Dead Rising 4 Review – Gore Aplenty

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Dead Rising 4
Capcom/Microsoft Studios

Back when the original Dead Rising debuted way back in 2006, we were in the midst of the whole zombie craze. Personally, I never felt that zombie were particularly scary—just as I don’t think that wolfmen, vampires, goblins, or faeries are either. When it comes to evil spirits and demonic possession, that’s a whole ‘nother ball game, but that’s another story so I won’t digress.

Anyways, back then, zombies were pedestalized and fawned over just like any pop-culture iconography that the tumultuous multitudes glom onto. There were zombies here, there were zombie there, there were zombies everywhere—quite literally. I mean, every time that I turned around, some film production or TV studio had a new zombie franchise that they were trying to pedal to the masses. There were also zombie comic books, novels, and other related minutia. There were even zombie-themed amusement park attractions for crying out loud.

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And just like the undead masses that these consumers fawned over, anything remotely associated with zombiedom was shambled towards with a seemingly insatiable hunger. For years, the zombie craze kept folks transfixed with various forms of media—and of course the gaming industry fell victim to the oversaturation of the genre. It seems that for ages we’ve been privy to more zombie games that we could ever hope to play. Anyone whom has ever seen the original Dawn of the Dead, and gleaned its scathing tongue in cheek metaphors about consumerism, has had a schadenfreude or two at all of the irony afoot.

Dead Rising was a strange experiment in the digital realm. It featured rather wonky hack-and-slash gameplay mixed with healthy dollops of Tolentino-esque “edgy” humor, which is shorthand for “trying too hard to be funny.” Its setting was the Willamette mall in Colorado, where (surprise!) a zombie outbreak had gone down. The game’s main protagonist, Frank West, gleefully mowed down legions of shamblers with all manner of different weapons—which was the game’s main attraction.

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Since then, we’ve had a couple of Dead Rising sequels that diverted from Mr. West’s story. Apparently, these didn’t quite capture the hearts and minds (read: pocketbooks) of gamers, so gaming industry blue-chippers Capcom and Microsoft have gone back to the well and hauled up a big ‘ol bucket of Frank West once again. The forth full game, simply titled Dead Rising 4, also returns to the original game’s setting: The Willamette mall.

According to the franchise’s storyline, as Dead Rising 3 wrapped up, the zombie pandemic had been eradicated once and for all…or so we thought. Somehow, another zombie breakout has happened—coincidentally right in the same spot! Yes, I know, zombie movies, books, and games aren’t known for their deep narratives.

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In Dead Rising 4, Frank finds himself a humiliated photojournalist who teaches night classes in journalism, and otherwise hates his lot in life. Suddenly, a figure from his past comes knocking and offers him a last shot at redeeming himself. From there, much like the utterly unhinged character in thief/faux journalist played by Jake Gyllenhaal in 2014’s Nightcrawler, Frank pretty much does whatever he has to in order to be the first to break the “next big scoop.”

Indeed, much of the initial gameplay revolves around going to specific locations and snapping pictures of clues that may lead to learning how this second zombie epidemic arose. From there, it’s pretty much a reprisal of the original Dead Rising, as Frank commences to mow down entire phalanxes of zombies.

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This time around, however, the difference amongst the zombie masses are a little more evident. You have your standard, slow-moving, shambling zombies; then you have your recently “turned” undead types that run around in a crazed dither, much like the one’s featured in the 28-xxx film series. At the top of the zombie hierarchy (if there is such a thing), you have smarter zombies who have retained some form of devious intelligence, and will attack you in different, more cunning ways.

Frank also has some new toys to play with in Dead Rising 4. These include such things as razor wire imbued baseball bats, a wide array of guns and bladed weapons, rocket launchers, and more esoteric weapons derived by combining two seperate items. These latter weapons can be pretty amusing hybrids, such as a military helmet that inundates enemies with hails of bullets. Frank can even don a make-shift exo-suit which can decimate zombies in droves.

Dead Rising 4’s graphics have obviously improved since returning to the Willamette wall. All of the zombie models are very well done, and there is a good amount of differentiation between them. Weapons are also well rendered, and their effects are amazing (if darkly amusing) to behold. The environments are likewise highly detailed, and are available to be more freely explored since, for the first time in the series, Dead Rising 4 has removed mission time limits.

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Dead Rising 4 isn’t going to receive any prizes for originality, but it wasn’t setting out to. What it does, however, it does relatively well—namely, offering some down-and-dirty off-color humor and large heapings of zombie splattering fun. Its single player mode is short (less than ten hours long), but its longevity is extended by its fun four-player co-op mayhem. In all, Dead Rising 4 is a solid zombie slaying romp that will appeal to diehard fans of the fading zombie genre.

SCORE: 71%

Dead Rising 4 offers highly detailed visuals that suit its zombie killing theme. However, you have to have an equally fast gaming PC in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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