There is a memorable scene toward the end of Luc Besson’s 1994 classic film The Professional that kept running through my head while playing Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package. In the scene, Gary Oldman’s corrupt DEA agent realizes that the titular character Leon is no ordinary hitman, and the police team brought in to bring him down is being quickly disassembled and disposed of.
Oldman turns to a guy standing behind him and calmly commands “Matty, bring me everyone.” The guy looks slightly confused, and says “Whadaya mean ‘everyone’?” Gary Oldman, in a moment that would eventually spawn a thousand memes, flips on a dime. Madness fills his eyes, and he turns and screams in poor Matty’s face. “EVERYONE!”
Every time I would start another of the various modes available in Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package, I would picture an executive at Capcom, sitting at the head of a conference table, turning to they guy next to him and saying “Yahiro, give them everything.”
“What do you mean, everything, Urata-san”?”
Dead Rising 4: Frank’s Big Package is so full, so brimming with features, and options, and add-ons, and DLC, and mini-games, and costumes, and weapons that the overall effect borderline overwhelming. Included in this package are: The sizable base game, the Frank Rising DLC, Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf, the Stocking Stuffer Holiday Pack, the My Bloody Valentine Pack, the Street Fighter Outfit Pack, the new Capcom Heroes mode, and a bunch of various weapons and gear add-ons. Altogether, this is a stunning, almost embarrassing wealth of content to receive for 50 bucks. If this feast is the reward that PlayStation owners receive in exchange for waiting out a year of Xbox exclusivity, then as far as I’m concerned, Capcom can go ahead and give every game a year to bake in the Microsoft oven.
Of course, none of this extra content would matter if the base game wasn’t fun to play. Nobody wants a bad game to get bigger. I am happy to report that Dead Rising 4 is extremely fun and engaging.
I know that a lot of fuss was made last year when the game originally released on Xbox. Players were up in arms about changes made to the core gameplay. Long time fans were upset by the removal of the stress-inducing timer, the recasting of the actor playing Frank, the shift away from “psychos” in favor of the new “maniacs”. As someone who has not engaged with the Dead Rising series since the first game, I don’t mind saying that I wasn’t bothered any of these changes. I passionately hated the timer, and felt that it was a restriction on my urges to explore and goof around. I don’t remember what the original Frank sounded like, so to my ears, the new guy captures the spirit of the character I remember just fine. The maniacs are pretty much the same as the psychos. Maniacs are just a bit less splashy and are easier to defeat. As optional bosses, they work fine in the context of the game. I always feel that sequels should be evaluated on their own merits, and I have little interest in joining the mob banging the drum to get the wretched timer back. I had a blast with Dead Rising 4, and the more casual tone it it takes hit me in the sweet spot.
Most of the concepts present in Dead Rising 4 will be familiar to experienced players. Main character Frank is older and slightly more grizzled in this game. As a middle-aged guy myself, it was gratifying to play as a character that is starting to feel the burn a little bit, but is still vital, funny, and engaged. The story line is fun and interesting, and I don’t want to spoil its twists and turns. To give just the sketchiest outline: Frank is tricked into returning to Willamette, the setting of the first game in the series, by a pet student, Vick. While he briefly resists, he is soon captured by the idea of unraveling the mysteries surrounding the reappearance of zombies in the Colorado town and reliving the glories of his journalistic past. After a brief sojourn through a mysterious military base, Frank ends up back in the now-remodeled Willamette mall for the first act of the game. The mall is huge, with tons of fun locations to explore and secrets to find, but when the game opens up to allow Frank out into town the scope of the setting really comes into focus.
While Willamette is not the biggest open world in gaming, it still feels large due to the fact that getting from Point A to Point B is often an adventure in itself. There is a basic fast travel system in place, which I utterly ignored in favor of either plowing through the crowds in one of the many custom vehicles, or fighting my way through the zombie horde to get where I was going. While Frank is capable of carrying a wide array of weapons, even the best weapons break after some use. This led to some situations where I was traveling across town, far from safety, and suddenly I realized that I was on my last weapon and I was surrounded by hundreds of the undead. In these scenarios, things quickly get real, and the game abruptly shifts from an amusing beat-‘em-up to a desperate bare knuckle battle for survival. The overall tone of the game is light and empowering, but Dead Rising 4 is still capable of delivering moments of real tension.
The world itself is detailed and brimming with secrets. While I was trying to mainline the story, I still found myself getting distracted for hours on end exploring the neighborhoods of Williamette. Mysteries are scattered everywhere, and hunting down blueprints to build new weapons and vehicles is endlessly engaging. While the map is covered with destination points by the end of the game, it never feels overwhelming. All of the side activities are strictly optional, and players are welcome to spend the entire game beating zombies with simple baseball bats and ignoring “maniac” bosses if they wish.
