Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gabriel Jones 04.02.2018

Review for Dead Rising 4: Frank

It's 2021 and Willamette just can't seem to catch a break. Shortly after the grand opening of the Willamette Memorial Megaplex, the city was overrun by the walking dead. Didn't this already happen about fifteen years ago? Well, it's as the saying goes: Those who don't learn from history are eaten by zombies. Anyway, ace journalist Frank West is back on the scene. His previous investigation into a military base went awry, and he has to prove his innocence. Furthermore, his protégé, a student by the name of Vickie Chu, is somewhere in Willamette, braving the legion of undead. It's time for "Frank the tank" to come out of retirement in Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package.

After completing Dead Rising 4, this critic found himself asking "Who was this for?" One of the biggest mistakes a videogame can make is failing to understand its target audience. Oft-times with games it's pretty simple to figure out who they are intended for. Shmups, or STGs as they are sometimes called, are designed to appeal to a niche crowd. They are generally 30-45 minutes long, feature a high level of difficulty, as well as plenty of replay value. Generally, fans of the Dead Rising series appreciate that they are both playgrounds for undead shenanigans, as well as stress-inducing lessons in time management. With this standard in mind, it's clear that the latest instalment doesn't compare to its predecessors.

Perhaps that is being a little unfair. After all, it's only natural for a series to change as it progresses. Capcom's own Resident Evil is a testament to that. There's definitely a market for an open-world zombie slashathon, and the possibilities for designing a compelling game off of that basis are endless. Seeing as how this entry excises the timer mechanic, more of an emphasis can be placed on creating a world that is fun and thrilling to explore. Mainstays, such as the zombies, psychopaths, and combination weapons, could be taken in new directions. Maybe there would be more of a survival element, as the protagonist has to make use of constantly dwindling resources. The missions could also be really unique, with multiple methods for completing them. There's a lot of potential for greatness here, but this game doesn't even make the attempt.

To put it bluntly, Dead Rising 4 flounders. It's a game designed to distract the player as much as possible, so that they don't realise how much they dislike it, until after it has ended. This tends to be an all too common theme among open-world titles. Rather than try to design something new and refreshing, developers cram in as much meaningless content as possible. As long as someone is grabbing useless collectibles or earning pointless level-ups, then they are accomplishing something. They are filling bars and getting experience points, but not actually doing anything that can be considered engaging or rewarding.

Screenshot for Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package on PlayStation 4

The problems start piling up very early on. Frank West is introduced and he's an insufferable caricature of a human being. He's the kind of low-life that's prone to godawful jokes and hostile outbursts. The virtuous qualities he exhibited in previous incarnations were excised. Apparently this was done so he could treat his only friend like a complete stranger, go on idiotic tangents, and be a black hole of charisma. Not a moment goes by without Frank's inane commentary. It's like the writers were trying way too hard, and the final result is just completely embarrassing. The jokes are insulting, dated, expletive-laden, and painfully unfunny.

Seriously, it's like this doesn't even comprehend comedy. Humour is at its best when it's unpredictable. If the audience knows when and where a joke is going to occur, then it doesn't actually matter what the content of that joke is. Previous instalments in the Dead Rising franchise struck a balance between horror and comedy. Those moments of levity came when the viewer least expected them to occur. There's no balance to be found in this entry. It's a constant stream of setups and deliveries, which sucks the air out of the room. Shortly after the opening mission, Frank West becomes a fugitive. He evades the ongoing manhunt by changing his name to, get this, Hank East. In less than an hour, this has established that it's all a total farce not worth taking seriously.

Apologies for dwelling on this subject, but what happened to Frank West? It is one thing to change his appearance and his voice, but the shift in personality was completely unnecessary. In Dead Rising, Frank was a cocky journalist who had the chops to back it up, and he was thrown into a situation nobody could have ever imagined. Nevertheless, he persevered and did his best to help others, without complaining incessantly or cracking obnoxious jokes. In this game's darkest moments, his silence helped convey the sadness and horror. In most respects, he's an everyman, just another guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the fourth entry, however, it's the Frank West show: all Frank, all the time. He does not know when to shut up and it's frustrating to witness. Not since Samus Aran in [url=/reviews/Metroid%20Other%20M-all-all-games-by-all-all-all.html&page=1&w=1&sort=]Metroid: Other M has there been such a ruthless character assassination.

Then there are the zombies. On their own, the undead creatures aren't all that threatening. They are slow, mindless, and easily defeated by the myriad of weapons Frank has available to him. Prior entries addressed this issue through the timer and escort mechanics. Zombies work better not as an enemy, but as a force of nature. They are like a constant obstacle, designed to prevent the protagonist from accomplishing their goals. Every second that is spent getting trapped and grabbed by these foes threatens the lives of the survivors. Even time spent killing them is usually time wasted. The player has to think on the fly to avoid the undead swarm and reach the next objective.

