Capcom’s Dead Rising is back with another entry of zombie-slaughtering, over-the-top adventure that only this franchise can offer. It has been a decade since we were introduced to the world of Dead Rising and its protagonist, Frank West. The first game paid homage to George Romero’s, “Dawn Of The Dead.” It took place in a mall, while a zombie outbreak ravaged a small town. West went in as an investigative journalist and uncovered the secrets behind the outbreak. It has been ten years and we are back in the town of Willamette, Colorado as West. The pieces are all in place but does Dead Rising still offer the same experience it did back then?
West and a budding journalist named Vick are investigating a mysterious facility in order to uncover what is happening out in the boonies. When they discover that the facility is intentionally infecting people with an advanced genome, their paths are split. West is still the arrogant and selfish dude that we remember, while Vick wants to uncover the truth for the greater good.
So, while Vick goes solo searching for truth, West is in big trouble for breaking into the facility and is blamed for the deaths that occurred. West goes into hiding as a wedding photography teacher under the name “Hank East.” He is eventually tracked down and convinced to head back to Willamette in order to find Vick and selfishly get the scoop on the story before she can. So you are sent back into to snow-covered Willamette to uncover what happened on Black Friday that caused the outbreak to happen again.
The map for Willamette is huge. A huge chunk of it is the mall, but with each case you finish, the map unlocks a new area to explore. For example, for the first case you are confined to the mall. Once you enter case 2 it opens up Willamettes Old Town. Each of these areas are huge and contain a lot of ground to discover. Collectibles are scattered throughout. Newspapers, podcasts, cell phones all give you a secondary investigation into ancillary bits of story. Blueprints for new weapons and vehicles are also spread throughout the map. Some are harder to get to than others. For me, it is entirely worth the trouble. I mean, if you want to find a crossbow that shoots swordfish, you are going to have to put the work in.
There is a lot more time to explore too. The dreaded clock from the first three Dead Rising games is gone. So, you aren’t rushing to catch a ride, having to cure your daughter with Zombrex or trying to get ahead of a military missile strike. I enjoyed the freedom but at the same time, the clock put the challenge into the first three games. I can appreciate the change though, so the loss of the clock is not a deal breaker.
The option to head straight to your marked destination is there for you. And if you want to explore the entire area and find all your collectible goodies that option is there for you to. I preferred collecting everything before going after the primary missions. I kinda loved the fact that I didn’t have to hurry along.
Along with searching areas for collectibles, you also run into points of interest that have small side objectives like destroying the enemies satellites, saving survivors from zombies, and fighting small boss fights against ‘maniacs.’ Here comes a real bummer about this game… ‘Maniacs’ take the place of the fan favorite ‘Psychopaths.’
“When I was suddenly a Leprechaun
wielding a chainsaw, I realized
how much I loved this game.
For those that don’t remember, psycho paths were those awesome boss fights that featured people who had lost their minds. These were usually random run ins that would not leave you prepared for battle. Some of the highlights featured a father and son held up in a sporting good store and a chainsaw wielding clown who spent his time around the malls roller coaster. These maniac battles don’t have the same personality that the psychopaths offered. They are also far easier. I want to know why Capcom decided to cut those battles from this entry. But it is missed.
Speaking of Capcom, this game is full of easter eggs. Comic book shops you discover have walls lined with costumes, tee shirts and posters paying homage to Capcom classics. ‘Street Fighter,’ ‘Mega Man,’ and pretty much anything else you can remember from Capcom are all present. This includes, Blanka masks and Mega Man Zero full costumes. All this while the ‘Street Fighter’ soundtrack is blaring through the stores speakers.
There are a ton of new combo weapons to craft. Crafting is done on the fly like it was in ‘Dead Rising 4,’ The Ice Sword is still one of my favorites, it freezes zombies and gives you time to bash them to tiny shards. Baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire, Blanka masks armed with a car battery and a whole lot more are available. The sillier the better.
Exo-Suits are another new item you can find scattered throughout. These suits make Frank into a tank. He is able to punch a zombie into goulash while wearing the suit. You can also use items in order to make your exo-suit even more deadly. For example, if you interact with military hardware you strap a mini-gun and rocket launcher to your back and unleash hell. If you can interact with a vacuum it turns that into deadly suction that is capable of pulling zombies towards you and then unleashing a blast of air that turns them to viscera. These exo-suits run out of juice pretty quick though. In the short time you are able to use them, it is best to unleash as much hell on packs of zombies as possible to rack up combo hit points. These suits are a lot of fun, even if they don’t last as long as you wish they could.
“Screw dreaming of a white christmas,
this one is the type of christmas
horror fans have been dreaming of.
Customizable costumes and clothes are back. These can turn Frank into anything from a bull to a pirate. Each clothing store you explore offers the possibility of widening your fashionista senses. When I was suddenly a Leprechaun wielding a chainsaw, I realized how much I loved this game.
While games like ‘Dark Souls’ go for the permadeath and punishing difficulty route, Dead Rising 4 goes for a very simple approach. The gameplay is overly simplified. In fact, I rarely died during the full campaign. There is no way to turn up the difficulty either. In any other game that might be a big issue, especially if you love a good challenge. In this case, the random outfits and insane combo weapon selections more than make up for it. Dead Rising isn’t trying to punish you, it is rewarding you with over the top weaponry and costumes. Making 500 zombies into mush using a acid spitting Santa Clause lawn decoration is way more satisfying that dying 49 times trying to cross a bridge. It gives us variety and we can all appreciate variety right?
‘Dead Rising 4’ is a game that is purely fun. The insane combo weapons and costumes are the bread and butter of this series and the fourth entry finds the perfect equation of both elements. The psychopaths and clock might be missing, but there are plenty of zombie-killing, joyful things you can focus on to not cry about it too much. The game begs the question “does killing thousands of zombies over and over again ever become repetitively boring?” and the answer is a resounding “hell no.” It is a freaking game about zombies set during a snowy christmas. Screw dreaming of a white christmas, this one is the type of Christmas horror fans have been dreaming of.