If you haven’t had your fill of zombie destruction from Dead Rising 1, 2 and 3 in the ten years since the first edition was released, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the fourth chapter in Capcom’s survival horror punch-up has arrived. Unlike the other instalments in the Dead Rising series, Dead Rising 4 doesn’t offer co-op gameplay or a timer system – it’s just you, as Frank West, and a whole lot of goofy and gratuitous zombie slaughter.
Let’s set the scene. It’s the holiday season in Colorado, and yet another mysterious outbreak means that the snowy streets and jingle bell tunes of this open-world setting are getting crushed under the weight of a slew of zombies. The decision to bring back Frank West for this game was a good one, as his winter wise-cracking and sarcastic pop culture references may well be the only saving grace in an otherwise repetitive round of zombie-bashing.
Sure, there are plenty of fun new weapons to play with. One of the much beloved traits of the previous Dead Rising games has been the array of nonsense available with which to destroy the undead, and on that front Dead Rising 4 does not disappoint.
If you’re a button-basher then you’ll probably really enjoy this game, because button-bashing is what you’re going to be doing. The same kill animations are repeated over and over, which takes some of the joy out of finding new and enticing weaponry to go on the hunt with, and killing zombies is more about hitting any given button as many times as possible than anything else.
The producers have made a vague attempt to diversify the combat by adding in actual human soldiers as well as groaning zombies, which are rightly far more agile than your initial opponents and pose more of a challenge as you make your way around the game. The only problem with the soldiers is the impossibility of winning. Some of the least enjoyable moments in the game come from OTT encounters with boss-level characters who you face with no way to defend against ranged attacks, and the thrill of a challenge quickly turns to frustration when you find yourself stuck in the same a repetitive fight for hours before you can progress.
Outside of being killed over and over again by soldiers and slashing rotting meat with your latest novelty weapon, the game involves undertaking investigative tasks with Frank’s camera, scouting for clues and capturing evidence. This semi-plotline could have been a real selling point for the game, but as we all know the focus is on killing zombies, it remains underwhelming and half-explored.
Of course, it’s not like the game isn’t any fun at all. Shooting garden gnomes at zombies and riding around on a wheelchair laden with cannons are enjoyable, for a time. While the open-world setting may not be as interactive and exciting as it could be, the removal of the timer from the game means you have plenty of freedom to roam around blowing up hundreds and hundreds of undead opponents, and you can goof around with novelty costumes and weaponry to your hearts content.
Overall, Dead Rising 4 just doesn’t have the thrill that the original game had – back when being able to animate hordes of zombies in a shopping mall was impressive all by itself. You can have a few hours of fun playing the new release, sure, but it’s likely you’re going to tire of the novelties quickly. Perhaps this is one series that would have been better left un-resurrected.