Dabe Alan

I want to smash the cell phone in Dead Rising 3

I want to smash the cell phone in Dead Rising 3

I’m skeptical of Dead Rising 3.

I had the chance to play the game at a recent Microsoft event, and felt let down by both the graphical fidelity and frame rate. The game didn’t look bad, but it certainly didn’t look nearly as good as the other launch titles, although the sheer amount of zombies they could put on screen at one time was impressive. The lighting effects were interesting on occasion. Still, overall, it’s not one of the games on my “must play” list so far.

Plus, that damned cell phone kept ringing.

I think a big part of my annoyance came from how guided my experience was during my time with the game. I had a PR person guiding me to certain events, and telling me how to put weapons together, and trying to get me to go to the right, no, I mean, your OTHER right, and the whole thing just felt stressful. Dead Rising games are fun when you get to explore at your own pace and find your own fun, but it seemed to be more important to show off a few pre-ordained moments from the game.

And yes, my phone KEPT FUCKING RINGING.

It wasn’t my real cell phone, that was on vibrate and kept in my back pocket. They had Windows phones at the event that were loaded with the Dead Rising 3 second screen app, or maybe it was SmartGlass, and the game likes to play with you by having characters from that world physically call that phone. The idea was that they’d give you missions or information, and I was told that there was some content you could only get from receiving calls via this app.

A Gamasutra post explains the concept:

One of the initial development pillars of the Dead Rising 3 SmartGlass Companion app was that ‘Your cell phone is a cell phone’. We wanted the player using our app to look at their own smart device and feel that they had just plucked it off a rotting corpse in Dead Rising 3, just as Nick (Dead Rising 3’s hero) has.  We wanted players to enable SmartGlass and access apps as though they were using the device Nick had just picked up in the game. But of course it wouldn't be a phone unless players could have the experience of having the phone, or tablet, call them up! That meant we needed a living, breathing character that could phone or text the player at any time to offer advice, new missions or tempting prizes.

It sounds like a good idea, but it was a constant distraction. At a few points it even seemed like my PR guide was annoyed by the phone as it rang during one of his explanations of this or that part of the game. I had things I wanted to do, and it felt like the phone was constantly trying to pull me away. Maybe they just set it up for a high number of calls to show off the feature during this demo, but it was driving me crazy. I wanted to pick up and scream at the voice on the other end to LEAVE ME ALONE. I was TRYING TO KILL ZOMBIES and I THINK I MAY HAVE BEEN BITTEN and FOR REAL FUCK OFF.

It’s one thing to have a character trying to call you in the game, but it’s quite another to have a physical ringing phone next to you as you’re trying to do something. Does it add a layer of “reality” and live-action role-playing to things? Sure. But I’m old and grumpy and I play games to escape that sort of unending interruption. The ability to use the phone for maps and to call down air strikes is interesting, but can I turn off the ability to receive calls? I’ll call THEM if it’s so damned important.

Maybe it gets better in the full version of the game, and I’m certainly willing to give it another shot. For now, though? I’m not convinced.