Dead Rising 4: Franks Big Package has dropped on PS4 after a year-long timed exclusivity for Xbox One so the question now is, does Frank’s Big Package satisfy or is it a disappointing fumble that will leave you frustrated?
Firstly, it has to be acknowledged that the title of this collection, aside from being quite hilarious and a strong indicator of the type of humour present in this game, is an accurate description of the sheer amount of content contained within. In this package you will find the Dead Rising 4 base game, the DLC Frank Rising which takes place after the main game and two pieces of seasonal DLC, the first is Christmas themed, the other is based around Valentine’s Day.
Frank is informed that there is another outbreak in Willamette and he needs to use his talents as a photojournalist and one-man, zombie-annihilating army to get to the bottom of what’s going on
The player will also receive the Capcom Heroes add-on, which adds several costumes from various Capcom games which will bestow Frank with some character specific moves. These include Ryu, Megaman, Danté and Viewtiful Joe. Rounding off the collection is Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini-Golf, a surprisingly enjoyable Dead Rising themed mini golf game.
Start with the basics: DR4 Base Game
Having not played a Dead Rising since Dead Rising 2 (purely because of the exclusivity deal with Xbox One) I was very excited to get reacquainted with Frank West and his very specific set of talents. Dead Rising 4 opens with Frank and his protégé Vick breaking into a military base to investigate reports of the return of zombies, things go awry, Vick and Frank’s strained relationship becomes more strained when she abandons Frank in the base.
Frank finds himself falsely accused of crimes and is forced to go into hiding, working as photography teacher operating under the pseudonym of Hank East. There he is tracked down by Brad a member of the ZDC, an organisation tasked with monitoring Zombie outbreaks, Frank is informed that there is another outbreak in Willamette and he needs to use his talents as a photojournalist and one-man, zombie-annihilating army to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
Dead Rising 4 encourages and rewards exploration
I’ve got all the time in the world
The biggest change in Dead Rising 4 from previous instalments is that the 3 day timer has been gotten rid of. Frank now has as much time as he likes to complete the missions. There are positives and negatives to the loss of the timed element. In the first two games the timer worked well, pushing the player along the narrative path. Though occasionally it felt restrictive when the player felt compelled to explore the open world, it was effective in adding a sense of urgency to proceedings. It’s clear with Dead Rising 4 the design philosophy is to ensure that the player is never too far from fun.
The world of Dead Rising 4 is quite large and varied when compared to the worlds of the first two (I can’t speak to the size of the world in Dead Rising 3). It’s clear the amount of care and attention that has been put into its creation. There is the mall at the centre, a standard for Dead Rising games, but during his adventure Frank will also spend time in the town surrounding the Willamette Mall. There are many houses and shops that can be explored, along with some farmland and and Industrial area in the North.
Lots to see, lots to do
Dead Rising 4 encourages and rewards exploration, dotted around the mall and the town are several different collectibles. These include blueprints for new combo weapons, uploads from Vick, Frank’s errant protégé, panic room keys that unlock hidden doors in houses and shops which contain some powerful weapons.
Frank can also level up the safehouses by rescuing survivors; this will allow Frank access to even more absurd costumes
Since the world is so large and spread out, in each sector there is a safehouse that Frank can access after clearing out the zombies inside. Once Frank has cleared out all the zombies in a safehouse he will then gain access vendors who will sell him, clothing, weapons, vehicles and maps that mark the location of collectibles in the sector. Frank can also level up the safehouses by rescuing survivors; this will increase each of the vendors inventory and allow Frank more access to absurd costumes.
MacGyver times 100
The combo weapons are back again and thankfully Frank does not have to lug around the items he wishes to combine until he finds a workbench, making Chuck Greene look positively inept in comparison. Instead, Frank will just crouch down and throw together whatever he needs to build a new, more powerful weapon. Thankfully this action cannot be interrupted so when you are duct taping grenades to a sledgehammer the zombies nibbling at Frank’s ankles are ignored. Dead Rising 4 also adds an exo-suit that Frank can don for a short amount of time, just like everything in this game the exo-suit can be customised.
