasons that he's worried about Dead Rising 3, it's considerably different than its predecessors. The massive hordes of zombies are still there, and it's quite possible to go running around in a suit of armor and slice up foes with a lightsaber, but the social commentary Brendan discusses seems notably absent. Instead, we get Nick and Dick -- a couple of lovable scamps who alternate between steamrolling zombies and kicking one another in the biscuits.
That was the general thrust of Capcom Vancouver's brief TGS demo, where they discussed some of the cooperative elements they have planned for Dead Rising 3, which are pretty impressive. Among other things, it will be possible to jump into a friend's game and simply power level with them, turning it into something of a New Game Plus. It also offers an interesting way to see the flip side of whatever story choice you make during the campaign, since the decision is locked to the host.
Mostly though, the campaign is all about taking 15 minutes to wreck a million zombies. During demo, Nick and Dick hopped in to an armored tank and scythed through the zombie horde with a roof mounted shotgun. They burned through them with lightsabers (sorry, "laser swords"). And then, after setting off what amounts to a suitcase nuke and burning off all of their clothes, they turned on each other and started brawling.
It's all very Saints Row, which pretty much puts Dead Rising 3 in line with the modern sandbox action game. And to be honest, I would be flattered if my game compared favorably with the series that has quietly become the gold standard for sandbox insanity. I expect a lot of people who have never played a Dead Rising game in their life will enjoy the hell out of using a Freedom Bear to carve up zombies at their leisure.
Of course, that begs the question of whether Dead Rising 3 is right to go in this direction. According to producer Mike Jones, who was running the demo, it was a controversial question even within Capcom Vancouver. Apparently there's a fairly significant part of the team that rather liked the time limits and other restrictions from the first two games, and wanted to see them return. And so, to their credit, they've decided to have it both ways. In the normal mode, it will be possible to enjoy Dead Rising 3 at a leisurely pace, possibly hopping in to a game with a friend to torch some zombies. In Nightmare Mode, however, the old limitations return, and it's apparently quite difficult. In fact, Jones intimated that Nightmare Mode Dead Rising 3 may just be the hardest the series has ever been.
The upshot of all this is that it offers players a considerable amount of freedom in deciding how they want to enjoy Dead Rising 3. If they want to just mess around in a world larger than those Dead Rising 1 and 2 combined, they're more than welcome to crazy. If they want a more traditional experience, then that's possible as well. And you know, I think this is the right approach to take for a series that had been in danger of getting a bit stale after the second game. I have no problem with Dead Rising 3 dramatically expanding its scope and handing the proverbial keys to the player, but also retaining a more traditional experience for those who want it. As they say, evolve or die.
I do agree with Brendan, however, when he worries that Dead Rising so interesting in the first place. It makes me think of Dark Souls, actually, which has garnered a significant cult audience despite the occasional bit of bafflingly bad design (raise your hand, Blighttown). It may be that Dead Rising 3 ends up being a better, but paradoxically less memorable than previous entries in the series. After all, it's hard enough to stand out from the pack, and it's not as if there's any shortage of either zombie games or crazy sandbox titles.
My hope, I guess, is that Dead Rising 3 retains some of the satire that permeated the first two games, but also take the design forward. I'm not that worried about the second part -- Dead Rising 3 looks great, and the extensive suite of co-op options are pretty exciting. I'm sure it'll be a blast to play on a moment to moment basis. I am worried a little about the former point though. It doesn't seem like Dead Rising 3 wants to think too hard about its world, which is troubling for a game in a genre where the zombies has traditionally taken a back seat to the satire.
All I really ask is for Dead Rising 3 to take some chances and show a willingness to stand out from its peers. In the past, that hasn't really been an issue for Dead Rising. We'll see if that will be the case for Dead Rising 3.