Dead Rising 4
Gamesmaster|January 2017

Frank’s back, but is he still a big man on Krampus?

Frank West is exactly the kind of hero we needed after 2016: a man who knows how to enjoy himself in spite of circumstance. Sure, his acerbic wit and not-very-professional detachment are a front, but it’s still soothing to spend time over the shoulder of a character who’s happy to wade through a scrum of the undead and bust into a military fort dressed like Captain Commando, wielding a swordfish crossbow and cracking wise all the while. Why so serious, indeed.

West has lived through this nightmare once already, of course, back when he kicked off the series in the Willamette mall. He’s roped back into town by the ZDC (think CDC for zombies), but also a rivalry with former pupil Vick, who has taken issue with her ex-mentor’s story-first approach to the discovery of a fresh outbreak in the area and gone rogue. No one scoops Frank West.

Yet the return to old curb-stomping grounds is still more reminiscent of Dead rising 3 than the original, for better and for worse. Time limits, which had grown steadily more generous across the series, have now evaporated from the single-player game. Where once an electric guitar and the pointier end of a sporting goods shop’s range might see you through, you’ll now need to cobble together sturdier combo weapons to make serious headway through the hundreds of zombies on-screen. And the characterful confines of the Willamette Memorial Megaplex Mall are only a tiny fragment of the open world map.

No time pressure also means there’s no pacing to speak of, no hurry to be anywhere but clowning around and hunting down fresh blueprints for ever more demented – and rarely less than entertaining – botch-job weapons. The cockamamie story exists in little stasis pods, ready to be deployed when you’ve had your fill of mass mayhem.

Whack jobs

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