After a year of exclusivity on Microsoft’s Xbox, Dead Rising 4 has finally made its way to PlayStation 4. The Christmas-themed zombie slasher was fun back then, and it’s still fun now – only its got its stockings stuffed with all of the post-release content, plus a few new silly modes to double up on the absurdity.

We played and reviewed Dead Rising 4 a year ago, and it’s the very same game on its new home.

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“It’s the fun version of the zombie apocalypse, a ball to play during the end of days. It’s the Ragnarok-inspired silliness of This Is The End compared to the downright depressing tone and direction that every other game in the genre has taken.

Sometimes, you don’t need to be scared to within an inch of your life or asked to think of the ramifications of the dead rising from their graves. Some days, you just want to attach a pair of hand grenades to a sledgehammer and swing for a home-run. And that’s an itch that Dead Rising 4 scratches perfectly.”

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That’s what we said last year, and it’s a sentiment I wholly agree with, even though I expected to to hate it. I’m an old-school Dead Rising fan, you see – and I feel in love with Frank West’s first trip to the doomed city of Willamette. Dead Rising, with its hordes of zombies and the pressing sense of urgency created by its perpetually ticking timer, was one of the first games I played on Microsoft’s still young Xbox 360 that signalled a new generation. The sprawling mall, the innumerable throngs of the undead, the sheer amount of fun things to do.

The same things that I loved about the series – which have become its hallmarks – are many of the same things that have turned many others away from the game. And they’re now gone. The timer, which adds an overbearing sense of urgency, like the dangling sword of Damocles, is gone. On the one hand, it gives the game a heck of a lot of freedom, allowing you to wander the newly re-zombified town of Willamette without restriction or worry. It lets you look for the best zombie-slaying weapons, and scour the world for secrets, weapons and blueprints without the threat of having to start from the very beginning weigh down on you.

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As far as the story goes, it’s pretty clichéd stuff. Frank West (who’s covered wars, you know?) is forced to go back to Willamette after another outbreak happens. It’s up to Frank and his camera to get to the bottom of just who’s behind this new outbreak in a post-Zombrex world. It’s generic and rote, serving as little more than window dressing and an excuse to kill zombies in gloriously absurd ways. That’s okay, because when it comes to slaying the shambling undead, it shines. As has become a staple of the series, Frank is able to construct all manner of silly weapon from the stuff you’ll find liberally littering the open world. An electrified wreath? Check. A Crossbow that shoots explosive fireworks, making zombies explode in bursts of colour? Yes, that too. Greatly overpowered exo-suits that make tearing through entire swarms of walkers like taking a cybernetic knife through hot, undead butter? Yeah, that’s there too.

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What is new, and one of the things that gives this re-release its moniker as “Frank’s Big Package” is some fun, but wholly superfluous DLC. Capcom Heroes mode is arguably the best of the bunch. It’s a remix of the campaign that gets rid of the scavenging and weapon crafting, letting you instead pummel zombies as one of 16 heroes from Capcom’s games. If you’ve ever wanted to hadouken your way through the undead as Ryu, blast them with psychic energy as M. Bison or shoot them with electrified lemons as Mega-Men, then the Capcom Heroes mode is exactly what you’re looking for. By using the arcade machines peppered throughout the campaign, you’re able to temporarily turn into one of 16 Capcom heroes – with unlimited ammo on a cooldown timer. It removes any of the game’s challenge, but adds an extra layer of absurdity.

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Joining that is Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf, which as the name implies is a silly take on putt-putt, only with zombies in the way, and explosive ways of making them dead again. There’s also the Frank Rising DLC, a short story-focused campaign that brings Frank West’s ride to an end. The co-op mode returns as well, letting up to four players play through timed missions. It adds the urgency of a timer, but skips out on the open world fun. As a caveat, none of the DLC is included on the disc, and is available as a 17GB download.

A year on, and Dead Rising 4is still a blast to play, and the perfect bit of catharsis for this time of the year. As real-life malls descend into the abyss, filled with shambolic people who may as well be zombies, it’s fun to mow them down digitally – with Christmas music playing in the background.

Last Updated: December 19, 2017

Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package
Summary
With staples like the persistent timer and sporadic saves gone, the urgency and dread is gone – allowing Dead Rising to be the silly, absurd bit of zombie-slaying mayhem it always wanted to be. Purists may scoff, but there’s no denying that it’s fun – and just about the best Christmas game in existence.
7.5
Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package was reviewed on PlayStation 4

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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