Anyone who knows me knows that I love the Dead Rising series; it is one of my favorite franchises of all time, with the first Dead Rising one of my favorite games ever. So, last year when I heard Dead Rising 4 announced at E3 2016 and that fans would be returning to Willamette I was excited. Unfortunately, having played this game on Xbox One, PC, and now PS4 in the form of Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package, I would have to say that Dead Rising 4 has yet to live up to the glory of the first game (and even the second).
Set one year after the events of Dead Rising 3 (and 16 years after the events of the original game), Dead Rising 4 puts players back in the role of everyone’s favorite freelance photojournalist, Frank West. The main story has Frank traveling back to Willamette, Colorado which is currently suffering another zombie outbreak. Mr. West is hell-bent on unraveling the mystery and discovering the secrets as to what caused the zombie outbreak.
The pinnacle of a sequel plot, I did feel towards the end of the game that it just dragged on. Additionally, after the main story ends players can take part in an additional DLC story — titled Frank Rising — where Mr. West turns into a zombie himself. It doesn’t help the fact that the main story does not have a timer, but it is available in Frank Rising. I never understood the decision for this; I wasn’t sure if it was an excuse to explore the in-game world or what, but there isn’t that much to find in-game, so it kind of defeats the purpose.
Regarding the overall narrative, I have no issue with it… for the most part. While minimal, I found the story a bit more interesting than Dead Rising 3‘s. What I enjoyed was how Capcom added comic book animations into the narrative; they were colorful, and it was a nice change from just seeing the pre-rendered cutscenes.
However, the story is not my biggest complaint — instead, it’s Frank West himself. First, let me start off with his character model: he looks shockingly younger, which is weird considering the fact that the events in this game took place 16 years after the original title. His original Dead Rising and even Off the Record models look older. Secondly, I hate this version of Frank West. Unlike previous titles, he comes across as a complete asshole, and there were times when I had to mute the game. His personality just irritated me, an upsetting fact given that Frank West is one of my favorite video game characters.
Just like the previous installments, Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package gameplay is from a third-person perspective and offers its an abundance of ways to slay the hordes zombies plaguing the streets of Willamette. You can use the traditional weapons such as baseball bats or firearms, but you would be doing yourself a disservice; the crown of this game lies within the combo weapons and vehicles. Speaking of vehicles, driving in this game has improved from the third installment, although riding in them feels a bit too floaty for me personally.
Several combo weapons from previous entries, such as the laser sword and Pummel Blast from Dead Rising 3 (which has been renamed as Blast from the Past in this title). While several combo weapons from past installments make a return, a lot of new weapons have been introduced; my personal favorite was the ice sword because you can freeze your enemies. Combo vehicles also return and offer new creative ways for you to hop into a car and plow through the undead, although there aren’t many vehicles combinations provided, which is somewhat disappointing.
Fortunately, there is another alternative in the form of Exo Suits, when you have one of these bad boys on you have unlimited stamina, plus I found it to be faster to travel in the Exo Suit than in an actual vehicle. Unfortunately, the Exo Suit only lasts for two minutes before it breaks so monitoring the charge meter is essential. While at first, I found it disappointing, I can understand why Capcom limited us to such a short time because the Exo Suits are incredibly overpowered and considering this game is already easy enough as it is, the Exo Suits having an infinite charge would be ridiculous.
Visually the game is beautiful running Dead Rising 4 on my PlayStation 4 was damn near perfect and I did not have any performance problems at all in my playthrough with no hard crashes when I played through the title. I enjoyed traversing through this gory winter wonderland while slicing and dicing through zombies.
Despite the overall base game and Frank Rising being painfully mediocre, the crown of Frank’s Big Package is Capcom Heroes, which allows you to cosplay as your favorite Capcom characters — each with their own unique abilities with each costume lasting for five minutes before disappearing. So if you wanted to dress up as Ryu and perform a helicopter kick on a group of zombies, well damn it this mode will let you!
The more you play, the more costumes and abilities you can acquire. Overall, Capcom Heroes is the physical embodiment of fan service and that by no means is criticism because I genuinely enjoyed this mode and all its wackiness. The series as a whole has always had a comedic approach to the zombie genre; there is no denying that the Capcom Heroes mode is the definitive way to experience Dead Rising 4 and is one of the best modes the game offers, in my opinion.
Additionally, another mode titled Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf is available, but it is more of a diversion from the game itself. This mode is an excuse for you to thrash zombies on a golf course while racking up the best score. While the mode itself is slightly dry, those looking to continue playing after the main story ends this is an excellent way to do so.
Overall, Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package tends to cater more to casual fans of the zombie genre. As someone who loves the franchise, I cannot say that this game is neither good nor bad. There is plenty of replayability in Frank’s Big Package, there is no denying that and while this game is inferior to the original regarding overall quality, the addition of Capcom Heroes as well as refining all the gameplay and combat issues I had with previous installments still made it enjoyable. Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package is a game worth playing if you’re a fan of the series solely because of the new features, however, regarding the single-player story it felt more like a one and done for me.