Screenshot for Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package on PlayStation 4

Since this version doesn't have a timer, nor an escort system worth noting, the zombies are just… there. No concentrated effort was made to design zombies that are more aggressive and dangerous. Dealing with them doesn't require any intuition or creativity. Occasionally, there are enemies known as "Fresh Zombies." These are a lot more aggressive, but too few and far between to make a difference. Hostile survivors are also present, and are always taking pot-shots at Frank. Still, it's nothing that hasn't been done before. Perhaps the developer should have taken a cue from the Saint's Row series. There could have been multiple survivor factions, all with their own weapons. They would hunt Frank, as well as each other, which would help to make it more dynamic and interesting. Alas, that wasn't the case. It's just a few scattered goons with gas masks, the occasionally maniac, and a military group known as Obscuris, which behaves just like the goons.

It can't be emphasised enough just how boring killing zombies has become. This title dresses up the slaughter with dozens of silly weapons and vehicles, but it's let down by the dodgy mechanics. There's no satisfaction in hitting a zombie with a spiked bat, an electrified battle axe, or a laser sword. The lack of an impact when a heavy blunt object connects with rotting flesh leaves players with an empty feeling. Running over hundreds of the walking dead with a car also isn't any fun. There's no risk involved. The zombies might do minimal damage to the vehicle, but they won't try to pull Frank out onto the street. To put it another way, the undead don't have any impact on the hero's ability to drive. He might as well be driving through an empty road, or maybe thousands of buckets filled with red paint.

While the Willamette Memorial Mall is fun to poke around in, the surrounding city is as dull as could possibly be imagined. The circular layout is convenient for driving around, but that's the only positive. Most of the time, all there is to see are gas stations, assorted businesses, and abandoned homes. It's strange really, because this isn't Willamette's first rodeo. It was attacked by zombies fifteen years ago. One would assume that after such a disaster, more precautions would be taken to protect against another attack. Granted, there are safe-houses, shelters, and camping supplies everywhere, but nothing in the way of human life. This issue ties into the absence of any real gangs or factions. There's one group, led by some creep named Tom, but they are a non-factor for the majority of the game. Paula, one of the NPCs, has a zombie podcast with about 573 subscribers. It doesn't even feel like there are that many living people to be found. Even if there was, they are all little more than blank slates that need rescuing. In other words, there's a distinct lack of personality.

Frank's Big Package also suffers from having too many conveniences and not enough consequences. Food is everywhere, and replenishes large amounts of health. The parts to make overpowered combination weapons are always nearby, so players never have to make do with whatever is lying around. Even in the exceedingly rare case of death, very little progress is ever lost. With enough level-ups, it's possible to regenerate health, carry mountains of ammo, and never want for anything. If a survivor is killed, it's no big deal, because another will respawn before long. While there are multiple difficulty settings, they don't actually benefit the game. All they do is make Frank take more damage and weaken his arsenal. Due to the poor hit-boxes and combat mechanics, it's nearly impossible not to get hurt. On the harder settings, all that happens is that the cheap deaths will start to pile up.

Screenshot for Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package on PlayStation 4


In this edition of Dead Rising 4, an array of additional modes and extra content is included. Frank Rising takes place shortly after the events of Dead Rising 4. Frank has been turned into a zombie. It's now a race against the clock to escape Willamette and regain his humanity. In previous Dead Rising releases this would essentially be considered the "Overtime" mode. As a zombie, Frank can perform leaping attacks, vomit acid, and chow down on adversaries. It's a neat idea, but this mode doesn't take it very far.

In Capcom Heroes, Frank collects the costumes of various characters from popular Capcom franchises. In doing so, he earns their powers, which can then be used to destroy the zombie hordes. For the most part, it's essentially a repeat of the main campaign, except now the protagonist can fight like Dante, fire the patented mega buster, or unleash the might of Mech-Zangief's spinning piledriver. By completing special missions, Frank earns extra finishing moves and "evil" renditions of every costume. This charming concept wears itself thin before long, mainly because the combat is still dreadful.

Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf is exactly what is expected. In this mode, some of Willamette's survivors get together some of Mini Golf antics. By switching between a driver, a wedge, and a putter, the golfers attempt to beat each other's scores, and maybe kill a few zombies in the process. This just isn't fun at all. The timing on the button-presses seems to have input delay, which leads to shots hooking or slicing every which way. It would probably be more fun if this mode took place in a regular Mini Golf course, but players had to fend off zombies while putting.

As for the rest of the downloadable content in Frank's Big Package, there's not much to say, seeing as how they consist of holiday theme packs, character customisations, and special weapons. If the player hasn't already been driven insane by this instalment's Christmas theme, then they might get some mild amusement out of dressing the zombies in elf costumes, or having Frank put on a tacky holiday sweater. The other holiday theme pack is called My Bloody Valentine. All of the zombies wear love-struck servbot heads, and survivors look like roses and chocolate people. There aren't any words capable of describing it.

Screenshot for Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 3 out of 10


When it comes to Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package, the same question comes up over and over again: Who is this for? Here's a title that not only fails to win over fans of Dead Rising, but it also fails to win over fans of videogames. Slaying hundreds of thousands of zombies is not compelling entertainment, especially when the combat mechanics are so unsatisfying. The entire adventure just feels tired and cynical, sapping players of the necessary energy to carry on with their day. This critic racked up well over 25 hours of play and didn't laugh, not even once. What else needs to be said? Maybe this game is for people who no longer wish to experience joy.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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