Dead Rising 1 and Dead Rising 2 are some of the most fun and unique games I have ever played. Dead Rising 3 came along and while it was still an extremely fun game, it just felt like something was off. It felt more like classic Dead Rising and the fact that it was moving towards it's own series with all of the changes that they made. Still, it retained a lot about what made the Dead Rising what it was. So here we are in 2016 and Dead Rising 4 is here. Capcom stated that they wanted this game to back to it's roots with the return of Frank West and Willamette, the setting for the first game. Well I have played Dead Rising 4 and I can safely say that this did not go back to it's roots at all. In fact, it's probably as far away from it's original roots as possible. Is Dead Rising 4 a good game? Yes it is. It's an extremely fun game as well. Is this a good Dead Rising game? No, not at all, in fact, this is probably the worst Dead Rising game yet.
Dead Rising 4 features the return of the original Dead Rising protagonist, Frank West, who has been absent from the series since the first game if you don't count the non-canon "Dead Rising 2: Off The Record". It's been a number of years since the original outbreak and Frank West is now a professor at a college teaching photo journalism. One of this students, Vicky Chu, decides that she wants to take him mini golfing, because he loves mini golfing. It's only at this point when Frank realizes he's been had and she's really taking him back to Willamette, the location of the zombie outbreak from the first game because she wants to investigate rumors of some shady activity that's been going on there. Some stuff goes down, Vick and Frank get separated and then Frank has to go on the run from the law because he gets the blame for the incident. Cut to later when the Willamette memorial mall opens for Black Friday... and wouldn't you know it another zombie outbreak starts. While on the run and teaching as "Hank East" he gets visited by the FBI and convinced to go back to Wilamette and investigate because he knows Willamette better than anyone. The other reason is because Vicky is already there and he doesn't want her to get the credit for the story. From here the game plays out as you would expect and you are set off on your own where you can find anything that isn't nailed down to use against the non stop zombie hoard coming at you.
Back again from Dead Rising 2 and 3 are the combo weapons where you can take two weapons like a Christmas Wreath and electronics to create an electric shock collar or a grenades and a sledgehammer to create "blast from the past" where sledgehammer blows will explode on contact. One of the big differences between Dead Rising 4 and previous games is that the inventory system is different. In past games all of your items and food were put into a single inventory list. Now they are broken up into four different categories. Thrown weapons, melee weapons, firearms and food. It certainly makes things more manageable, but it's annoying how you can no longer throw melee items and to drop an item you have to open up the inventory and then press the X button instead of just dropping it by pressing down on the d-pad. The down button is now for your food items and Willamette is loaded with food so you always want to have a few items on hand at a time. Even if you don't it's still pretty easy to fend off zombies as your health system this time is a set amount instead of having hit points like the previous games.
This game is probably the easiest Dead Rising game yet. There are no difficulty settings in this game and food is literally everywhere. I only died a few times during the campaign and that wasn't even because of zombies (more on that later). The other thing that makes this game pretty easy is the fact that you level up rather quickly. After earning PP you earn levels which can they be applied to four different skill trees. The skill trees vary enough to let you play the way you want to play and allow you to level up weapon damage, your total health, inventory slots, critical hit damage, stamina and more. You earn levels so quickly that you pretty much feel invisible after only a few hours of play and never once when I was playing through the story did I feel like I was in any kind of danger. Speaking of feeling invisible, Dead Rising 4 features the new exo suit weapons. Littered throughout Willamette you will find crates featuring these exo suits. These suits will essentially turn you into a zombie slaughtering machine. I got my combo meter up to about 2000 kills with an upgraded exo suit that let me create ice tornados that will rip through hundreds of zombies in seconds. The exo suits are on a timer so you can use them forever unless it's part of a main story mission. That said, the exo suits are extremely fun to use.
Speaking of the original Dead Rising games, A lot of other things present in older Dead Rising games are all but forgotten at this point. Gone is the time limit from previous games where you had to complete the main story missions or else the truth would be lost forever. Without time limits you can do story missions whenever you want. The other thing that is gone are Psychopaths from previous entries. They are now replaced with "Maniacs" but these are nothing like the original psychopaths, nor are they as fun. In the previous game, the person who you communicated with over the walkie talkie would let you know that some strange individuals were up to no good in various locations around the map. When you met these characters, they would all have cutscenes that introduced them and would give a little backstory as to how these characters ended up how they did. They were also mini boss battles that, with their own attack and movement patterns that you would have to learn in order to defeat them. They would earn you major cash, PP and a couple of survivors upon completion.
