What threat is there from a zombie with no teeth?

User Rating: 4 | Dead Rising 4 XONE

EDIT: I just noticed after posting this review that the game is already knocked down to half price less than a month after its release. That really tells you all you should need to know. But if you want the full tirade, then read on:

Dead Rising, as a franchise, once had a certain personality. These were never easy games, tho not truly difficult either. They had a particular set of challenges that fans and followers either enjoyed or hated, but all who played it remembered it one way or another. It wasn't for everybody, that's for sure, but it was unique and interesting and some of us truly loved what it was.

This fourth (actually 8th) game tho, has managed to surgically remove all the things that anyone has ever said they didn't care for about Dead Rising while replacing it with nothing at all. In doing so they've managed to sand off all the corners so nothing can snag, they've put hand rails on all the walkways so no one can fall, and they've made sure the game is so safe and inoffensive that it retains no personality. It's gameplay loop is about as complex as a phone game (tap "X" kill zombie, tap "X" more kill zombie more). This is Dead Rising for people who hated everything about Dead Rising. Because the developers clearly don't care about the folks who kept the franchise afloat for years, they want to court a new audience. Now would someone looking for a new market think to make up a new game or come up with a new I.P.? Not a chance in Hell. Instead they've decided to change everything that made Dead Rising... well, that made it Dead Rising! You don't like timers on the missions? Well we got rid of them! You don't like tough challenges with the Psychopaths? Well we replaced them with these Maniac fights that don't take but a minute to beat! You think saving your game is too much of a chore? Well we'll just put in this checkpoint system so you don't have to think about it at all! You don't like an older character as your protagonist? Well don't worry kids, this new imagining of Frank is hip and silly and he jokes at everything like Iron Man does in the Marvel movies! You like those, right? Well he's just like Tony Stark with a camera now! Who cares about the decade of character development that came before our game! I get the need to appeal to a larger audience, truly I do. However what Capcom Vancouver have done is make a game that more players can like, but that few players will love. It asks nothing of you and its rewards are slim.

At the heart of the new version of Dead Rising (Let's call it what it is: D.R.I.N.O. or "Dead Rising In Name Only") we've been given is it's main character. Tho he's called Frank West, he barely resembles what used to be known as Frank West. Sure, he carries a camera like Frank should, but while he is supposed to be an older "world weary" Frank, he looks about 10 years younger than the last time we saw him in Dead Rising 2: Case West, his hairline has grown back, and despite the reasons Capcom Vancouver stated for changing the voice actor, he sounds not like a grizzled older person who's seen it all but rather like a petulant child through most of the game. Popping off wisecracks and snarking his way through the games narrative. The thing I don't understand is, why not just make a new character like they have in the past? If they were going to make everything up from scratch anyway, what's the point of calling him Frank West?

In my reviews of other Dead Rising titles, I've always praised Capcom Vancouver for being brave and progressing the plot of the games through new characters with each iteration. Sure, after Chuck's adventure they added Frank back in for Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, but that was a side game and non-canonical. It was bold to not rely on using the fan favorite character people loved in 2006 to keep the series moving. It opened up new story possibilities and it made sense when your character had totally different abilities like Chuck's Combo-Weaponry and Nick's Combo-Vehicles. Those were brave moves worthy of praise in an industry that, well, that usually does what they did here in DR4.

I could give a run down of all the myriad changes that Capcom Vancouver made to the core of this game when compared to the previous entries in the franchise but if I'm honest it's already been done, and better than I could do it. In the Giant Bomb forums a user named AlisterCat wrote out a great list of the changes which can be viewed HERE if you're interested. Thing is, there's no way to say which changes are good and which are bad because each person will have their own opinion on those. Better to simply read his list and decide for yourself if you're of a mind to pick this one up. I can tell you though, that as someone who once called Dead Rising his favorite series that they've changed so much I don't even recognize this new game. It's not fun, it's not challenging, and while the story is interesting I can't say it is something I want to revisit like all the previous games in the series. I understood when they took the edge off for Dead Rising 3. It was easier, but it walked the tightrope pretty well. If you liked the older versions, you could play Nightmare mode. And even the easier campaign mode was still fun because it was still similar enough to what came before. It was a nice balance that didn't throw away all the years of story and gameplay that came before it.

This is awful "design-by-committee" game development at it's most egregious. I'm not going to keep this diatribe going any longer because if you've read this far, you can likely surmise how I feel about DR4 (DRINO). I can't hate it, I spent too many years loving Dead Rising and Frank West to say that I hate it completely, but I don't like it. Not one bit. I hate that the inventory thinks I'm too stupid to manage it by myself so they broke it into categories. I hate that they took away mixing food and healing items together for temporary status effects. I hate that they thought so little of the player that they can't even allow you to save on your own anymore, instead opting for a hit-or-miss checkpoint system instead of the old way of save files you manage on your own. This game may have an "M" rating on it's cover, but it's a game for toddlers in the gameplay, challenge, and even graphics departments (seriously it looks awful and seems to have less zombies on screen than DR3 did). If you hated what Dead Rising used to be, heck give this one a try. You may like it, but I doubt you'll love it. And if you loved what Dead Rising once was, steer far clear of this ugly, easy, trainwreck of a game and play literally anything else.