Dead Rising 4 Review

December 9, 2016

The Dead Rising games have been synonymous with hordes of zombies and shopping malls for over a decade now, and to put that in to perspective, that’s four years longer than The Walking Dead has been on our screens. In that time, we’ve seen some amazing advancements in graphics and the incredible number of zombies on-screen at any one time, and the new iteration from Capcom Vancouver continues this legacy. Enter Dead Rising 4, a game where no weapon is too unusual, no vehicle too unmodifiable, and no costume too unembarrasing (is that a word? It’s a word now).

After a main character hiatus, Frank West is back in his latest venture, this time teaming up with Vicky Chu (Vick for short), one of the Professor’s pupils from his teaching days. Together they set off to uncover a secret hidden inside a military base on the outskirts of Willamette. It all sounds incredibly similar to the original Dead Rising game and it should. After a bit of story, you’re thrown in to the Willamette Memorial Mall which is crammed full of zombies. Frank West is essentially in heaven at this point, with his character showing some of those “I’m a big shot” personality traits that we loved from the original game. It’s now up to Professor West and Vick to find the source of the latest zombie outbreak, and put a stop to whatever’s causing it.

It’s been three years since Dead Rising 3 launched along with the Xbox One console at the end of 2013, and if you loved Dead Rising 3 then Dead Rising 4 will allow you to continue the experience. Speaking of experiences, Dead Rising 4 is an Xbox Play Anywhere title, meaning if you buy the Play Anywhere bundle, you can pick up where you left off on Windows PC, and vice versa. The gameplay and controls are almost a carbon copy, with very little in the way of new features. There are still a ton of collectibles throughout the world, including cell phones and Vick’s blogs which add extra story, training manuals which unlock rare upgrades, and those must-have big shiny blue weapon blue-prints that allow you to create some of the most devastating zombie-killing machines you could imagine.

Dead Rising 4 Screenshot Power

There are 55 blueprints to find in the Dead Rising 4 world, allowing you to create a variety of melee, ranged and thrown weapons, as well as modified vehicles. Generally when you find a blueprint in-game, you’ll find the items needed to make that combination are nearby. However, after that initial weapon combination breaks, it’s up to you to source the items if you want to make it again. There is an upgrade to make your weapons more durable, but no weapon lasts forever. While some weapons are definitely more devastating than others, you’ll find most are very useful at taking out large swarms of zombies instead of using a shovel or a wrench.

Oh yeah, now is probably a good time to mention that Dead Rising 4 is set in the time between the American Black Friday sales and Christmas, so everything in the small town of Willamette is super jolly and decorated with sleigh bells jingling and ring ting tingling too! You’ll find all kinds of Christmas themed items throughout the game, but they are more in vain than some of the more practical weapon combinations. Costumes and outfits are aplenty in Dead Rising 4, and you’ve probably already seen a few if you’ve witnessed any advertising for the game. Yes, there’s a full T-Rex outfit, as well as all the usuals you would expect i.e. fireman, scarecrow, medieval knight and of course a Christmas elf.

Frank’s SLR camera plays a fairly large role in Dead Rising 4. Throughout the cases, you reach parts where you need to investigate an area and this can only be done by taking photos of specific things. You’re usually given a basic hint towards what you need to photograph, and the camera also has night-vision and a Spectrum Analyzer (pretty fancy camera apparently), meaning you might have to switch to a different mode to take the shot. Luckily the game assists you in letting you know when you need to change your camera’s mode. You can also take photos in-game whenever you want, and your photos are scored for how scary/violent they are. If you sneak up behind a zombie you can even use your camera to take a selfie with it.

Dead Rising 4 Screenshot Selfie

Everything you do in Dead Rising 4 from mowing down zombies in a car to taking selfies with zombies will give you Prestige Points, which accumulate towards the in-game levelling system. Every time you level up, you’re given a point which can be used to unlock an upgrade in the skills menu. These can range from extra weapon slots to combat upgrades to health regenerating faster, and you can pretty much pick and choose what you want to upgrade as you go, unlike some games that have steep talent trees where the developers practically control what unlocks at what level. Much like in previous Dead Rising games you’ll find that you level up quickly, however certain upgrades are locked until you reach certain levels, so you might end up finishing the main story before unlocking the best upgrades.

Throughout the game you come across a few different types of enemies. There’s more than just your generic brain-dead zombie in Dead Rising 4. You’ll also find the freshly infected, a type with glowing red eyes which move quickly around you and have more health, and the evo which are an ‘evolved’ zombie which climbs walls and dodge/counter your attacks. There’s also the ‘psychos’, humans which have gone insane after the zombie plague destroyed their world, which are often found hunting the zombie hordes in groups but will also attack you on sight, and then there’s the military which aren’t terribly fond of Frank West. All enemies can be approached using stealth and taken down from behind, but usually that’s not an option.

Dead Rising 4 Screenshot Fresh Spawn

Finally, a new gameplay feature in Dead Rising 4 is the exo suit. It’s almost like Capcom Vancouver were playing Fallout 4 last year and said, “You know what? Let’s put that in Dead Rising 4.” The exo suit has a lot of similarities to the Power Armour from the Fallout games. You find it in crates scattered around Willamette, it’s essentially an armoured suit that makes you stronger, it only lasts for a few minutes, and you can carry larger weapons that Frank West normally can’t use. Unlike Fallout though, the exo suit can be recharged by finding specific electronic equipment such as video game arcade machines. We found the exo suit was a fun addition to Dead Rising 4, but not really an essential part of the game. You move slower, are less agile, and can’t use any of the weapons you already have on you. Sure, you can rip down street poles and pick up giant swords, but the whole thing felt like a redundant gimmick. Perhaps if the exo suit upgrades included things like dashing or jetpacking we could see potential in players wanting to use it. In the end, a lot of the exo suit crates were left untouched as you can’t even use a vehicle while you’re in one.

Dead Rising 4 Screenshot Power Armour

The graphics in Dead Rising 4 still have a chalky feel to it, with realism not being the focal art direction for Capcom Vancouver. This takes away from the horror feel and makes the whole experience feel more like a cartoon. While the world is highly detailed, with each of the hundreds of buildings and stores being fully open to explore and having a unique feel, Dead Rising 4 could have been a chance to make a truly massive open world Dead Rising game. We want to see Dead Rising go truly massive, with huge natural environments accommodating more than just one town. The vehicles are already there, but the longest drive you currently make in a vehicle is about a minute or two. If the series continues, we hope Dead Rising 5 brings a larger world to the table.

Dead Rising 4 is a fun, easy to pick up game which can bring you some Christmas joy and laughs, but stops short of offering anything amazing to the series. Fans have been critical of Capcom Vancouver having been unable to improve on anything that made the original Dead Rising great, and we tend to agree. There’s no longer a continuous threatening time limit to finish the cases, rescuing survivors is more of a chore than a challenge, and the many pointless items that Frank can pick up makes it feel like a rather breezy button-masher, rather than a scary zombie survival game. Dead Rising 4 was the least challenging of the series so far, but if you’re wanting a game where you kill thousands upon thousands of zombies with a variety of silly dangerous articles, this game is for you.

Dead Rising 4 Screenshot Hordes


- The Frank West Encore Experience is entertaining
- More of the same Dead Rising zombie mashing gameplay


- Nothing new
- The whole game is a gimmick
- For a 2016 game the map was kind of small

Overall Score: