At the end of every month, I sit down and try to figure out what I’m likely to play over the next month, install a bunch of stuff, and write up my Nerd Girl Goals entry. Then, almost as soon as I hit post, I load up something completely random and play the hell out of it for a couple of days.
I decided that I needed something sort of brainless to keep me from refreshing election results every fifteen minutes, and fired up Dead Rising 4 with seriously low expectations. I then proceeded to play through the entire story in two days (granted, on the easiest difficulty). I dabbled briefly in the Frank Rising DLC, and then went back and started replaying for collectibles, which I almost never do.
I played for about 15 hours across three days, and let me tell you, I’m pretty sure my low expectations are precisely why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Many of the defining characteristics for the series were completely discarded for the fourth game – gone are time limits, escorting survivors, and finding workbenches in order to create combo weapons. Psychopath boss battles have been toned down into completely optional maniac fights. Frank West is back, but he too feels like a shadow of the guy we met back in Dead Rising, although I think I enjoyed the camera mechanics a little bit more in this one. The side characters and overarching story is probably weakest here as well.
Although it sounds like there’s no actual reason to play, here’s what kept me glued to the keyboard. Play the game is fun. The weapons are still great, playing dress-up is still great, and watching zombies explode in a variety of ways is still pretty great. The humor is … okay, it’s weaker too, but it’s still an enjoyable experience.
I really believe that if the exact same game was released without the Dead Rising title attached, it would have been a solid 7/10. Nothing mind-blowing, not a “must play”, but a solid game that doesn’t overstay its welcome. As a sequel, I can understand why fans hated it – having played the previous titles, without a doubt it feels watered down.
What I was a little grumpy about was the story DLC: story-wise, should have been the final chapter of the main game, but gameplay-wise, was just freaking awful. The concept sounds far better than it plays – you play as a zombie, a pretty damn strong one, but after 10 hours of flashy weapons, scratching and punching people felt kind of … weak. And, as an added bonus, the timer mechanic comes back, and it felt – at least to me – tight. I wasn’t enjoying it, so I stopped playing and watched the ending on YouTube.