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Hyped or Afraid: Dead Rising 4

I’m a big fan of the Dead Rising series and the original game back in 2006 was the decider for me to get an Xbox 360 back in 2006. After 10 years of insane gore-fest spectacles, it all comes full circle with the return of the iconic zombie killer Frank West (kind of) and the place that started it all. For a while, I was excited about this festive zombie slayer until I spoke to a few people read a few news pieces that led me to have doubts about Dead Rising 4.

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(Dead Rising 4, Capcom Vancouver)

From what I gather, Dead Rising 4 is going to be a major disappointment, and there are plenty of reasons to believe this. For those who are going on the hate train or those who are like me and have no idea what the hell is going on, I’ll list a few concerns.

I’m one of those people who normally doesn’t read up much on upcoming releases, so when I do play them, I get a full experience of unfettered discovery and exploration. So, to my surprise, when I read a few changes that have happened . . .

The Voice for the Undead

The change of Frank West’s voice is something I haven’t fully understood the logic behind, yet Capcom is determined it’s for the best. Original voice actor Terrence J Rotolo was never contacted to be brought back for the 4th installment, and thus a new voice actor was given the role. Capcom stated that the change is due to the grizzled progression of Frank West from the first game until now. As the game is set 16 years after the events of the original, one is left to believe that Capcom thinks an individual’s voice would drastically change along with their facial structure—so much so that Frank looks nothing like himself. It’s puzzling since Frank was already classed as an old man, and after 16, I’m sure his voice wouldn’t sound like an impression of himself, nor would he be as flexible and agile as he still is. The new, unknown voice actor just feels like he’s doing the Frank West impression as though he were pretending to be Steven Blum at the same time.

Just sounds weird.

So the change of voice is a bad move, and it’s rather tasteless and ruthless to both fans and the original voice actor. But wait, there’s more!

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(Dead Rising 4, Capcom Vancouver)

Got all the time in the World

Next big thing: no time limits. Yes, you read that right, no time limits. The main feature that made the series so dynamic and compelling is now gone. Now I can understand both sides of the argument here. If the world is as big as Capcom stated it would be, then I wouldn’t mind having less pressure to go and explore it. But what made the original games so compelling and the replay value so high was the factor of time. The original games were much stronger with less time, a feature that made you play again and again to find and complete as much as you could. The third game just gave way too much time, and thus you didn’t feel compelled to go and play it again in a hurry. So removing the timer completely could make or break the game, depending on how much there is to do and if you need that time to explore and interact with the world. So if the world is dynamic enough to change with your actions, or if new missions and paths open, then I believe it’s worth removing the timer. But if it’s the same structure then, it’s a foolish move.

But don’t worry, you can get the timer back by buying the season pass. Really?! Capcom is seriously treating gamers like this?

It’s still Dead Rising at heart

Ok, so far it’s not looking good, so let’s get to something more positive. Dead Rising 4 is set during the Christmas season, which we normally don’t get in video games. It’ll be great to see a map that looks immensely festive and joyful, while the game itself satirizes themes of capitalism and consumerism. Also, we return to the Willamette mall where the series started, and that’s pretty awesome. I love the high-quality destruction offered by Dead Rising games, the complete lunacy that comes from destroying hordes of undead in a bloody, gruesome spectacle.

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(Dead Rising 4, Capcom Vancouver)

Regeneration and no snacking

On a side note, the health bar is now regenerative, which, again, has upset quite a few fans. Personally, I’m not so bummed out about this. I did like the progressive aspect of previous games, and leveling up to withstand more damage was very rewarding. But previous Dead Rising titles were brutally punishing at times and could pull off some of the cheapest moves to make you throw in the towel. This feature will definitely change the pacing and can even make gameplay more frantic or demanding in certain ways. If there are more zombies on screen, or if there are different types of zombies, it might be worthwhile for this change to be made.

Red eye reduction

Then again, another change is that stronger zombies will no longer appear after 7pm. Zombies no longer get glowing red eyes and become stronger after the sun goes down, even though we’ve seen images of red-eyed zombies. Personally, I don’t mind this change. I never really saw the change from standard zombie to super zombie when the clock hit 7pm. Zombies gaining red eyes was the only real change for me, and everything else felt the same when playing. But this is the least dramatic change, and hopefully there are more enemy types, zombie types, and other NPCs to make up for the omission. I haven’t heard much, but here’s to hoping.  

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(Dead Rising 4, Capcom Vancouver)

Too many slayers in the kitchen

Returning to the bad, the multiplayer has been downgraded. Ok, so that’s pretty lame, but, again, let’s take a look and see if the change has any effect on the single player experience. If there are certain set events or narrative segments that might encourage more of an interesting single player journey, then okay, I’ll give it a pass. It would be nice to have co-op in the story mode as it does help out with new players progressing in those difficult early stages. But one can only hope that the multiplayer is as good as a standalone mode?

Sadly it doesn’t sound that way. The new multiplayer sounds like a very watered down set of campaign missions that offer no real progression or rewards. It just sounds like a waste of time, but we could be wrong and new features might be introduced.  

Overall, things aren’t looking too great for the DR4 camp. A lot of these changes are attributed to the developers being both passionate and greedy. They’re interested already in making Dead Rising 5, 6, and 7 without this game even being released. I kind of had a feeling that this would be the case and that this Dead Rising could end up feeling like a useless filler sequel to bridge the gaps between the more important games. Even worse, it could just be a stale testing ground for new mechanics and gameplay elements, which at the moment, that aren’t being used all that well.

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(Dead Rising 4, Capcom Vancouver)

I hope that this new Dead Rising will raise the bar for the series in some respect by showing off more impressive hand-crafted weaponry, fiendishly destructive modes of transport, and a new, vibrant setting. Because of these inclusions, we can probably forgive the game’s shortcomings. The game may be great, and with these changes, the pacing might improve to make for a more energized zombie-slaying simulator. It might be worth it to give this game a chance.

I still think it’s totally insane that the timer is being sold in the season pass, the multiplayer has been cut down, and the real Frank West won’t return. Now that the game has released and some are already playing, we’ll have to see how Capcom fares this holiday season.

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