Dead Rising 4 had a lot to live up to, since finally playing through DR3 earlier this year, I was really excited to play the 4th in the series. With the man who started it all, Frank West and the amazing Christmas time setting, I couldn’t have been more psyched to head back to the Willamette mall and the surrounding area for another Zombie bashing good time.
What should have been a relatively easy followup and an enjoyable game became a game that tried so hard that it kept pushing me away. The game feels like a huge departure from everything that was fun about the 3rd game. Frank West isn’t fun, he isn’t cool, he isn’t even an Anti-hero, he is the living embodiment of Steve Buscemi in 30 Rock (The “How do you do fellow kids”) His writing feels so overly hamfisted and tries so hard to be hip. And it’s not because he’s older and now a professor at college, because the case level recaps at the end of the missions says the same things as well. I don’t need to hear a “52” year old man saying that he is B.F.F.s with this army general or this podcaster… It’s so bad, and not in a “it’s so bad, it’s funny” or “ironic” way, it’s just bad. It feels like the writers of this game took notes from their 12 year old daughters.
Next was just the overall blandness of DR4. The mall has been rebuilt and instantly destroyed even before we get there. So instead of seeing the mall we know and love from the first game, we don’t even get that, Just a “rebuilt” and destroyed one. In all honesty I wouldn’t even know it was the same one if the cutscenes didn’t tell me over and over again. It looks nothing like it and is just boring and so dimly lit that you can’t wait to get out into the city only if to be able to see clearly. Which brings me to the major fundamental issue with this game…. It’s just plain boring. The characters are boring, the city is boring, the Psychos are boring, the upgrades are boring, the weapons are boring. Nothing about this game offers anything fun to do, Even the vehicles are lame compared to the last game. With DR3, it gave us the Rollerhog, a mashup of a motorcycle and a steamroller. The closest thing you get to that is a lawnmower and a tricycle…. Yeah, I’m not kidding, and it’s slow and controls horribly. If they didn’t straight up tell you it was at christmas time, you’d rarely know it,... Unless you have the Christmas DLC pack installed and turned on. Which makes all zombies in the game have the same christmas elf costume. I didn’t know this for about 7 or 8 hours into the game and thought the budget was cut in half from this game. It seemed very lazy. I wasn’t far off though, this seemed like a budget game for sure. Not like the Microsoft produced Dead Rising 3 that was a Xbox One launch exclusive for Next Gen hardware.This seems like a budget in every sense of the word, like this game was outsourced.
The weapon blueprints were much harder to come by, Either you purchase one or two of them from a survivor is a safe house every 4 hours or so, or you find them in the city. Most of which are locked behind a cabinet which you have to find the key for. Most are sprawled around the city in a completely random part and you have no clue where the original location for the key is kept. It’s insane that they made it this hard to get weapons.
Once you get the blueprint, it becomes a mini-game of scanning the 100 meters or so of crap on the ground to find the right combination of stuff to make the new weapon. The objects aren’t right in the same area like they were in 3. Now you have a new weapon. Yet, the controls and animation suck so bad, that most weapons aren’t really even worth using, as it takes forever for Frank to wind up a swing of most weapons. The guns are easily the best at clearing out most hordes of zombies, with the ice sword as the best handheld combo weapon. Honestly, if I knew this, I would have just crafted the Ice Sword and not bothered with any other weapon at all. None of them were worth the hassle of trying to find the combos to make the other weapons.
The ExoSuit is the new addition to this game, where you get power armor that will mostly last about a minute or two depending if you run or not. It’s very powerful, but only if you get an extra powerup, which are mostly located far enough away that once you get it, you get to use the power up for all of about 15 seconds. There are special wireless power emitters that add to the time for the suits before they break, but I only encountered two of them in my 13 hour playthrough.
The plot is actually really weird as well, Frank and his student Vik uncover a new zombie testing facility in the prologue and then the game begins with him being recruited by the government and Vik has turned on him. Then it goes into multiple weird directions where Frank is pulled in four different directions from people who don’t belong in the story at all. The majority of the story revolves around a revolutionary group that has split into two and you have to help both sides and resolve this, which you shouldn’t be involved with in the first place. The last 2 hours wrap up the main plot of the, you guessed it, government conspiracy and cover up of a zombie program to produce cheap labor that went horribly wrong. I was so bored by the multiple plot lines that I ended up not caring about any person or group at all by the end of it and wished long drawn out deaths for every character in the game.
Between the terrible writing, the blandness of the game, the boring characters and setting and the nonsense storyline that doesn’t make sense at the end at all…. I couldn’t be more upset at how this game turned out. It seems like it was written by two different teams and hastily thrown together to get it out at Christmas time. This should have evolved from the last game and expanded on the game that preceded it, but instead takes multiple steps backwards in the wrong direction. If given the choice between this and Dead Rising 3, I’d pick 3 a million times over. The Christmas setting isn’t enough to keep this game going as it’s a side note more than a bullet point.