Is Dead Rising 3 setting a dangerous precedent here?

New character: It's mechanic Nick Ramos' turn to take on the zombie hordes.

Dead Rising 3: Can you really call a 13Gb download an update?

Dead Rising 3 is a probably one of the best games out for the Xbox One at the moment, and it’s a genuinely fun game, but the announcement by developer Capcom of a 13GB patch recently could set a dangerous precedent, especially in countries – New Zealand included – where internet data caps are still in force.

It seems that the update was designed to prepare the game for the first lot of DLC (downloadable content) , Operation Broken Eagle, and tweak with the final version of the game, but first things first: How can 13GB be called an update? It’s almost an entire game!!

And what’s with publishers not wanting to call them patches anymore? I guess patch implies that the developer is fixing something that is broken but at 13GB in size, this isn’t just a small bandaid: It’s a full on plaster cast, so it’s clearly fixing some major issues.

But has the update actually improved game play?

Over at Eurogamer, there’s an interesting critique on whether the update improves anything and it seems that it doesn’t actually provide a smoother game play experience from the original.

So have Capcom replaced complete parts of the game using the update, I’m not sure, but I wonder whether the 13GB contains both updated content that needed fixing as well as the DLC, so that it’s a quick unlock when people actually buy it. I hope this isn’t the case and Capcom isn’t forcing people to download content that they may or may not eventually want to buy. If that is the case, I’ll have to seriously consider whether I want to play another Capcom game again.

More of a concern, though, is now that we’re in a new generation of games consoles, how many more publishers are going to start releasing patches/updates of this size? Is this going to become the norm in the new generation of games consoles?

If it’s going to become the norm rather than the exception, then how many gamers will be reluctant – or unwilling – to update their games because the update will push them perilously close to their monthly ISP data cap?

Despite the advent of “all you can eat” and “unlimited” internet plans and society being in a golden age of technology, the reality is that many people in some countries are still on monthly plans with data caps. And if they want the large data plans, they’ll pay through the nose for it.

I’m on an unlimited fibre plan with a New Zealand ISP, offering download speeds of unto 100Mbps and upload speeds of 50Mbps. It costs $134 a month, I think.  The beauty of an unlimited plan means that I can – and do – download a lot of games from Steam and watch a lot of movies using Apple TV, but frankly, $134 a month is a lot of money for internet when you have other bills and expenses (once we’re back in our house after it’s been repaired for damaged caused in the February 2011 earthquake I’m going to downgrade my fibre plan). It’s easy to see why people go for more affordable internet plans, many of them hampered by a less than fantastic monthly data limit.

This is 2014, so I’m sure that savvy gamers have wrangled data plans that give them enough data to satisfy their needs but not everyone has the money to pay for unlimited or 200Gb of data a month, so patches the size of 13GB are going to cause serious problems for some Xbox One owners. If you’ve got a monthly limit of 20GB, then that’s more than half your allowance for the month gone in one download.

I’m really hoping that updates of this size are the exception rather than the norm – and that Capcom isn’t lumbering Dead Rising 3 players with DLC that they may not want to own – but the existence of data caps from many ISPs around the world still shows that the world isn’t ready for a digital-only game distribution system yet.

It’ll happen – eventually – but it’ll take a while to get there.

Dead Rising 3 review: shuffling zombies and weird weapons

New character: It's mechanic Nick Ramos' turn to take on the zombie hordes.

New character: It’s mechanic Nick Ramos’ turn to take on the zombie hordes.

I bet Rick Grimes, from TV’s The Walking Dead, would have loved to have had a sledgehammer combined with a circular saw in his battle against the undead hordes like Nick Ramos of Capcom’s Dead Rising 3 does: It’s very good at clearing out a path through a crowd of slobbering, shuffling and moaning zombies.

The third in the Dead Rising series (I guess the 3 gives it away, huh?) and an Xbox One exclusive,  we now have a new protagonist Nick, a mechanic (rather than Frank West and Chuck Greene in the  other two games), and a city – Los Perdidos – under lock down after a zombie outbreak. Ramos has a few days to get out of the city before the government nuke it out of existence.  It’s nothing new when it comes to zombie conventions but part of the Dead Rising series’ charm has been the ability to craft weird and wacky weapons out of just about everything and use them against the undead.

All around the game world are potential weapons: Cinder blocks, scissors, chairs, wrenches, robotic teddy bears (combine it with a cardboard box and you have a neat distraction for zombies) … and you can also eventually combine vehicles to make awesome machines of death!)

