Also available on Windows
After the obnscene amount of zombie slaughtering fun that I had playing Dead Rising 3 back when I first got my Xbox One, I was STOKED when I saw the announcement for Dead Rising 4. I ended up inadvertantly breaking my rule of getting all non-Wii U multiplats on PS4 (nothing against Xbox One, I just think the PS4 runs smoother and has a better controller) because I didn't know that Dead Rising 4 was only a timed exclusive until Amazon had already shipped my pre-order, but whatever, that's fine. It looks good sitting next to Dead Rising 3 on my shelf anyway.
Dead Rising 4 takes place in Willamette, Colorado, the same setting as the first game, and like the first game, features photojournalist Frank West as its protagonist. You go back to Willamette right around Christmas to investigate a renewed zombie outbreak - something that shouldn't be possible considering that federal law required everyone to be vaccinated against the zombie pathogen. From there, the mystery starts to unfurl as you use your wits, luck, and flaming swords/explosive sledgehammers to uncover the truth and fight off the zombie horde. The story is actually fairly well written. It didn't ensnare me quite the same way that Dead Rising 3 did, but truthfully, I think the narrative is much better crafted and cultivated in Dead Rising 4. There are certainly many areas for improvement, but the plot definitely had enough meat to keep you interested.
Let's start with the good. Graphically, the game looks quite good. It's got a decent (albeit irritating after a while) soundtrack of classic Christmas tunes playing through the city, and the sound design for the weapons is great....mostly. There's a totally-not-a-lightsaber red laser sword you can find that makes sounds good enough to flirt with a Disney copyright. There are some flaws, however. With the sledgehammer-with-grenades-tapped-to-it pictured above, for example, sometimes you get a good, meaty BOOM while other times you may get a silent explosion. The overall sound design is good, but it definitely feels like there were some loose ends that could have stood another month or two of polishing before release (and this is after the ~12 GB update....).
Now, unfortunately, we must address the not-so-good. The game plays very much like Dead Rising 3, but unfortunately, it feels just...less. I don't know how better to describe it but "less." The vehicles are cool, but they're much less entertaining and outlandish. The weapons are awesome, but they're less diverse and less ridiculous. The costumes and outfits are great, but they feel a little less goofy. For a game that's built almost entirely around the premise of "kill zombies in ridiculous fashions," that's a huge deficit. If this is your first Dead Rising game (or at least if you haven't played Dead Rising 3), then you're in for a treat, and you'll probably nothing wrong with the weapon, vehicle, and outfit diversity. If you HAVE played Dead Rising 3, however, then you're still in for a great time, but be prepared to be a little bit let down.
My biggest problem with Dead Rising 4 is not the intermittent sound cut-outs (although that's annoying) or the relatively lackluster weapon and vehicle selection (although that's disappointing) but the infestation of bugs at the end of the game. With the exception of the aforementioned sound glitches and a few random bugs where I got stuck on some invisible barrier in the middle of the floor, I didn't really encounter any noteworthy bugs in most of my playthrough. That all changed in the last case. I hit some MAJOR bugs in this one. At one point, I'd randomly fail a chase mission after clear it in time, if I paused the game, it would CHUG at about 10 seconds per frame (yes, you read that right) until I unpaused it, and the game completely crashed on me as soon as I beat the final boss. Fortunately for me, it did save the checkpoint after killing the boss, but the game refused to launch for a good ten minutes after crashing. Even power cycling the Xbox didn't help; I was just stubborn and kept trying to launch, and it eventually worked. After all that, the cut scenes would absolutely churn, going at - like the pause menu - a good 10 or 15 seconds per frame. I eventually got through it all, but it definitely took me a good hour to get through what should have been fifteen minutes of cutscene and gameplay, and that's without factoring in the crash and refusal to launch.
I enjoyed Dead Rising 4. I really did. It was a bit disappointing after the near-masterpiece that was Dead Rising 3, but I truly did have a great time playing it. That's why it pains me so much that the performance is so horrendous at the end of the game. That one issue really leave a sour aftertaste for an otherwise great game. I definitely recommend Dead Rising 4, but I'd recommend waiting for some more patches or (what I wish I had known was an option) waiting for the Playstation 4 release in a year.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.