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Dead Rising 4 review: Slay ride

Hayden Dingman | Dec. 14, 2016
This fun zombie sandbox that may not appeal to Dead Rising diehards.

What I really enjoyed was the Dead Rising demo, which was basically just a slice of the mall sans-objectives. Before I ever owned Dead Rising proper, I spent hours just loading up that demo and mowing down zombies.

Dead RIsing 4

Dead Rising 4 indulges that impulse. It is power fantasy from start to finish, with 50-year-old Frank West somehow more agile than ever, snatching up swords and axes and sledgehammers and traffic cones and lawn gnomes and either using them to bash zombies into a second grave or (more likely) duct taping them together to make a flaming sword or a hammer that spews acid.

Oh, and it’s Christmas, so you can also scour the town of Willamette, CO (the setting of the original) for guns that shoot Christmas ornaments or a singing Santa Claus or whatever.

It doesn’t really matter what you use. You just chew through zombies. Thousands of undead shamble through Willamette’s streets and Frank dispatches them ten at a time, pausing only to chug orange juice when things get dire.

There’s a story to hustle you through Willamette’s new mall and the surrounding areas, but it’s not great. Basically, the usual “Big Government Conspiracy” zombie pap, peppered with groups of crazy bystanders and Frank occasionally cracking an off-color joke to liven things up. It’s also short. You could probably rush through it in less than ten hours if you tried.

Dead RIsing 4

The story isn’t really the point here though, nor is the difficulty. Dead Rising 4 is just an enormous sandbox, like that old Dead Rising demo fleshed out to fifteen hours—or maybe like Just Cause: Now With Zombies. Frank’s idiotic antics are infinitely more interesting than Dead Rising 3’s ultra-dour lead Nick Mechanicman, and it makes for mindless fun just running from store to store, picking up dumb items and seeing what you can do with them while Frank yells some silly one-liner.

There are some issues. First and foremost: the number of those weapons. It’s a shame that Capcom has pivoted Dead Rising into this sandbox-style game but most of the weapons and vehicles are rehashes and the number of weapons feels pretty thin overall. It even feels sparse compared to Dead Rising 3, and it feels like the plan is “Sell players lots of weapons later.” Gross.

Not to spoil too much, but the final boss battle is a tedious bore.

And there are scattered rumors of performance woes. I didn’t run into many myself—two crashes in sixteen hours, which isn’t great by any means but hardly unplayable. However it seems like people with lower-end processors are having a worse time of things, and the game could certainly use a patch or two. I encountered some disappearing-weapon bugs and also a repeating issue where Frank bends down to pick something up, gets stuck in the animation for five seconds completely helpless, and then doesn’t even bother picking up the item in question.

 

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