It's been a few years but Capcom's B movie zombie series is back with a familiar zombie-slaughtering hero. Step aside Nick because Frank's here to remind us how badass the OG of Dead Rising is. The question is: does he still have what it takes?
That's right; Dead Rising 4 puts you in the blood-covered shoes of Frank West who starred in the original game. Thankfully, his irreverent nature brings along loads of hilarious moments during the adventure that'll have you genuinely laugh out loud. The story begins with him being a journalism professor as he goes on a mission with Vicky Chu (one of his students). Her righteous attitude and thirst for justice conflicts with Frank's desire to follow the rules of his job and this contrast causes both humorous and desperate situations. Although the characters in the previous game were a bit too stereotypical, I must say that these two offer an impressive dynamic that I thoroughly enjoyed watching unfold throughout the campaign. Frank's hilarious one-liners, goofy face whenever you take a selfie, and generally badass nature makes him a joy to play as and I'm glad that he's back.
Throughout the dozen-hour or so long campaign, you'll discover loads of different weapons, items, collectibles, and vehicles. This is a staple of the series but I found the variety in Dead Rising 4 to possibly be the most satisfying yet. This is especially true when it comes to enemies since you'll fight regular, fresh, and evolved zombies, hostile survivors, military personnel, and a few distinct maniacs. Battling these enemy forces with an arsenal of imaginative weapon combinations is great fun but what's even more enjoyable is taking them on while equipped with an Exo Suit. This suit makes Frank much more powerful and allows him to carry heavy objects as well as apply upgrades by doing things such as disassembling an arcade machine to put the parts on his suit so he can shoot out electricity.
As you can see, things sure can get crazy. On the other end of the spectrum, some portions have you use your newly upgraded camera to investigate scenes. You now have night vision and a spectrum analyzer so piecing together clues is more involving than ever. For example, you can photograph a keypad in order to see the most used buttons and figure out the combination. Other missions may have you chase certain characters, clear zombies out of safe houses, and rescue trapped survivors. The mix of action-intense zombie-slaying with more relaxed moments is accomplished well and will keep you hooked until the end.
Even with all of this variety, it saddens me to say that there aren't really any memorable boss fights. Whereas Dead Rising 3 had seven psychopaths that were a blast to battle, the maniacs featured here are simply regular enemies wearing goofy costumes for the most part. For someone who loved this aspect of Dead Rising 3, I'm rather disappointed. Not to spoil anything, but the last boss isn't even that enjoyable. Sure, it goes on for a while but I beat it on the first attempt and thought after it fell, "Is that it?"
Just like in Dead Rising 3, there is no mandatory time limit in the campaign. Some gamers will prefer this while others may find that it takes a lot of the survival component out of the equation. That being said, I find that Dead Rising 3 handled the time limit best because it wasn't mandatory yet you could try to finish the campaign as fast as you can and be rewarded with a better ending as a result. Therefore, it's disappointing that Dead Rising 4 doesn't currently feature any alternate endings or incentives to play efficiently. In essence, you can just play however you want and are never really rewarded for your abilities.
Although the campaign is mostly enjoyable, Dead Rising 4 features yet another mode that has the potential to add hours of additional gameplay in the form of online cooperative multiplayer. Here, you and up to three other folks play as characters from a selection of four: Isaac Tremaine, Jessa Yatsuda, Jordan Maxwell, and Connor McMann. These characters are quite generic but thankfully the episodic mission-based survival gameplay more than makes up for that. You basically complete randomly assigned missions in order to unlock further episodes that take place in different parts of Willamette. It's very fun and is a great way to work together with fellow fans.
It goes without saying that the production values of Dead Rising 4 are as high quality as you'd expect. The visuals are fantastic with menacing hordes of zombies and attractive environments while the music and voice acting are spot-on. However, I noticed many visual glitches as I played through the campaign that took me out of the experience. More than once, the entire background disappeared for a split second which made me do a double-take. Other times, zombie arms would come through walls and Frank would hoist himself up via nothing but air. I'd expect a game as big as this to be more fine-tuned but instead, it's still rough around the edges.
Dead Rising 4 brings a lot of varied zombie-slaughtering fun to your living room but it also takes a couple of steps back for the series. In the end, there's no denying how much fun you'll have chopping zombies to bits yet you'll also yearn to play previous games in the series after you complete it. Either way you look at it, Frank's return is a solid one that's definitely worth checking out.
- + Frank West is back and funnier than ever
- + Good variety of enemies, missions, and weapons keeps things interesting
- + Online cooperative multiplayer is quite fun
- - Lacks any memorable boss fights
- - No alternate ending or time limit means that you have little incentive to play well
- - Many frequent visual glitches