Dead Rising 4 takes place in the holiday season, and the game uses its Christmas setting to its full advantage. Morbid holiday humor is waiting around every corner, and there are plenty of festive weapons and costumes to discover. I was playing with Stocking Stuffer DLC activated, which reskins all of the enemies and survivors as elves, gingerbread men, reindeer and snowmen. Christmas tunes play in the background and on the menu screens. Frankly, the entire game made me feel pretty festive, and I would actually consider playing this game annually to get into the holiday spirit.
With all of that in mind, Dead Rising 4 is not perfect. Most of my playthrough was smooth, but I did encounter one game-breaking bug in the last act that stopped my progression. I was also deeply disappointed when, during climactic conversations at the end of the game, recorded lines of dialog suddenly started disappearing, leaving Frank and friends stupidly mouthing silence at each other. While a lot of the bugs seem to be smoothed out in the time since the original release, there are a couple of doozies still hiding in there.
The mountain of add-on content is pretty strong. Most of the smaller packs add costumes and weapons to the game, all of which are unique and amusing. At one point, I was running through a farmer’s field, dressed as Zangief from Street Fighter, trying to line up head shots on zombies with a gun that shot live lobsters. Moments like these are what Dead Rising 4 special. I found myself shaking my head and giggling at the sheer audacity of its goofiness.
The Frank Rising DLC basically adds 90 minutes of story onto the game, allowing players to resolve the (surprising) cliffhanger ending of the main game. Again, I’m trying to keep things spoiler-free, so I’ll just say that Frank finds himself in an altered state after the events of the main game. He has new powers and abilities, but these come with the loss of all of his fun weapons and vehicles. Players almost have to play through this DLC to get the complete story, but I can say that I wish that Capcom had found a way to work it into the main game. I also wish that they had stuck to their guns and left the hated timer in the dustbin where it belongs.
Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf is bewildering, inexplicable, and surprisingly fun. Up to four players can jump into a simplified golf game and dork around whacking the ball into zombies and racking up points. Players only get a putter, one driver and one wedge to choose from, and the three-click control method will be familiar to anyone that has played a golf game during the last 25 years, so there is nothing groundbreaking here as far as golf mechanics go. But obvious care has been put into designing the little 4-hole courses, and making your intended shot requires a bit of thought and skill. Players earn some in-game currency, which can be spent on cosmetic items. I’m a horrible parent, and I played this with my 4-year-old, who giggled incessantly as she decked me out in one wild costume after another. I don’t know if the inclusion of Mini Gold would put me over the top towards buying Frank’s Big Package, but it was a fun diversion for an afternoon, and we might go back to it now and then.
The real star of the show here is the new Capcom Heroes mode. It is bizarre. Just so, so weird. Have you ever seen an off-the-wall movie that was so strange that you wondered who ponied up the cash so this thing would get made? That’s how Capcom Heroes mode made me feel.
Capcom Heroes mode is a new way to play through Dead Rising 4. The entire game has been retooled to support this mode, which must have taken a tremendous amount of effort. Players start as Frank, but instead of weapon and vehicle blueprints and pieces, most of the collectables are new Capcom themed stars and treasures. Finding these stars allows players to play for a short time as one of 17 Capcom characters. Each character comes with their own moves and superpowers, so Megaman can use his power shot to mow down the horde, while Devil May Cry’s Dante has his swords and duel pistols always on hand.
As the player earns more costumes and powers, they are able to fire them up by visiting arcade machines scattered around liberally around the game world. Frank does lose the ability to craft weapons and vehicles in this mode, so I had to carefully plan street travel to ensure that I wasn’t in the midst of a million zombies when the timer ran down and my costume disappeared. This mode adds a ton of replay value to Dead Rising 4, with the caveat that it takes an already goofball game and sends it into the goofball stratosphere.
With the massive amount of cool stuff that comes attached to this already fun game, Frank’s Big Package is a no-brainer. Dead Rising 4 for the PS4 is a gift that keeps on giving. I can see myself playing around in Willamette far beyond the holidays this year, until I have uncovered every corner of this psychotic open world. While not everyone will be on board with this game’s bloody sense of humor, those that will be interested already know who they are. To them I say - don’t hesitate. Frank’s Big Package has got the goods.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Stadia, PS5, PS4, PSVR, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, and a super sweet gaming PC built by Joh Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect.
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