The Dead Rising franchise has a special hold on me. The original was the game that convinced me to buy an Xbox 360, while Dead Rising 3 made the decision to grab an Xbox One all that much easier. Demolishing literal hordes of zombies with weaponry suited for a mad scientist is just one of those simple pleasures in life. That being said, I was ecstatic to hear that Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition was going to get a PC port, and one that would be able to truly harness my PC’s power as opposed to being a simple recreation. Sadly, only one of those things actually happened.
I’m going to save us all some time and only touch briefly on what Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition is. If you’d like something more thorough, you can read our full review of the game here. Just note that what you’re getting with this package is not only the full game, but also its four major add-ons.
For those of you coming in completely blind, Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition places you in the middle of Los Perdidos, a fictional take on Los Angeles, during a zombie outbreak that is forcing you to fight your way out before the government destroys the city in an effort to control the spread of the virus. It’s a pretty simple formula, but I’ll be damned if it’s not a fun one.
The issue isn’t that the game isn’t fun, or that the base game has too many flaws. In fact, our very own Chad Goodmurphy gave it a 4.5 out of 5 when he reviewed it. The problem here is very simple and very frustrating: This is simply a poorly done port.
We tested the game on our most powerful machine. Rocking an overclocked i7 4770k, and overclocked R9 290×2, plus 22 gigabytes of ram, it can easily handle 99.9% of games without performance issues. That being said, with this title, we saw frame rates drop into the single digits on higher settings and had multiple issues getting stable frame rates at mid-level settings.
The option menu is an absolute mess. We held off on this review in order to speak with Capcom and get clarification on what exactly they were trying to do here. We’ve heard back from them, but quite frankly I’m still slightly confused. There’s reliance on buzzwords here that simply doesn’t allow for an honest conversation on the topic.
The first thing you can do on the options menu is select your screen resolution, which is pretty standard stuff. However, right off the bat we started to see some issues, because the resolution options are taken from what your monitor can provide in a very literal fashion. I’ve got the option for 3,840 X 2,160 at both 30hz and 60hz, for instance. This wasn’t a problem until we remembered that the game has a built-in cap for 30 FPS (more on that later), making this option less useful than it normally would be.
Going into the advanced options, things go from “slightly questionable” to “downright silly.” Game Quality is the second option on the list, and is handled in a way that I have never once seen before. As opposed to low, medium, high or ultra, your options are 720p, 900p, 1080p, or Full. According to the game options, it’s possible to run at a 4k resolution while only having a 720p resolution. Please don’t think about that sentence for too long, or you’ll probably end up with a nose bleed.
Capcom did respond to our requests for comment, but I’m not sure how helpful their responses really were. “Game Quality” basically means internal rendering resolution. Their exact quote was, “it’s independent of the monitor resolution setting, and it greatly affects the frame rate performance of the game if set too high. The lower the number, less strain on the GPU and better the frame rate you get.”
I’m not alone in this confusion. Doing some actual journalism, I spoke with people in the game development field of study at the University of North Texas and was met with blank stares. It seems Capcom tried to reinvent the wheel here without really questioning why.
The rest of the options menu is actually very good. There will be some initial confusion for players when they see the LoD slider, since level of detail isn’t an option we’re presented with often, but it’s great to be able to really fine tune the game in order to get the most out of your experience.
Once those settings are in place, this port looks great. Character models are much more detailed, hordes of zombies seem to be denser, and it really offers a great visual experience. The only real complaint I had on the visual field is that certain textures that could hide at lower resolutions on consoles look a bit too cartoonish here. In one of the early scenes, a character gets a bit queasy and vomits on the window. It looked okay before, but now it just seems like a splat of off-green paint.
As we said earlier, Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition comes locked with a 30 FPS cap, although we were provided instructions on how to unlock it by creating an .ini file. I’m not going to beat around the bush here, and I’m not going to give a company credit for allowing users to fix a mistake on their own. 30 FPS is unacceptable. It’s below what the standard should be. It’s a relic of developers choosing shiny visuals over actual performance, and any single time a developer is telling you that 30 FPS is “okay,” “cinematic” or an “artistic choice,” they are lying to you. Limiting a game to 30 FPS is pure, unadulterated bullshit.
When the game is actually running, it’s a rough experience. We were told that our rig is underperforming due to crossfire and a lack of optimized drivers. I’m aware that not all games handle crossfire properly, but that’s a cause of poor optimization and not hardware. A high profile title like this shouldn’t have those issues.
Once we disabled one of the cards (effectively limiting us to a single 290x), the game did run better, but still chugged at certain areas. High settings allowed for 30 FPS to be fairly consistent when the game was calm but would drop into the low twenties with action. Lowering the settings further got us into the forties and low fifties, but we weren’t able to really maintain 60 FPS without dropping the settings all the way down to 720p. Higher end computers will be able to run this fairly well, while something mid-range should be able to handle it on lower settings. If your system struggles with modern games, you’ll probably want to sit this one out, at least for now.
It’s worth remembering that the game didn’t run fantastically on console, and Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition looks much better than the Xbox One version with the settings turned up. That said, it’s disappointing to see that the game simply isn’t programmed well enough to truly take advantage of powerful systems.
Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition is a story of wasted potential. The game itself is still a blast, and a fantastic distraction from life. It’s just an absolute shame that it isn’t a good port, for some reason. I’d still recommend buying this over the Xbox One version if you have a mid-tier or better PC, but with some hesitation. After all, we’re undoubtedly going to see some mods that will help the performance as well as add in all sorts of additional content, so it might be worth it to play the waiting game, in order to see what the final product will actually look like.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which was given to us for review purposes.
Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition is a mediocre port of a very good game. Fans of the franchise and newcomers alike should both seriously consider picking it up on the PC, but it might be worth waiting to see if the noted issues can get smoothed out first.