Where Dead Rising 3 has changed for the better in terms of weapon crafting is that once Nick has discovered blueprints for weapon combinations, he can actually make them on the spot rather than having to find a work bench in maintenance rooms  like in DR2. It makes for much smoother gameplay and means you can make new weapons on the spot. Ramos can only carry four items in his inventory but if he clears out safe zones he can use lockers there to store unwanted weapons.

As well as the main story, there are other survivors to save (and they’ll decide whether to join you or try to make it on their own) and side missions to complete but much of the fun is guiding Nick – dressed just in a pair of blue underpants – into a vehicle – a steamroller is particularly good – and driving around the streets, running over zombies and earning experience points. And there are lots of zombies on the streets to run over: thousands, I’d say.

Dead Rising 3 isn’t re-writing the book when it comes to zombie games so if you’re expecting something completely new, you’re not going to see it here, but something that is a neat feature is that if you have the Smartglass app installed on a smart phone and activate it while you’re playing, you can receive phone calls from NPCs and access information using the app. It’s quite neat, actually.

Excuse me, coming through: You'll have zombies hanging from your vehicle as you make your way through the streets of Los Perididos.

Excuse me, coming through: You’ll have zombies hanging from your vehicle as you make your way through the streets of Los Perdidos.

Criticisms I could point at Dead Rising 3 are that I didn’t it looked particularly next-generation (current generation?), either, apart from the number of zombies on-screen, and sometimes I felt as if I was playing an Xbox 360 game.

All in all, though, Dead Rising 3 is an entertaining romp through a zombie-infested open-world that while not taking any real risks with the series it’s a solid entrant that will suit zombie-killers and those who like making weird and wonderful weapons out of everyday items.

Rick Grimes needs to play this to get some tips on creative ways of zombie slaying.

Game Junkie impressions so far: The Xbox One

It’s a familiar logo, a familiar boot-up sound and a familiar colour – Xbox green – but it’s a completely new experience and a completely new console: The Xbox One, Microsoft’s next-gen machine.

Pride of place: The Xbox One doesn't look out of place sitting above my Panasonic DVR.

Pride of place: The Xbox One doesn’t look out of place sitting above my Panasonic DVR.

It’s bigger than the 360 –  about 10 per cent, apparently and putting the latter on top of the former shows by just how much –  but the new console’s unobtrusive look means it’ll blend in with all your other entertainment hardware without problem. It’s not some space-age looking piece of kit that’ll catch a visitor’s eye,  and it sort of reminded me of the old Mitsubishi Black Diamond VCR I used to own. Not much to look at but functional.

Breaking up the blackness are a silver accent around the Blu-ray drive and a white touch-sensitive Xbox button on the right hand side.  The “brick” power pack of the Xbox 360 is back and the console runs near silent, which is perhaps why it’s the size that it is: plenty of room for air to flow around?

Kinect is mandatory this time but it’s a much more advanced design to the original

Kinect camera: The new Kinect is bigger than the old one and shinier, too (yes, that's my reflection you can see).

Kinect camera: The new Kinect is bigger than the old one and shinier, too (yes, that’s my reflection you can see).

Unlike the Xbox 360, Kinect is mandatory this time but it’s a much more advanced design to the original, featuring a 1080p HD sensor that can even pick up your heart rate (granted that was using the game Kinect Fitness).  It was easy to set up, with the Kinect adjusting itself until it was happy, and a neat feature was that once set up, Kinect could differentiate between my profile and that lf my son’s,  even noticing when I had handed the controller to him.

Another impressive feature was that if left in standby mode, the Kinect will wake up the console as soon as you walk into its field of view field of view, greeting me with “Hi, Gerard!”. You can still use the traditional controller to sign in, if you want.

Microsoft says the Xbox One’s controller has been radically overhauled and while it feels a lot more organic, a lot smoother,  I can’t say I noticed much difference: It feels nice to hold, though. The  button layout is similar to that of the Xbox 360 (although I don’t think the bumpers are solid as those on the Xbox 360), with the Xbox button having moved upwards. There’s a much improved D-pad and menu and view buttons replace start and back. It’s powered by two double AA batteries but I think there’s a plug and charge kit available if you want to go the non-AA way.

Old with new: Here's the old controller alongside the new Xbox One, er, one.

Old with new: Here’s the old controller alongside the new Xbox One, er, one.

The Xbox One’s dashboard has the live tiles like Microsoft’s Windows 8 “Metro” interface, and it takes a little to get used to. There’s a central tile that shows your most recent activity – game, application – and pressing the  Xbox button on the controller will pause the game/app, taking you back to the dashboard.  Click on the central tile again and you’re taken back to the game or application, exactly where you left off. No pause, no waiting.

There’s also a Game DVR function that I’ve been playing around with. It records up to five minutes of game play footage (I’m not sure how it determines when and what footage to capture) then you can save the clips, edit and add a voice-over using Upload Studio and Kinect.

