I love the Dead Rising series. I didn't play the third game but that's more due to bad timing more than anything else. However, a opening appeared in my schedule which I've decided to devote to finishing off Dead Rising 4 after starting it before Christmas and then move on to doing reviews for the Starcraft series that I'm only now catching up on (after it being almost 20 years since I last played it).
So, what is Dead Rising about and is this installment any good? It is a satirical series set in a world where periodic zombie outbreaks occur that destroy whole cities. The games have a strong conspiracy element to them with the government and corporations aiming to profit on zombie-ism. In a very real way, it's kind of a more George Romero-esque version of the Resident Evil franchise. Despite this "realism", at least in the context of the corporations and governments actually wanting to make money from the zombies rather than for EVIL, it's still a hilarious series. You can dress in bizarre costumes and put funny masks on the zombies. The characters are often over-the-top with the Psychopaths (Bosses) routinely being bizarre caricatures of American culture.
|Willamette is a wonderful Christmas horror show.|
This plotline already is a bit over-complicated because Frank being labeled a terrorist has no effect on the plot. Also, Frank and Vic's characterization cross the line from being sarcastic to unlikable then keep going. Frank makes frequent jokes about the horrifying circumstances survivors are enduring while Vic does horrible things while claiming the moral high ground.
|The camera portion of the game is one of the most fun.|
I think this was a good thing as I never liked the timer and felt it prevented me from enjoying the game as much as I could. However, for a lot of gamers, the timer WAS what made the series unique. In Dead Rising: Off the Record, they had the option of turning off the timer so you could level up and explore the setting. If they'd gone with that then I think the response to the game would have been much better.
|There's a lot of mecha suits scattered around. Why? Because Dead Rising, that's why.|
I'm ambivalent on the changes to how you rescue survivors as well. In the first few games, all of the survivors you rescue are unique and have to be escorted back to safe rooms. Here, the survivors are procedurally-generated characters who can take care of themselves if you rescue them from a swarm. While I was often frustrated by the escort missions, I think they were a big part of the Dead Rising experience. I would have preferred making them able to defend themselves or make them all unique encounters than get rid of the escort element entirely.
|The Food Court of DOOM!|
Finally, if I have to complain about the game, I will say that it lacks the "Overtime" mode of previous efforts. Kind of. You see, Overtime mode is still present. Dead Rising 4 has the main game end on a downer note and you have to do a specific series of actions to get the "real" ending. Unfortunately, the specific series of actions in this respect is to shell out $9 at the online store to download "Frank Rising." This is ridiculous as there's no way that wasn't vital video game content cut off to rip off the consumer.
Villains-wise, I like the character of Fontaine and wish she'd had a bigger role in the game. I also felt Vick would have been an excellent final boss for Frank but I believe the game treated her as less like a Psycho and more woefully misguided--which I feel was a mistake. The character of Calder is a clear homage to George Romero's "Bub" from Day of the Dead and makes a strong impression despite his small role. I also had a lot of fun with the photography elements of the game and got quite a few "S"-ranked pictures I enjoyed. There's nothing like filming the hundreds of zombies you've slain all in a pile.
With all these complaints, it may sound like I didn't enjoy the game. Quite the opposite, it's a relaxing festival of zombie slaughter with a lot to recommend it. I slew something like twelve thousand zombies during the main campaign and it never got old. It was just the antidote to all the stress going on in my regular life.