Dead Rising 4 Review

Dead Rising 4 Review

Get Fast-Paced and Frantic with Frank

The Dead Rising series is always shifting and evolving. Each installment is slightly different from the rest. Sometimes, the changes are minor. Other times, they’re far more drastic. With Dead Rising 4 , we have a reboot that abandons the idea of a thoughtful beat’em up that encourages time management and feels like survival is a challenge. It replaces that model with one that’s fast, frantic, and more about momentary thrills and silliness.

Dead Rising 4 begins with Frank West facing the ghosts of his past as he goes through a zombie-filled mall. When we see him next, such a nightmare seems like nothing more than a man dealing with past fears. The zombie plague has been cured. People have been vaccinated and are safe. But his student and protege, Vick, has convinced him to investigate a tip she’s received. While reluctant, he agrees. The two find themselves at a government facility filled with zombies. But not just any zombies, zombie clones acting far more aggressively than normal. Vick gets them caught, Frank is exposed and framed, and he’s forced into hiding.

Months later, Brad Park, the ZDC Agent we met in Dead Rising 3 has come to visit “Hank East,” a man teaching wedding photography. It’s then that we learn a new zombie outbreak began in Willamette on Black Friday. It began in a new, megaplex mall and took over the entire town. No one’s heard anything about it for weeks, the Pentagon is hiding the truth, and Brad wants Frank to help him expose the truth. The two head in, on a helicopter that gets shot down, and must fight the undead to save the city.

I’m not a big fan of the characterizations, unfortunately. Frank has always been something of an abrasive character who spouts occasionally cringe-worthy dialogue, which I always considered a coping mechanism for the situations in which he’s placed. In Dead Rising 4 , he’s far more unbalanced and believability goes out the window. It takes Vick minutes to convince him to cover a suspicious case after he seems dead set against it. He goes from grave and serious to immediately joking about the horrifying situations. It takes moments for Brad to pull him in again, after he comes to visit “Hank.” One of the first things you have to do when you get to Willamette with him is help protect him from zombies while he… easily opens some crates? Huh? His actions and behavior also never seem plausible, except if you throw all reason aside and consider Dead Rising 4 an excuse to mindlessly assault hordes of zombies.

This ends up applying to all the characters and story elements. Vick sees Frank as an idol and teacher. She brings him to the site her source told her about. She knows his reputation and clearly is accustomed to his behaviors. Yet, the second she actually sees him in action against zombies, she not only immediately turns on him, she develops this full blown vendetta that results in life-size voodoo dolls and rants about him in collected materials. Brad goes into Willamette alone with Frank. Given his Dead Rising 3 history, his reactions seem normal, but there are times when he doesn’t seem to behaving rationally.

Dead Rising 4 Screenshot

Perhaps this is all fitting, because Dead Rising 4 is an irrational sort of game. The adrenaline, weapons offerings, and scope are far larger than we’ve seen previously. Things are more frantic. I found myself only remembering to take photos outside investigations on rare occasions when absolutely no zombies were around. Checkpoints replace save points. Saving fellow survivors involves clearing zombies from the area around them so they can run off on their own. The pace is clearly set, and it’s an over-the-top, silly one. Within the first two hours, I was already racing around in a go-kart to run down zombies, abandoning it to use a T-shirt gun to take out a few single targets.

Dead Rising 4 Screenshot

I felt like I was never constrained. Frank has no limits. There are no timers. What there are, are hordes of zombies. Weapons are everywhere. Recovery items aren’t as plentiful, but are easily found. Exosuits let you deal major damage. The only time I did feel like Dead Rising 4 boxed me in was in the case of many melee weapons. With ones that have a wide range when they swing, like a halberd, axe, or sword, the specials only target one enemy instead of taking advantage of the full swing. Considering how quickly someone can be swarmed by zombies, maniacs, soldiers, and hostile survivors, it would have been greatly appreciated if more specials took out multiple opponents.

At least other game elements are the epitome of efficiency. Switching weapons is ridiculously easy. Holding down one trigger throws a projectile. Pressing the button to aim brings up Frank’s gun. A tap on the D-pad pulls up a melee weapon. In each case, subsequent taps on the D-pad switch weapons, pull up the weapon wheel, or let you immediately heal. Crafting can be done anywhere at any time, provided you have collected the blueprint and have the necessary ingredients either in your inventory or in Frank’s immediate vicinity. I almost wish it were possible to have all eight slots open for melee, ranged, and projectile weapons at the start, because it’s easy to load up on amazing equipment almost instantly.

However, extra inventory slots and other skills need to be unlocked. A leveling system is in place, giving Frank experience for completing objectives, taking photos, and fighting zombies. The Skill Points earned upon leveling up can be applied to different categories that improve areas like weapon proficiency and survivability. Putting the first few points into the basic skills is a good idea, since Dead Rising 4 ’s Frank isn’t the most well-rounded or durable dude at the outset, but it’s easy to get him leveled up into a zombie slaughtering machine.

Dead Rising 4 Screenshot

It all encourages replayability. Even though this is an open space, Dead Rising 4 is divided into cases. While there are set objectives for each one, you’re free to explore the area and find all kinds of collectibles. It feels like a game where you go through the chapter once to get it done in about an hour or two, then eventually come back to be a little more thorough. It isn’t about being thoughtful or strategic. It’s about engaging in silly activities as you fight your way through troops of mostly competent zombies, more-capable fresh zombies, and very accurate human characters.

This might not please everyone. Dead Rising 4 doesn’t feel exactly like the original Dead Rising or Dead Rising 2 . The humor is there, but there isn’t the same sense of thoughtfulness and careful planning needed to survive. It’s a more frantic affair, filled with collectibles and weapons, that gives you an opportunity to plow through enemies throughout Willamette. It’s different, but that doesn’t mean bad. Clearly, Dead Rising 4 is rebooting the series. It’s an entertaining beat’em up, albeit one where I haven’t had a chance to play online ahead of launch. I still think it’s a great way to spend the holidays, but people who appreciated the earlier games may want to watch some gameplay videos or try a demo first.

There are so many zombies in Dead Rising 4, and they’re all grotesque. Fortunately, Frank is a snappy dresser with visually impressive weapons! 4.0 Control
It’s easy to collect, switch between, create, and use all kinds of weapons, as well as take photos. Improved targeting would have been nice, though. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Frank’s new voice actor isn’t great, but the soundtrack and original Christmas songs are. 4.8 Play Value
There are plenty of reasons to return to completed cases and grab new weapons, find new items, and unlock secrets. The multiplayer also seems promising. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Frank West returns in the next chapter of the Dead Rising franchise.
  • Two all-new classes of zombies: Explore and scavenge the open world sandbox of Willamette, Colorado while facing off against newly zombified enemies and agile zombies that can attack you from above.
  • Anything and everything is a weapon: An all-new collection of weapons and vehicles allow players to craft their own tools of zombie destruction.
  • EXO Suits give players a super-powered weapon with incredible fire power to take on the zombie horde.
  • Team up with friends to complete missions in seamless four-player co-op or quick match and join a game in progress with players around the world.

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