In Dead Rising 4, maniacs are simply just normal survivors that have more health than usual and are incredibly easy to kill. I defeated a few of them but after that I really had no desire to try and go after any more of them because their battles were incredibly short and incredibly boring. Speaking of survivors, this is the other big change. Survivors are still on the map but it seems like they show up randomly. Usually they will be stranded on top of a car or out in a field and you will have to clear all the zombies away from them. In previous games, you could have to escort them back to the safe house to earn PP. This time however, they just run off on their own and that's it. They are never seen again unlike the other games where you could see them in the safe houses. This time around saving survivors will level up your safe house, which will let you but new outfits, vehicles, blue prints and weapons from the vendors within. The AI for survivors in the previous games was so/so at best, but at the very least it was still fun to try and get them to safety instead of them just disappearing once you save them.
I will say this though and that is the setting of the game, which takes place at Christmas time in Millamette. Christmas is all over this game. From Christmas songs constantly playing on loop in the pause menus and while driving in cars, to all of the Christmas decorations all over the mall and all over town and even some Christmas themed combo weapons. This is one thing that they really got right and I actually would love to see more games with Christmas themes like this. October to December is my favorite time of year and I am one of those people who absolutely love the Christmas spirit and atmosphere. I love the snow, the decorations, the music and I love watching movies like a Christmas Story, Jingle All The Way and Home Alone this time of year. Playing Dead Rising 4 could easily become a yearly tradition because of this.
Aside from killing zombies though, which is still tons of fun, there really isn't that much that Dead Rising 4 has to offer. The story is pretty much the same thing that we have played through time and time again. Zombie outbreak, government cover ups, traitors, etc. At the very least, the story is decent enough, that is until you get to the end of the story and it becomes a complete mess. Dead Rising 4 goes from the open world game to a linear action game where the zombies become an absolute annoyance more than anything else. You will get a warning when you are about to get to this part in the story that says "beyond this point you will be unable to explore Willamette". This was the only time in the game when I died because you have to go through these incredibly annoying sequences where you have to outrun explosions or chase after people while they are throwing flashbang grenades at you. The slightest stumble, the slightest hesitation and you are dead. This section of the game is incredibly obnoxious as well because the zombies are constantly in your way and you have no time at all to fight them off. It's like and NFL game where the running back has to find a hole to get though and get the first down. You are going to have to be running through hoards of zombies, hoping you can find some kind of hole you can pass through. As for the ending of the story, I honestly don't really know what happened because there was a major glitch I encountered once I got to the final boss where all of the in game dialogue, including the subtitles just disappeared. Not that it mattered because the story is pretty standard and I even without the voices or subtitles, it was pretty obvious what was gonna happen. The one thing I do have a problem with is how abruptly the game ends. I won't give away the ending, but the story DLC that is coming up makes perfect sense now, which is pretty awful in my opinion. The only thing missing from the ending was a message saying "continue the adventure in the upcoming DLC".
There is also the multiplayer component which features four player co-op. Unfortunately, this is not the free roam co-op that has been in previous Dead Rising games. In Dead Rising 4, the multiplayer is a side story of four of the survivors that you encounter in the story mode. You pick before any of the four characters and then have to com. You will start out in a specific location and are then told to gather as many weapons and food items as you can. After a timer runs out you are given a mission. This mission usually involves clearing out all of the zombies at a certain store in the mall. Once that objective is complete then you will be able to freely roam the mall for a few in game hours as a new safe room is found for you. While you are freely roaming around the mall you are given side objectives that can earn your online character scrap and PP. These objectives usually involve killing zombies like "Kill 50 zombies", "Kill 75 zombies". Once a few hours in the mall have passed a new safe room will be located on the map and you will have two minutes to get to that location to complete the level. After completing a number of objectives, new episodes will unlock for you to play. While this multiplayer is really fun, it's not really a replacement for those who liked to free roam around with friends like the previous games.
All in all Dead Rising 4 is a fun game. Killing thousands of zombies with whatever you can get your hands on is great and the Christmas theme works really well, but if you are going into this game hoping for a classic Dead Rising experience, you are gonna be out of luck. This game is really only Dead Rising in name only. Nothing about this game is "going back to our roots" like they said it was. Simply having Frank West and a shopping mall does not make a Dead Rising game. Just about everything that did make a Dead Rising game has been removed at this point. What's left is a fun, zombie slashing, open world game. Nothing more, nothing less.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively. It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 29 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. And for the record... I enjoyed the Mass Effect 3 ending... sue me