Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package Review-Oh What Fun!
Dead Rising turned heads when the franchise initially released almost a dozen years ago. Zombies hadn’t completely overrun the pop-culture landscape, and the concept of fighting the hordes in a shopping mall captivated players (even if time limits and poor AI complicated the matter). Fast forward through roughly four games, and Dead Rising 4 has finally evolved into what it was always meant to be: a sandbox zombie slaying game utilizing crazy weapons and an even crazier amount of enemies.
Dead Rising 4 takes place years after the original, with a now disgraced Frank West teaching photojournalism at a college. One night a student named Vick takes him to investigate a training facility in Willamette crawling with military and zombies. Trouble arises and the two escape, with Frank being wanted by the government. Four months later Frank is approached by a man named Brad who explains that Willamette has been overrun by zombies, and that Frank has to go and investigate why.
I actually enjoyed the story of Dead Rising 4. It progresses in a natural manner from the first games, and adds character to Frank, outside of the “badass photojournalist” that existed in the first game. Aside from the main storyline, you can find lore through various newpapers, journals, and audio logs scattered throughout the world.
Gameplay in 4 has been drastically updated. HUD is now comprised of a health bar, XP bar, stamina bar, and three slots reserved for one of each type of weapon (thrown, ranged, and melee) that can be cycled between via either the press of the D-pad, or by holding the button down to open a weapon wheel. Combo weapons can still be crafted on the fly, as long as the parts are near or held in your inventory, and Exo suits that allow to wield large weapons and can be powered up via items in the environment. Performing a certain number of consecutive hits now allow Frank to use skill moves, cinematic kills that reward more experience. All melee weapons have skill moves, with some killing groups of zombies at once. As you earn XP, Frank levels up, earning skill points to upgrade things like damage, stamina, health, and various survival aspects.
Frank’s camera has also been upgraded, allowing for multiple lenses that assist with finding hidden items in the environment, such as hidden/locked doors, hidden experience, and clues. Clues are special items Frank will run across throughout the campaign that will help solve the mystery of Willamette. While they’re rather easy to find, they’re a nice way to break up the pace of combat and tell the story.
The world is gigantic, expanding outwards from the mall into the streets of Willamette. The snowy town is littered with zombies and maniacs to kill, as well as survivors to save and safe houses to clear. Clearing safe houses allows you to use them to purchase weapons, clothes, and vehicles. Saving more survivors upgrades these safe houses, allowing them to sell you better merchandise.
Frank’s Big Package comes with all the DLC content, and a new Capcom Heroes mode. Capcom Heroes allows you to don various costumes inspired by classic Capcom franchises (such as Darkstalkers, Street Fighter, Mega Man X, and Devil May Cry) for a limited time throughout the campaign. Each costume carries with it special movesets, Such as a sticky grenade for X’s costume, or a Hadoken for Ryu. Costumes can either be purchased from vendors using in game currency, unlocked via collecting Capcom stars, or completing cases. Unlocking costumes in Capcom Heroes, also carries them over to the main campaign, without the time limit or movesets. Unfortunately, Capcom Heroes mode is just the standard campaign, meaning you’ll have to play through the same story moments twice if you want to do everything.
In addition to Capcom Heroes, there is also Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf and an online multiplayer mode. Mini Golf is a set of courses that have four characters from the campaign donning exo-suits and competing in a zombified version of mini golf, competing on courses of multiple pars. While controlling the force can be difficult, it still serves as a fun distraction from the main campaign.
The main online mode is a four player cooperative playthrough of four “episodes” which have you playing as one of four survivors as you play through missions, to advance days. Survivors earn XP and level up skills individually. Missions range from fighting a boss, to clearing out sections of the map from hordes. Completing missions earns items to help survive the next day. I wasn’t able to find partners during my time with the online mode, but I never ran into any connection issues either.
Whether you’re a Dead Rising fan or a newcomer to the series, There’s content in Frank’s Big Package to be enjoyed by all. The large map, plethora of weapons, and evolved gameplay make it one of the best entries in the franchise to date. The added DLC and Capcom Heroes update are the stocking stuffers to the already large bounty underneath the Christmas tree found in the main game. If you’re looking for an awesomely creative zombie killing sandbox game, then wish for a red Christmas and pick this one up.