Dead Rising 4 Review

Dan Webb

They say lightning never strikes in the same place twice, so if you're hailing from the small mountain town of Willamette, Colorado, you have to be asking yourself, "what on Earth did we do wrong to deserve not one zombie outbreak, but two!?" Fear not though, because ten years after photojournalist Frank West saved the day, he’s back with his witty charm and bizarre fashion sense to once again become the town’s saving grace.

Sure, this may be Willamette in name, but it’s not the Willamette you may have become familiar with. While the original Dead Rising left you shackled to the confines of the town’s stereotypical American mall, Dead Rising 4 gives you the entire freedom of the town, mall and all, in what is surely the franchise’s most diverse zombie-slaying neighbourhood we’ve experienced thus far. With a vineyard, farms, a huge residential area, an industrial area, small shops and more, the outer-lying regions of Dead Rising 4’s playground complement the map’s iconic – and newly rebuilt – mall perfectly. Speaking of the new mall, the Willamette Memorial Megaplex is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor, the Willamette Plainview Mall, with themed areas, plenty of shops to loot, an indoor go-kart track and a luxury hotel thrown in there for good measure.

One head smashing homerun swing coming up!

Capcom Vancouver has always had a knack for populating its environments with wonderful toys and outfits for players to truly customise – as well as injecting a little humour into – their experiences, and Dead Rising 4 is no different. With Christmas themed combo weapons and a slew of wacky – and bizarre – outfits, Dead Rising 4 is yet another instalment in the franchise that truly delivers on this aspect. Unfortunately, though, it seems like that DNA is one of the last Dead Rising DNA strands left.

What do I mean by that? Well, quite simply put, a few of the things that made the Dead Rising franchise truly unique are no more. Gone is the toilet saving system – in fact, all save systems are gone as Dead Rising 4 now works entirely on an autosave system – and gone is the mission timer. When I first heard about that, a literal table was flipped in my mind, but honestly, after only a short amount of time with the game, I realised that it's actually a blessing in disguise. No longer did I feel rushed. For once, I could take my time, explore, piss around, which is what Dead Rising is all about. And let’s be honest, the timer was so slow to tick down in DR3 that it may as well not have been there anyway!

Just because those two DNA strands are no more, that’s doesn’t mean Dead Rising 4 isn’t a great game. It still is, but it does feel less like a Dead Rising game than it ever has before. We don’t have so much of an issue with those changes, where we do have an issue with change is with the game’s psychopaths, now known as ‘Maniacs.’ In Dead Risings gone by, the Psychopaths were huge epic events, tough fights, crazy and zany characters with intro cutscenes and what not, but in Dead Rising 4 they’re throwaway.

They may as well not exist. For one they’re easy; two, they’re introduced with very little or no fanfare whatsoever; and three, they are few and far between. Capcom Vancouver has taken an iconic part of the game and made it ordinary. Such a shame. While we’re talking about shameful things, it’s a shame Capcom decided to put so many survivors with guns in too. They’re bloody everywhere, shooting at everything, and it ruins the immersion somewhat to hear gunfire wherever you turn.

On a more positive note, though, Dead Rising 4 is a hell of a lot more accessible than any other game in the series. Now, when people hear the word “accessible” these days, they automatically go to a negative place. Don’t. The changes here are all positive. Instead of flapping about trying to equip a ranged weapon now, all ranged weapons are mapped to the triggers. Instead of fiddling around trying to combo weapons in your inventory or out in the world at a workbench, you can now do it on the fly. Dead Rising is no longer a clunky and awkward game to play, with each iteration Capcom has made it easier – and more importantly, made it more fun – for the player.

In terms of actual new content, there isn’t really a lot of it. There’s the new Emergency Shelter Mechanic, which is basically safehouses with vendors. Frank's camera also makes a return, as do investigations – Frank is a serious journalist, after all, honest – and while they do break up the play somewhat, the mission variety is a little stale. And Dead Rising 4 also introduces random events in the world, which are, well, a distraction more than anything… and not a positive one at that. Stealth is new too… in a zombie game… yeah, I don’t know either. And there are new zombie types as well, like vicious Evos, which feel more Resident Evil than Dead Rising.

Oh, and there’s the Exo Suits, which are timed, combo-friendly power armours, but because of the timer on them, they’re not even worth your effort. To be completely honest, Frank is OP anyway, what with all the devastating combo weapons and vehicles at his disposal – the combo vehicles, however, are not as strong as they were in DR3.

This is but one of the Exo Suit's kick-ass combos.

If multiplayer is your thing, you can try out the game’s 4-player co-operative mode. In it, you and up to three others can take to the Willamette Memorial Megaplex, across four episodes, in which you're tasked with surviving and other various manner of activities – like taking photos or defeating a boss. With its own levelling up and progression systems, there’s a lot of fun and replayability to be had here – even some achievements to grab – if only for a short while. Thankfully, your blueprints you find in the single-player carry across here too, so if you want a big headstart, get finding those blueprints in the single-player. There’s no dress-up or costumes here,however,  which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity.

Speaking of achievements, the achievements in Dead Rising 4 are lacklustre to say the least. With a game that boasts so much creativity, allowing players to express themselves as they see fit, it would be nice to see that seep through into the achievements. That, it does not. Instead what we have is a list that is by-the-numbers and a procession of do-this/do-that tasks. Shame, really.

Dead Rising 4 is a case of hits and misses for Capcom Vancouver and the Dead Rising franchise. With another incredible and hugely detailed open-world, improved handling, and an actually rather funny script – as well as a great performance from new Frank West voice actor, Victor Nosslo – Dead Rising 4 excels in some ways over its predecessor. But with the psychopaths being almost written out of existence, the open-world populated with far too many armed-to-the-teeth survivors and paramilitary, and some other questionable design decisions, it’s a case of one step forward, two steps back for the franchise. It's still a great game though; just not as good as Dead Rising 3.

Dead Rising 4

Dead Rising 4 is undoubtedly a great zombie game, with Capcom Vancouver nailing the open-world and tone once more, but the lack of true psychos in the world does detract from the overall experience. It’s no Dead Rising 3, but it’s still a bloody good game.

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The Christmas-themed soundtrack is just brilliant, as is the performance by Frank West newbie, Victor Nosslo. Plus, there’s a store that just plays Street Fighter music. Swoon! It’s a shame it’s almost spoiled by the sounds of constant gunfire!


No frame-rate issues, which is impressive considering the number of on-screen zombies you can encounter. It’s a very pretty looking game, marred only by a few graphical hiccups, which means items disappear among other things. Lip syncing is a little 'meh' too.


It controls better than any other game in the franchise thus far, but let down slightly by some odd animations and some weird bugs where you get stuck in certain animations – like opening a crate, or at least attempting to.


While the open-world is wonderfully diverse, with loads of great weapons – both normal and combo – and costumes, the new dwindling impact of the psychos, AKA Maniacs, are a huge step backwards for the franchise.


Lots of by-the-numbers achievements here, which is a shame for a game that has so much potential for hilarity.

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