Just when I thought they couldn’t develop more zombie titles, out comes the festive Dead Rising 4. With the year almost over, we take a look at one of the Xbox One’s last games of 2016. Did they save the best for last?
We humor the return of Frank West – I use that statement quite literally. The game is riddled with crappy puns and good laughs, enough to make anyone have a good chuckle here and there. When you aren’t taken in by the mild memes, you are left with a progressively fantastic zombie-killing experience which doesn’t take itself too lightly. One of my favorite improvements from the original game was the removal of the time-based storyline. Those unaware are thankful not to have to live under a time limit while trying to enjoy the storyline. Sure, it provided a sense of urgency, but it makes the player miss out of every detail and experience that the product has to offer. It’s like if your parents invited you over for Thanksgiving dinner, only to tell you that you had 10 minutes to enter the door, dish yourself up and eat.
We see Frank West in a familiar situation: Trapped in a secluded area where he must defeat thousands of zombies with various objects such as a 2×4 plank of wood, a chainsaw, or the lawn mower you mowed neighbor’s lawns with when you were a child. The only difference between the zombie killing in Dead Rising 4 and doing tedious favors in exchange for cash, is that one of them rewards you with hard-earned money for video games like this one. You’re left with a bright emptiness after seeing your Zombie-killing bar surpassing 10,000 zombies, thinking you would net yourself something terrific for doing so, only to be given the middle finger for the game to say “Congratulations, there are still hundreds of thousands more killing, get to it!” Ugh.
A great addition to Dead Rising 4 is the Exo-Suit; a battery-powered suit designed to give Frank West super-human abilities. Using the suit, Frank can grab a humorously large object such as a street sign or a battle axe, to mow down zombies like it’s going out of style. These suits can be found by playing through the main storyline, or if you prefer, completing the tedious side quests. The suit is fun to hop into, giving the player the instant satisfaction of pulverizing any zombies in your path. Most of the items available from using the Exo-Suit provide the satisfying “thump” that comes from bashing their mutated skulls in. Think about a golf ball hitting the greens for the first time in the Summer, except a lot louder and bloodier.
It wouldn’t be too terrible if the developers gave you a clear goal on clearing out X zombies per area. Something to work towards. Eventually, the zombies tend to grow stale, as you purposely avoid them in some areas to avoid the biggest fear of them all: death by boredom. The items are fun to use in the beginning, and as you experiment in the game and find blueprints, you get some pretty fantastic weapons. However, it all falls flat when you use that same gun ten times over and see the same, dull-expressed blood spray of Zombies in various patterns. Okay, perhaps I’m being jaded, the game is fun, but there is only a total of 50 blueprints, and once you obtain them all, the weapons and Exo-Suits get stale. Perhaps it would be better if all the Zombies had some personality, rather than focusing solely on trying to win an award for “most enemies on screen” instead of focusing on real fun.
Of course, a next-generation experience wouldn’t be complete without the excellent use of its technology, with it being on the Xbox One. The amount of zombies that are seen on-screen at once is an impressive couple hundred, to the point where you can’t usually count some bodies ahead of your way. There aren’t any noticeable frame-rate stutters throughout my game time, and the game seemed to run at a very smooth 60 frames-per-second with no sign of it slowing down. The problem is, with an open-world like the title like Dead Rising, there are bound to be glitches here and there. Limbs, items and sometimes full characters are often seen clipped through walls, and may at times still attack you while stuck. Perhaps that is just the nature of a game as big as Dead Rising, but it does draw out the experience every time you encounter it. One particular instance had a bloke shooting me through the wall, whereas I couldn’t reach him; inevitably leading to my demise.
One problem did quickly reveal its ugly head for me. Where is the option to manually save the game? Why am I barred to particular checkpoints, especially when those checkpoints are spaced out far enough to erase up to an hour of progress? Not only does this infuriate me as a player, but if there is a situation, where I must break away from the console to do other tasks, within an hour’s period, I know there is a high possibility of losing the progress that I’ve made. In an open-world game like this one, a lack of manual saving is unforgivable.
Here’s the thing. Dead Rising 4 does a great job at some things, such as providing a mindless zombie-killing experience that is riddled with cheap laughs and subtle easter eggs. What Dead Rising doesn’t do is provide a well-written convincing story or anywhere near that, but that isn’t a bad thing. Dead Rising 4 is outrageous, an absolute treat to those looking to spend their time murdering many zombies. The problem is that the experience is mostly short-lived, seemingly drawn-out with mindless zombie killing. While I didn’t particularly enjoy all of my time with the game, I can say with confidence that many would, if your enjoyment is pushing the same button all day to see that Zombie counter move up.
Dead Rising 4 is available for the Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.
Thanks to Microsoft for providing us with a review copy of Dead Rising 4.