It’s a pretty neat feature  and I’m looking forward to playing around with it. You can also do “Picture in Picture”, where it overlays one game play clip over another, but for some reason the recorded voice over was echoey.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for Kiwi gamers, though,  is that voice commands aren’t enabled for New Zealand at launch (no doubt that’ll be updated with a patch at some point but when? Who knows: It took Microsoft a long time to get voice commands for us Kiwis with the Xbox 360s).  Stupidly, I didn’t actually know that until I found out from Xbox’s NZ PR person earlier this week, so spent the first night with the console saying things like things like “Xbox, go to games” and “Xbox resume Ryse: Son of Rome” , wondering why nothing was happening.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for Kiwi gamers is that voice commands aren’t enabled for New Zealand at launch

It’s sad but hopefully it won’t be too long until voice commands are New Zealand-ified. [Sidenote: Something I’ve noted about Xbox One application delays – the YouTube app is delayed in NZ at launch – is that we’re lumped in with Ireland and Austria. We’re not even anywhere near each other so I don’t understand the delay? Shouldn’t we be alongside Australia?]

While voice commands don’t work, Kinect still does and I used it to feed a giraffe in Zoo Tycoon by  holding an outstretched hand and did some fitnessy things playing Kinect Fitness, where it told me what my resting heart rate was (it was 77, if your interested).

Perhaps one of the strongest multimedia applications for the Kinect is that you can make Skype calls. I made a Skype call to my wife t his morning [her at work 6km, me in my living room at home] and it was flawless. The preview unit Xbox One that I have at the moment had a sizeable patch on Tuesday night (over a 1Gb) and apparently the Skype functionality was enabled with that.

Using Skype with Xbox One was a far more pleasant experience than using it on a laptop or with a camera on a desktop computer. A nice feature is that the Kinect follows the user when you move around, meaning I was always in the shot.  It even followed me when I squatted on the ground and stretched up really high. Using Skype on the Xbox One is a joy.

I’ve still lots to test out with the Xbox One – I haven’t watched a Blu Ray yet or really checked out the Store, apart from a few downloadable games – so this is a “review in progress” that will evolve and update as I discover more,  but it seems a solid console so far, despite many of Kinect’s much-touted features not enabled for our region.  I haven’t had the chance to compare it against the PlayStation 4 yet, either: the unreliability of couriers and my heading to Melbourne for five nights tomorrow meant things just didn’t work out.

The launch games I’ve played are a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest: I didn’t like Crimson Dragon much at all;  Zoo Tycoon is fun for those that like to micromanage things;  Dead Rising 3  is fun but didn’t initially screen next-generation (or is it current-generation now?) to me, apart from the masses of on-screen zombies and Forza Motorsports 5 looks great and it’s what you’d expect from Turn 10 studios. I’m playing a fair bit of Ryse Son of Rome and I’ll post a review next week sometime when I’m back in NZ but for the most part, I’m enjoying it,  apart from some niggles.

As I said, this is a review in progress so I’ll post more updates as I discover more stuff. Feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll answer them if I can (I might not be able to, but I’ll try if I can).

Update: I’ve had some more play time with the Xbox One and I think it’s a solid, solid console. I’m still making my way through Ryse: Son of Rome (I’ve completed about 88% so far) but have yet have playthroughs of other stuff. I’m doing a review of EA’s NBA Live 14 for NZ so I’ll get onto that t his weekend. The only issues I’ve heard relating to launch consoles is that some people are suffering “crunchy” drive issues, where the drive gives off this horrible clunking sound. I know of one Xbox Live friend who had issues with his launch-day Xbox One – only to have the replacement one do the same thing! Here’s hoping his third one is trouble-free.

Dead Rising 3 story trailer

Like fighting zombies with a variety of weapons and machines you’ve crafted? Then Dead Rising 3 might be the game you’re looking for.

An Xbox One exclusive, the third game in the Capcom series welcomes new protagonist Nick Ramos, who has to take on the zombie hordes in a game world said to be larger than those from the two previous games combined.

I loved the weapon crafting aspect of Dead Rising 1 and 2 and it seems in this new installment you don’t need a work bench to make wild and wacky zombie-killing implements – you can make them on the fly. Apparently the time limit from missions has been removed, too, which is nice, but there is a game mode that reinstates the time limit for those of you who like to slay zombies under pressure.

The Dead Rising series has always been known for the ability to craft just about everything to form a weapon, so I’m interested to see just what combinations gamers will come up with.

Sound like your cup of tea (or whatever hot beverage you prefer)? Here’s a story trailer on what to expect.