Dead Rising 4 (Xbox One)
Frank West returns to Willamette Mall 16 years after the first outbreak. Once again tasked with getting to the bottom of a government conspiracy, West must contend with new threats, including enhanced zombies and a military offshoot with advanced weaponry and Exo Suits. Using his skills as a photographer and his survivalist instincts, West must confront his deadliest enemy yet if he hopes to save one of this students and expose the truth about what is going on in Willamette.
- A return to the quirky, zany, and hilarious antics that Dead Rising fans have grown to love
- A much bigger open-world than previous games in the series with lots to do in-between missions
- Countless hours of zombie-slaying madness thanks to the returning combo system for weapons and vehicles
15-20 hours for the main campaign
December 6th, 2016
Xbox One, PC
Developer: Capcom Game Studio Vancouver
Rating: M for Mature
Dead Rising 4 marks the return of series-favorite protagonist, Frank West. This time around, West is a college professor who gets dragged back to Willamette by a student to investigate military offshoot Obscuris during a new zombie outbreak. Using the zany combo weapons and vehicles the series has come to be known for, Frank will also rely on his newly-enhanced camera to take photos for investigations and solve the mystery of the newest Willamette outbreak.
Dead Rising 4 is a really violent game. Much like, Killing Floor 2, blood, gore, and other viscera are scattered across the environments as players slay zombies (via dismembering and decapitation) and other hostile humans. Occasionally, finishing blows are exaggerated using slow-motion and zoomed-in camera angles. However, the often alarmingly dark and overly violent death scenes after defeating bosses have been toned down from prior Dead Rising games.
Frank can cross-dress if he picks up women’s clothes. However, this is more to add to the overall goofiness of the game than a statement about sexuality or sexual orientation. There is no nudity in the game, though Frank does at times make lewd comments and sexually derogatory jokes at the expense of those he encounters in Willamette.
Frank doesn’t hesitate to use harsh language. Neither do the Obscuris goons and other human enemies he encounters. Words like f*&k, sh*&, motherf*&ker, and even godd$#n are used frequently. Sometimes the language is intended to add humor to the situation, while other times it feels as though it’s shoehorned in for the sake of the game’s rating.
There is a lot that can be said about Frank West. After all, he has covered wars, ya know? In Dead Rising 4, West reluctantly returns to Willamette at the behest of one of his current students, Vick, to investigate the actions of a new military offshoot known as Obscuris. What Obscuris is doing in Willamette at the site of the first zombie outbreak is unclear. Thanks to West’s trusty new camera and much-improved photography mechanics, the game’s introduction is one long investigation that plays out via stealth, the series’ traditional zombie killing, and these new photography mechanics.
Vick has installed a new filter on Frank’s camera, which not only allows him to light up dark areas using Night Vision but also allows him to use another filter to identify hidden safes, safe rooms, or collectibles in the environment. The pair’s investigation is cut short, and Frank is left behind in Willamette just weeks before the start of a new zombie outbreak at the Willamette Memorial Megaplex Mall on Black Friday. At this point, the game truly begins, as players are shown a brief, comic strip-style time lapse leading up to two weeks before Christmas. Here, Frank is visited by returning character Brad Park, who was a playable DLC character in Dead Rising 3. Park convinces West to return with him to Willamette to find Frank’s former student, Vick, and uncover the cause of the new outbreak. From this point, players are left to their own devices and can freely explore the mall and surrounding city.
Exploration is perhaps the best part of Dead Rising 4, as there is no longer the annoying time limit mechanic holding players back from truly being able to enjoy the game. This makes playing Dead Rising 4 far less stressful and allows players to really sink their teeth into the available content. Just like in previous installments, collectibles are everywhere. This time around, however, they come in varying shapes and sizes. Graffiti tags are well-hidden and can only be collected using Frank’s camera. Some may only be visible using certain filters, like Night Vision. Combo weapons and vehicle blueprints make their triumphant return with even more zany combinations than before. Want to make a bomb that causes an ice tornado? Find a vacuum cleaner and some explosives and you can do just that. How about a sword that freezes enemies on contact? Combine liquid nitrogen with any bladed weapon and it’s yours. You cannot build certain weapons without first finding their corresponding blueprints, though. This is where another returning mechanic has been updated and refined for a much better gameplay experience.
Safe houses come in two forms in Dead Rising 4. First, most stores in the mall and the surrounding city have hidden safe rooms stocked with weapons and healing items. Second, emergency shelters are scattered around the city, and these act as fast-travel points between the shelter and mall, which is conveniently located in the middle of the map.
Once an emergency shelter has been cleared of all zombies, survivors trapped inside will sell Frank various items and weapons. This is where players can try out certain combo weapons, even if they have not yet found the necessary blueprints. Players can also purchase maps that reveal all safe rooms, audio logs, blueprints, and so on, within a given area. These items are purchased with currency collected from completing missions, leveling up, and slaughtering the undead.
Dead Rising 4 doesn’t have to work very hard to maintain the series’ trademark humor and goofiness. Frank can still wear just about any clothing he finds, including Servbot heads from Megaman and a snowman helmet that allows him to freeze zombies and shoot icicles, effectively turning him into Mei from Overwatch. He can even cross-dress, parading around in heels and panty hose, slaughtering zombies as he goes.
Dead Rising 4 drops the ball in one key area, however: the bosses. Gone are the humorous, disturbingly dark psychopaths from previous Dead Rising games. Now, bosses take the form of Maniacs who are slightly-more-powerful, hostile human survivors. Most combo weapons can take them out with ease, effectively making Frank an unstoppable killing machine. Another problem is that there are no longer intro scenes or over-the-top death scenes to signal the beginning and end of these boss encounters. As someone who found the psychopaths to be the best part of Dead Rising‘s past games, it]s sad to see them take a back seat in this installment.
Any survivors Frank rescues in Dead Rising 4 reset after he leaves an area, effectively setting them up as a way to farm PP, the game’s experience points. I miss having a small army of survivors armed to the teeth at my disposal like they were in previous installments. On the flipside, I think the game’s story is better for it, despite these flaws.
This time around, the plot is far more streamlined and focused than it was in Dead Rising 3, and there aren’t nearly as many main characters to keep up with. While it starts out slow, the plot’s overarching mystery ramps up toward the end of the game, as players encounter terrifying, much stronger enemies that are noticeably harder than the otherwise ridiculously easy foes. One point of contention for most fans going into Dead Rising 4 is that Frank seems noticeably younger and sounds different than in previous games. This is because Frank is now voiced by Victor Nosslo who, in my opinion, makes Frank a far more likeable character. There were moments in the game where I almost felt like I was playing as Deadpool, as Frank’s one-liners can threaten to break the fourth wall.
Overall, fans of the series should be pleased to finally have what is essentially the definitive Dead Rising experience. No longer must players rush through the game to get the best ending, pressured by an ever-present, ever-decreasing time limit. While the boss battles have lost their luster, nearly everything else about the game is stronger for it. Dead Rising 4 is a game players can lose hours with, from something as simple as running around and goofing off. The most liberating and accessible Dead Rising yet, this is everything the first three titles should have been. Dead Rising 4 should not be missed, especially for fans of the franchise.
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+ No more time limits
+ Combo weapons are plentiful, hilarious, and pack a punch
+ A stronger, more focused story
- Changes to the bosses, intro cutscenes, and death scenes takes away from the allure of seeking out these optional, but often fulfilling, side-missions
- The survivor system has been seriously handicapped