Over recent years there has been a cultural shift in the perception of video games – the medium no longer seen exclusively as the pursuit of reclusive teenagers in darkened rooms – but as an art form of its own, with improved storytelling and cinematic visuals at times giving games favourable comparisons with films.
A more intellectual side to video games has undoubtedly been a welcome addition, but just as in cinema, highbrow is not always everything – for every Citizen Kane you need a Con Air – and fortunately that is where Dead Rising 4 comes in.
It is ten years since the first Dead Rising was released – and appropriately enough in the current climate of wistful nostalgia that has spawned both destructive political movements and lazy Hollywood reboots alike – the game’s third sequel sees the return of both original protagonist Frank West as well as the town of Willamette, its population once more unfortunately mostly finding themselves zombified.
The decision to bring back Frank is a good one from Capcom, the cynical photo-journalist proving a more interesting and human central character than many offered in other games. However despite both being perhaps better than you would imagine, Dead Rising 4 is not really about the plot or character development – this game is ultimately really only about one thing, killing thousands of zombies.
If you are looking for a game with subtlety, then Dead Rising 4 is probably not for you. If you are looking for a game where you can shoot exploding garden gnomes or create and ride around in a cannon-firing wheelchair in order to butcher as many onrushing zombies as possible, then you are in the right place.
While unpopular with some fans of the franchise, the removal of the time-limit from previous Dead Rising incarnations allows for more exploration of the open-world and the discovery of all manner of weapons and the blueprints needed to create the variety of eccentric and largely extremely bloodthirsty combo weapons that are a large part of what makes the series popular.
Although the combat, despite the introduction of various new enemy styles, is to all extents fairly simplistic, what stops the game from become too repetitive is that amid all the zombie slaughter there is a good deal of humour injected into proceedings.
The zombie outbreak beginning after the new Willamette mall’s Black Friday sales and the Christmas setting of the game, timed perfectly for its release, lend it an amusingly topical note – added to by the cheesy music piped in whenever the game is paused. The ability as well to take a selfie with Frank’s camera at any point in the game, complete with amusing controllable facial expressions, is one that rarely gets tiring, particularly given the wealth of potentially horrific backgrounds for photos.
Undoubtedly Dead Rising 4 is far from a perfect game, the removal of the multiplayer co-op campaign is a real shame and ultimately the game has altered very little from it’s first outing a decade ago. However as a slice of amusing, fairly mindless and bloodthirsty entertainment, it remains extremely good fun with an odd charm that keeps you interested longer than you might imagine.