Title: Dead Rising 4
Platform: PC and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: Had a bad day? Boot this sucker up.
Price: $60 / £30
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

Poor Frank West. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time. After the events of the original Dead Rising and Dead Rising Case Zero, our heroic photographer is back, but this time, he goes back to where it all began: Willamette. In 2022, West is approached by one of his students, Vicky Chu, who convinces him to investigate a Willamette military base where the outbreak first leaked. And well, from there, shit hits the fan.

In case you’ve never heard of the Dead Rising, the game is an open world experience where players have to survive wave after wave of zombies, all the while solving cases to reach the end and maybe saving a few NPCs here and there. While the game features a story, it’s main focus is the franchise’s staple of crafting weapons by finding blueprints along with the required parts.

The combat is interesting and quite cathartic. Like most button mashers/hack ‘n slash games, this game features a light and heavy attack. The former are quite useful when taking out a mob of zombies, while the latter will provide a bigger punch, but players still remain vulnerable to enemy attacks. West can carry three types of weapons at a time: melee, firearms and throwable. As with previous iterations, once your weapon breaks (or you run out of ammo), you’ll need to find a replacement quick if you don’t want to end up as zombie chow. The game provides a meter under the icon of the weapon,  so players can assess when the weapon is about to become useless.

The shooting mechanic is one of the game’s weakest element. While it’s easy to carefully aim at wandering zombies, but against an army of soldiers? Not so much. Soldiers are quite efficient at shooting while you scramble to aim properly, making things quite frustrating. Throwable weapons includes explosives such as grenades and dynamite sticks, if you’d rather inflict painfully slow deaths to the waves of the undead, you can always throw nails or vinyls. However, it’s always more fun throwing a grenade into a horde of zombies and watch them explode from afar.

As players button mash their way through hordes of zombies, they’ll increase their combo meter that, once filled, allows players to execute a pretty badass finishing move based on the weapon West is currently carrying. Problem is, some of the finishing moves look weird due to visual glitches (more on that below), and with controls not always being fully responsive; pressing the required button combo of Y&B won’t always execute the finisher. As players take out the army of the undead, they’ll earn XP which in turn rewards players with Skill points that can be used to improve the protagonist’s abilities. As the game progresses, this becomes vital as soldiers become tougher and the number of zombies increases.

The game also features some co-op multiplayer fun. With up to 4 friends, players can tackle a multiplayer exclusive campaign which features four cases that can be tackled. Don’t expect anything different than the single player, as it’s basically the same formula without an extensive story and bit more difficulty, even with friends. If you’re done with the main campaign and fancy a challenge, you can tackle the multiplayer “story,” solo as well; however, expect a tougher challenge.

The main problem I have with this game is the questionable hit detection. Often times, players will find themselves surrounded by zombies, which is expected and the point of the game. However, with so many zombies, you’ll often see West’s health bar eaten up, but the enemies’ movement are so scrambled and poorly “made,” that it’s quite difficult to figure who’s the immediate threat, so just swing and hope for the best. The other issue is, while fun, the combat gets repetitive and boring quickly. I often found myself running towards the next objective (or side-quest) instead of bashing zombies. And on the flipside, after a shit work day, I’d just load up the game to beat up zombies for about 10 -15 minutes, until I got bored. Another unfortunate issue is the shooting mechanic. While it does work well against the undead, facing off against soldiers makes it frustrating. Clunky controls mixed with fast enemies and lack of cover mechanics makes for a anger-filled firefight.

Presentation wise is where the game loses some of its appeal. The game’s visuals are very sub-par compared to what we’ve been used to this gen. It looks as if the game was developed using an engine built for last-gen, which is unfortunate because it could’ve been something special. The aforementioned finishers could’ve brought a Mortal Kombat-like gruesome to the game, unfortunately, they are usually poorly done or sometimes you have to wonder what Frank was trying to pull off. On the sound-side of things, the overall score is pretty forgettable and NPC voiceovers quite laughable. Fortunately, the new guy voicing Frank West, Ty Olsson, made a half decent job. I’ll be honest when I say that at first, I was tempted to mute the TV because he came off as an annoying, arrogant ass; however, the more I played, the more he grew on me. Interesting remarks and mediocre jokes here and there made me chuckle a bit.

Dead Rising 4 is a surprisingly fun game which is much more approachable than previous entries. Unfortunately, the fun is short lived. Players are sure to get a kick of bashing zombies’ heads in with a plethora of weapons, but the whole thing falls apart. It gets boring very quick and the bland mission design won’t help matter. One of the game’s strong point (weapon crafting) is unfortunately dragged down due to a clumsy combat mechanic (shooting or melee) and makes for a frustrating experiment. Additionally, the game’s presentation feels last-gen; while I haven’t played Dead Rising 3 yet, from what I’ve seen, DR4 looks worse than an Xbox One Launch game. At full price? Pass. Wait for a price drop or when it’s in the bargain bin, then you’ll get your money’s worth.

The Good

  • Craft weapons on the go
  • Very cathartic
  • Great weapon variety

The Bad

  • Questionable detection
  • Last gen visuals
  • Gets repetitive quick

Family Focus

Dead Rising 4 is rated M for Mature/PEGI 18 because blood. I mean, players squashes zombies left and right… with blood everywhere…

This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher