The original Dead Rising was one of the first games on the Xbox 360 I remember getting really hyped about. The young console needed something that truly took advantage of its power, and the zombie-survival title seemed like the perfect test subject. From a technical standpoint, I was correct on that hunch. Problem was, due to the strict time limit imposed by the game, I didn’t really enjoy playing it. I know that that challenge has drawn its fair share of praise, but it just wasn’t for me. As such, I avoided the later entries in the series, even knowing mechanics were being reconfigured. 11 years later, though, much like Frank West, I have returned to the series with Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package.
After taking an extended hiatus from the series, original protagonist Frank West is once again stuck in the hell on Earth known as Willamette, Colorado. Dragged out of retirement by his ambitious student, Vicky “Vick” Chu, Frank stumbles upon a secret military base that has resumed researching zombies. When his initial return to Willmatte goes awry, he must work with the ZDC in order to not only clear his name, but also put an end to the latest zombie outbreak.
As a whole, the story of Dead Rising 4 is mostly uneventful, with a conclusion that wraps up a little too quickly for me. The actual plot developments are second nature to fleshing out Frank West, which works out surprisingly well. For a guy who has been in this situation more than once now, he remains remarkably flippant about the whole thing. He’s generally rude to fellow survivors, and is prone to awful joke timing. However, his dickish personality lends a much-needed dose of levity to what is otherwise a very grim situation. I was also a fan of how his relationship with Vick is developed over the course of the game. It fluctuates between friendly and antagonistic in a way that seems normal for a series as over-the-top as this one is. The overall tone of the game may be campy, but there is more heart and charm than you may expect.
No one comes to Dead Rising for the plot, though. They come for the insane amount of zombie-killing mayhem the series is known for, and Frank’s Big Package provides that in spades. With so many open-world zombie games out there these days, it’s nice to return this series’ comically over-the-top take on the genre. The game is split into different case missions, but each one affords Frank the opportunity to slaughter undead hordes with whatever he can find. From cement trucks to MMA gloves to toy guns, pretty much any item found in Willamette can be utilized in some way. On top of all that, the customization system which lets you fuse certain objects together to form ridiculous weaponry. I was a big fan of the Holey Terror, but it’s hard to ignore the insanity of the Gandelf.
One of the biggest criticisms against Dead Rising 4 when it first came out was the fact that it removed the timer system that the series had been known for. While it can be argued that the elimination of the timer ruins any tension in the game, I honestly prefer it being taken out. With no timer holding me back, I was able to fully enjoy the chaotic open-world Capcom Vancouver created. With as frustrating as 2017 has been, sometimes you just want to slip-on an EXO Suit and go wild. Maybe the lack of a timer makes the game a bad Dead Rising game, but I’m of the mind that the game is better for it.
As the subtitle suggests, Frank’s Big Package has a ton of extras included alongside the base game. You get all of the previously released DLC for the game, which includes new costumes, weapons, the Frank Rising episode and the Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf game. On top of all that content, the set also comes with the brand new Capcom Heroes Mode. For PlayStation 4 owners, who had to wait over a year for the sequel to hit their console, the wait was worth it.
Starting from bottom to top here, Frank Rising is a poor conclusion to a story, that as already mentioned, wasn’t that strong to begin with. Picking up following the events of the main game, the DLC chapter has an infected Frank trying to make it out of Willamette before he’s taken out by the military. It’s a neat idea, but I don’t find it nearly as enjoyable to play as the base game. You don’t have access to any of the unique weapons, or the EXO suit. Rather, you get a few new powers that don’t hold a candle to any of the crazy weapons regular Frank can use. I can see how Xbox One owners may have felt ripped off over this when it was first released, but since it is packed in here, it’s only marginally bad.
Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf takes the zombie-killing mayhem to the links for an enjoyable time-sink. Using the classic three-button press golf method, players shoot it out on Willamette-themed golf courses that are filled with shambling undead. Despite the irregular courses and hazards, the golfing itself feels fairly standard. You have a putter, wedge and driver to use, and you can upgrade each of these clubs, as well as your ball, by collecting Zenny, which you can get either on the course or by killing zombies. Obviously, this mode is kind of a bust when playing by yourself, but it is highly enjoyable multiplayer fare. Sinking your opponents game with a Ball Buster, which handicaps a randomly-chosen players game, is a great way to build friendships.
Finally, Capcom Heroes Mode is a solid twist on Dead Rising 4‘s campaign. While still following the same beats of the original campaign, the mode allows Frank to dress up as several Capcom legends. From icons such as Dante and Mega Man X to lesser-known faces like Sissel and Viewtiful Joe, there’s a costume for all fans. Dressing up as a certain character also allows Frank to utilize their powerful abilities for his own. I think this mode is a ton of fun, but if you took issue from the lack of difficulty the game had, this isn’t going to rectify things. From the few missions I played, it felt significantly easier going through the campaign here, as you are just so much more powerful than regular Frank. If you don’t care about being challenged, or have an affinity for Capcom’s stable of games, the mode is well worth checking out though.
While not super bug-filled, Frank’s Big Package does feature a handful of nagging issues. It can be frustrating trying to pick up items if a few of them are in close proximity, and sometimes Frank just won’t look through a bag, despite you telling him to do so. The game also occasionally locked up when I went into the menu for Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf. Additionally, there’s some typical graphical quirks that tend to arise in games of this size. Zombies clipping into the environment and objects popping up when you are driving through Willamette just two of the examples. Again, nothing too bad, but definitely issues that could have been cleaned up prior to release.
How you feel about Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package depends on how you feel about the Dead Rising franchise. If you were a fan of the series because of the intense time limit-based gameplay, you’ll probably be disappointed with this sequel. However, if you’re looking for a fun, zombie-killing experience that won’t stress you out, look no further. Frank West’s return to the series may not please purists, but for those who may have been burnt on it previously, it’s an enjoyable, chaotic adventure packed with solid bonus content.
This review was based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, which was provided for us.