It’s no secret that Dead Rising is one of my favorite video game franchises of all time. Since the first game came out 10 years ago, there has been 9 games and 3 movies in the series; I’ve played/watched them all. Now Capcom is back for Dead Rising 4 and they’re bringing back some familiar staples in the Dead Rising universe. First of all, Frank’s back. The wisecracking, zombie slaying photojournalist is back in our control and it’s great. Second, what setting would be best for Frank West’s return? Willamette of course! Dead Rising 4 takes place during the holiday time, which also happens to be my favorite time of the year. So favorite game + set during favorite time of the year = perfect game? Well, we’ll see about that.
Let’s start with what’s new in Dead Rising 4. The inventory system has been GREATLY improved. Now anything you can hold is divided into 4 different inventory menus. Now, I know that sounds really convoluted, but it’s not that hard and it works really well. Everything is done on the d-pad, holding ‘left’ brings up the throwables menu, holding ‘right’ brings up the ranged menu, holding ‘up’ brings up the melee menu, and holding ‘down’ uses a food item. There is also no longer need to switch between guns and swords as you can use it all simultaneously; left and right triggers work the ranged weapons while left bumpers throws whatever is queued in the throwables menu and x is for slashing down the zombies with whatever badass melee weapon you see fit!
Speaking of weapons, the game now lets you know at all times the durability of your weapons (may be one of my favorite additions), so now you’re not caught off guard when your weapon icon starts flashing red and it feels like you’re holding a bomb with a lit wick. The combo weapons added to the game are as festive as they are outrageous! From Acid Mauls to Santa Traps, Electric Wreaths to the ‘Gandelf’. What’s the Gandelf you ask? Oh just a gun that shoots EXPLODING ELVES. As you can see, the weapons have not lost their uproarious grandeur.
As the game begins, we are ‘gifted’ an awesome cinematic summing up what has happened leading up to the outbreak. It’s done in a gritty comic style set to a chilling, somber Christmas tune that really gets the point across that the world has gone to hell in a handbasket. As someone who is fascinated by people’s ‘behavior’ (for lack of a better word), I find it perfect that this is how the outbreak started. Frank is a photojournalist, and finally we have a better reason to lug that camera around while murdering zombs. The camera now has alternate modes that allow you to investigate areas, unlock keypads, see in the dark, and more. This adds a nice element to the game that will now engage players to use the camera more than they would have.
Games have advanced tremendously since 2006. This, of course, means we get more zombies on the screen! Dead Rising 3 had a lot of zombies, but Dead Rising 4 takes that to the next level. The amount of zombies on the screen feels literally claustrophobic, but don’t worry, that’s a good thing! When I play a game about a zombie outbreak, I don’t want to see large spaces with no zombies, I want to be smothered by that rotten flesh, and I feel like Capcom has achieved that in Dead Rising 4.
My major gripe with the game is something that was brought to my attention months ago. This Frank West really isn’t the Frank West I, and many others, have come to love. Frank is voiced by Victor Nosslo, who is brand new to the voice acting (or even acting in general) world. The REAL Frank West is voiced by stunt man Terrence J Rotolo in Dead Rising 1, 2, Off The Record, Case West, and Marvel vs Capcom 3. Why they didn’t bring him back for 4, I have no clue. But Frank West having a completely different voice really took a lot out of the game for me, and I disregarded this ‘Frank’ as an imposter. Sorry Victor.
The game could really use a setting where you can adjust difficulty. At no point in the game did I feel like I was in any real danger. The new quick heal feature paired with a fully leveled up food inventory almost made me invincible. I’m certain I can count the times I died on one hand.
Killing zombies got monotonous and boring pretty quick. On top of that, the kill animations were mostly the same over and over again. The unlimited murder of thousands of zombies is one of the staples of the Dead Rising series, something that was once so fun and engaging. Could it now be the first step in the demise of the franchise?
The lack of co-op story mode play is one thing I think a lot of people have a major issue with. I enjoyed playing with my friend in Dead Rising 2, maybe even preferred it over playing by myself. Playing with someone else in the massive sandbox that is Dead Rising always ended up in some hilarious situations. You’d be playing together, but you can go an hour without even seeing each other, then out of nowhere you turn a corner and there’s your buddy mowing down zombies with a sledge-saw. Dead Rising 4 is depriving us of this feature, and I think it was a big mistake on Capcom’s part not involving this in the game.
In lieu of the beloved co-op mode, Capcom has given us an episodic-style, 4 person co-op multiplayer campaign. Unfortunately, this mode doesn’t quite work. Too many times did the match freeze, a team mate was kicked, or the round just straight up doesn’t start forcing a restart. Frustrating that the replacement for the mode we wanted doesn’t even work.
As per the norm, glitches are ever present from frame rate stutters to textures not loading in completely. There was a ton of clipping, whether it is through walls, zombies, cars, or even the ground. Speaking of the ground, I fell through it a couple times. That was fun. The lip sync wasn’t the best either.
Dead Rising 4 delivers a fun zombie slaying game set to the pro-consumerism backdrop of Christmas that is sure to make fans of the series happy. Fans of Frank West may be disappointed as the charm of the wiseass photojournalist is almost non-existent due to the major VA change. In my opinion, this game would be better for a newcomer to the series rather than a die-hard fan like yours truly, but is still crazy fun and a new Christmas classic.