Frank West returns in Dead Rising 4 which also see’s the series return to Willamette. With weapon and vehicle combos at your disposal to combat the horde, and new features including new zombie classes and EXO suits. Is Dead Rising 4 the best of the series yet? Read our review to find out..
Dead Rising 4 sees the return of series veteran Frank West in a story that takes him back to the town of Willamette, to deal with another outbreak and is based in the newly built shopping complex similar to the first game but it also takes place outside in certain quarantined areas of the town. The story revolves around a third party trying to harness the virus and turning it in to a money making scheme that could give the highest bidder infinite power over the entire world and it is up to Frank to bring an end to it all but with a few twists and turns along the way. The story really isn’t anything original and it certainly won’t win any awards for its narrative but Frank is as likeable as ever with his witty one-liners and his attitude towards life in general. There are other characters in the game that assist Frank in his journey but none of them seem to have the same appeal and charisma that Frank possesses and I never felt any kind of attachment to them because I found them to be rather dull and not interesting at all.
The single player has a mix of 7 main campaign cases and a bunch of side quests too and depending on how you play depends on the length it will take you to complete, varying from 12 hours to around 25 hours if you do every side quest available as well as getting all collectibles and completing the main story. I started off doing quite a few of the side quests but soon tired of the slightly repetitive nature of them and just decided to stick to the main story while occasionally going off track and exploring the world. There were many times that I found myself wandering off course and having some plain old classic gore filled Dead Rising fun as I experimented with new weapon combinations and trying to increase my hit streak score. It is also worth noting that the infamous timer that Dead Rising games have had in the past is absent from this game so you are free to do what you want with no time restrictions limiting the freedom.
The Dead Rising series is known for having lots of zombies, but there are also human enemies too with gangs based within the town and the mall that will defend against you and anything else that gets in their way but taking them out will result in a fair bit of loot to grab which will assist in giving you XP to level up your skills, give you weapons to use straight away or a blueprint to craft them. Dead Rising games are also famous for being fun filled gory carnage and this is an area where Dead Rising 4 doesn’t disappoint, as it is for the most part, bags of fun and as I initially explored the shopping mall I found I had access to quite a lot straight away in terms of weaponry and crafting along with so many different attires that go from being pretty standard to being utterly ridiculous which made me smile more than a few occasions and slaughtering zombies dressed as a Mega Man character or using the excellent Exo-Suit that gives you unlimited power for a certain amount of time, was great fun.
The sheer amount of gore when you are surrounded by a horde of zombies would drench your character in blood and it was a real blast experimenting with all the different weapon combinations, testing them out on hundreds of the undead at any one time and seeing these crowds of zombies being launched in the air when I used explosive weapons was a joy to see. It is a different story when you get outside the mall though, as I felt that there wasn’t as much to experiment with and I almost felt distanced from the core experience of the game every time I had an objective in the town area that I had to complete and it felt like two separate games rolled in to one at times and more than once ended up going back in the mall, not to do any objectives but to just have some fun with all the wonderful toys at my disposal. The multiplayer side to Dead Rising 4 is separate to the single player campaign as there is no co-op in the main story, which I feel could have been added, especially with the amount of other characters involved in the story. The online mode is a kind of horde mode that gives you objectives to do as a team while fighting off various waves of zombies with it ending in a boss fight and the further you get in to the waves the more you level up giving you access to better crafting and weapons and while this was fun at first I could see the appeal wearing off fairly quickly as there really wasn’t much to it and I constantly felt drawn to jumping straight back in to the fun filled single player part of the game.
As fun as Dead Rising 4 is, there is a lot wrong with it too and to put it bluntly this game is a bit of a technical mess at times. On more than a few occasions I would see floating zombies passing my character in mid air, I would see zombies stuck in the environment, some would sink through the floor once I had killed them and some would just stand still while I tried to beat them but with no success, it is almost as if the AI hadn’t activated. There would even be times when I would be fighting a horde and they would just vanish in to thin air, then re-appear randomly in a different place to where they were originally, then there were times when some human enemies wouldn’t trigger and they would stand completely still allowing me to loot their base without a single shot fired or melee move needed and at times even AI characters on my side would glitch out and just walk around in circles giving me no choice but to restart the checkpoint to reset the AI as I couldn’t progress without them.
The visuals in Dead Rising 4 aren’t bad but at the same time they’re not great either and I certainly expected a bit of a step up from the previous game in terms of its visuals but I actually don’t think it looks as good as Dead Rising 3 does. The lighting effects stand out though with some lovely effects from the night time street lamps shining on the hordes of zombies and the glistening of the blood filled streets, which at times looked really good. One thing that really impressed me though was the sheer amount of zombies on screen at one time, it was simply chaos at times but it was good chaos, fun filled gory chaos and considering the amount of zombies that were surrounding me, the frame rate rarely dipped and I only experienced light dips when there was a hell of a lot going on, its just unfortunate that it is all spoilt by the technical short falls, which is completely unacceptable for a game of this size and with there being so many faults that have obviously slipped through the net too.
In terms of the overall gameplay, the shooting and melee mechanics are decent enough, not great but passable all the same but the frustration started to kick in whenever there was a time I had to climb or jump over something, because it was incredibly clunky to do and on more than a few occasions I would be hop skipping and jumping along a wall trying to grab on which was especially frustrating if I had a horde after me and I had no health replenishments. The vehicle handling is pretty awful too for the majority of what was on offer for me to drive, especially the motorcycles, as they were almost impossible to control with stupidly over sensitive steering. The only time I felt a vehicle was worth using was if it was a big sized vehicle that either I had created or I had found on the street, as I could just plow through hordes of zombies, but in terms of getting from A to B then it was just a nightmare to do with any other vehicle.
There were also times when the camera would be an issue as it would move to questionable positions, mainly when I was against a wall under attack or in a small confined space like a house in the town. The positives in the gameplay though came in the form of the melee combat with a host of weapon combinations to craft and try out, each one felt the way it should and they were satisfying to use. One of my favorite parts about the close combat was the Stealth Selfie move where you could sneak up on a zombie in the camera view and by hitting the B button grab them for a gory selfie followed by a kill, which was a fun little addition to your camera which you could also use to solve various puzzles and investigations around the map with various different vision modes.