09 December 2016 (released)
The legendary zombie slayer Frank West has returned (beside from a different voice) to investigate a tip of strange events at an isolated military base near his favourite town, Willamette. His student Vicki abandons Frank at the military base and a new zombie outbreak begins with a sinister military organisation and plenty of psychopaths to deal with as well.
Frank goes on the run but after a few weeks is visited by former Special Forces badass Brad (Dead Rising 3) and together they return to Willamette when the outbreak reaches critical point just after the Black Friday sales. Frank armed with his camera and skill of creating insanely brutal weapons to shred his way through the hordes.
It’s great to get Frank back in the town that started it all, with a new campaign expanding on the lore and brings in a new mystery for this zombie outbreak. The Christmas theme captivates a line of interesting themes on capitalism, greed and materialism. This is all that really stands out from the game’s narrative as it follows the same formula as before. The plot doesn’t push new elements and it’s all repeated from previous titles. The first game was highly innovated with the time structure and not needing to follow the story. Here, the plot is thin with generic zombie story characters, plot twists and no epic developments.
The comedy is well crafted however and Frank himself is more of a buzz compared to previous incarnations. But I don’t understand why we can’t get a narrative with a little depth in the character or have bigger twists and turns that truly engage the player.
Now Capcom has made some serious changes which involve the removal of the time structure which is both good and bad. Of course you get very little replay value and the push of a time limitation was an encouraging form of stress and reward. The time structure also helped benefit the story and keep you invested or allowed you to play through the game multiple times. The world also reacted to you with set events taking place within a time frame.
The time structure removal also encouraged me to explore and with 10 hours just killing zombies, levelling up to rank 70, collecting weapon blueprints and finding survivors was hugely enjoyable. I do prefer to have the time in place and those who buy the season pass can enjoy the return of this. Thanks Capcom for that and trust me, it won’t be worth it.
There’s an immense collective of weapon unlocks, exploration and collectables in the game, making it more engaging than some previous titles. Obtaining weapon blueprints is highly rewarding as the combinations can be just insane when using. However, safe houses are shallow as they act as placements for vendors and while survivor’s encounters are much better in execution. The removal of escort quests is praised but now encounters offer no surprises and come up in the same places again and again. This does make levelling up safe houses a dull experience. But fighting zombies is highly exhilarating and additions such as the Exo suits make short gameplay moments frantically brilliant. The inventory system has also been revamped for major improvement allowing for more destruction and action without interruption.
There are also panic rooms to locate which have blue prints and other goodies which act as very satisfying rewards but many of these changes hold little substance and the overall game is fairly easy. But the gameplay flows better and there are less infuriating elements to deliver crushing blows of cheap kills from the zombie hordes.
Although a major disappointment is the removal of the iconic psychopaths and instead we get watered down alternatives known as maniacs. They appear as the psychopaths you know and love but lack any intro or again substance. Apart from one or two interesting concepts, these maniacs revolve around crazed cultists, football players and people wearing gas masks. There’s little to make them engaging and overall threatening.
Among the problems, Dead Rising 4 is also buggy with a few instances of clipping, glitches in character animations and some mission tracking features were disrupted with the auto save system. It’s slightly shameful to see the game being broken in some aspects but runs really well in others. The zombie count on screen is impressive and the frame rate also holds up well, but there’s plenty wrong popping up a little too often.
The biggest let down is by far the lack of a proper ending. It just ends abruptly and without a real conclusion to finish off what would be a rather good game. There’s also the possibly having to buy the ending as a form of DLC from Capcom which is a complete and total d**k move.
In the end Dead Rising is certainly a mixed bag but has some brilliant factors to push it above some previous titles. The zombie slaying, immense weaponry, destruction and exploration are fantastic and will keep you invested for a huge amount of time. Whereas the thin narrative, removal of classic elements, the buggy nature and lack of ending just make it uncomfortable to pay full price.