The combo weapons are imaginative, amusing and add a lot of variety to gameplay which without them may have been a bit one note. The combo weapons are extremely powerful, allowing Frank to cut swathes through the zombies that fill the streets while also managing to be quite over the top and amusing. Dead Rising 4 also contains some combo vehicles, all of which will cause destruction on a massive scale.
The variety of enemy has also been improved in this installment, Frank will not be limited to battling the standard, slow-moving Romero zombies
Similar to the combo weapons, usually the player will find the vehicles that must be combined parked near each other, all part of a design that wants the fun to keep going as long as possible. Because of the scale of the world, these vehicles are invaluable for navigating between the different areas and their destructive abilities make that traversal a lot of fun.
Lots to kill, lots to maim
The variety of enemy has also been improved in this installment, Frank will not be limited to battling the standard, slow-moving Romero zombies. Along with the shamblers, there are the odd fast zombies. There are also human enemies to contend with; in the first two games the human psychopaths presented the greatest challenges, oftentimes a result of controls that could be generously described as janky.
The Frank West of Dead Rising 4 handles a lot better, which is good news. Whereas in previous games psychopath battles involved one or two characters, DR4 Frank may be assaulted by ten or more humans who have cracked under the strain of the zombie outbreak. As Frank cuts his way through the varied masses and levels up, he will gain experience points. The skill trees that the player can spend these points on are a big help; allowing Frank to heal faster, carry more weapons and craft combo weapons more efficiently.
The tone in Dead Rising 4 is something that is expertly handled. I was pleased to see Capcom Vancouver have done a great job in retaining that aspect of the Dead Rising franchise. DR4 is an extremely violent game – by the end of the main story the player will have killed tens of thousands of zombies. Yet, it never becomes gruesome because said violence is cartoonish with a tenuous relationship with reality.
Humour is highly subjective and with DR4, there will certainly be some who won’t appreciate 210.21this aspect of the game at all. For me however, the humour in Dead Rising 4 hits all the right notes. The comedy doesn’t just come from the fact that the player might be battling zombies dressed as a girl scout. I’d especially like to mention here Frank’s colour commentary in Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf, he and his co-host Zombie Bob had me quite amused, even when losing badly, which was often.
Frank’s dialogue and actions in the main game are often hilariously self-serving as opposed to more common playable characters who are willing to do whatever it takes to help people in need. One interaction that sticks out is when Frank is asked if he will go rescue another character, his reply was “I probably will but it won’t be on purpose.” There is something refreshing and enjoyable in controlling such an unhelpful, snarky and occasionally unpleasant character.
Non-stop, non-stutter action
Graphically, this game is an achievement. Even ten hours in, I still occasionally found the sheer numbers of zombies onscreen absolutely staggering. During my time with Dead Rising 4, I was frequently unleashing massive amounts of damage on tens of zombies simultaneously while hundreds more shambled towards me and I noticed zero slowdown whatsoever. Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package was reviewed for EliteGamer on an original PS4 and must be praised as an expertly optimised experience.
This is an open-world title so there will be the occasional bug; none of the bugs I encountered in game-play were game breaking by any stretch. Every now and then, Frank may freeze after being instructed to hop over a fence but that was about it. There was a patch released during the period of this review that corrupted my save file, but after completing each case the player can restart the chapter while retaining Frank’s level and inventory meaning I didn’t lose any significant progress.
What about the times of the year that aren’t as wonderful?
If I could strain for one criticism, it is how very Christmassy Dead Rising 4 is. Not a criticism I’ve ever made of a video game before. The mall has an enormous Santa’s workshop; there are decorations and Christmas trees in most of the houses. The soundtrack is almost exclusively Christmas themed; Let it Snow, the Nutcracker theme and some Christmas songs that sound to be written for this game. As is evident from the screenshots I spent all of my time with Frank dressed as Santa, I was fully committed to the Christmas theme here. However, eventually I started to wonder how I would feel about this Christmassy assault on the senses in July.
I have spent well over 20 hours with Frank in Willamette and I still feel like I haven’t scratched the surface of what Frank’s Big Package has to offer. As someone who hasn’t experienced a new Dead Rising game in almost 10 years, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time with it. Like the first two entries in the series, this is a game players will be coming back to again and again as I don’t know any other game which provides such consistently anarchic fun.