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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Dead Rising 4.

TranscriptEdit

So now that we finally hauled ourselves out of Christmas period and the usual quagmire of familial tension where all the chocolates exist in some strange dimension out of phase with the rest of the universe 'coz everyone's too polite to start eating them, let's now immediately remind ourselves of it by playing Dead Rising 4, a.k.a. The Dead Rising Holiday Special. Setting a game in Christmas is the perfect method for drastically reducing its shelf life, especially for me. That fucking sleigh ride song is irritating enough without having to listen to it constantly while browsing for gifts in a shop only tangentially related to sleigh riding.

It's possible that playing Dead Rising 4 in New Year catchups time is doing it a disservice. And if anyone does think that, they'd better hold onto their trouser repair kit for the disservice the rest of this video's going to do, as I think I understand Capcom's thinking here. "Hey, let's make Dead Rising 4 a Christmas game." Some bold visionary must have said. "That way, everyone will be playing it through a haze of food coma and Baileys Irish Cream and won't notice it for the pile of steaming reindeer nuggets that it is!" In fairness, most of that is in comparison to previous Dead Rising games for Dead Rising 4 seems to consist entirely of bits of other Dead Rising games torn off in fistfuls and strung together with Christmas lights.

Recurring Dead Rising hero Frank West recurs once again, now sporting a slightly different face and voice and having apparently devoted his life to becoming a faintly desperate tribute Bruce Campbell's career-making performance in the Evil Dead films. He's dragged into a fresh batch of zombie hell by an overeager student seeking to expose the government conspiracy, for as has long been established, the government of the Dead Rising universe is a bit of one track mind and set off zombie plagues to deal with everything from intelligence leaks to lapses in state education funding. But Frank and his protégé have a falling-out because Frank insists on not getting involved in the story, a policy he states firmly while he's smashing a few roomfuls of the newly undead into the skirting boards with a bit of old pipe and he ends up alone in the latest outbreak trying to track her down driving armored bulldozers through crowded streets in order to not be involved as efficiently as possible.

The first thing you need to know is that Dead Rising 4 doesn't have a fixed time limit or mission deadline - you remember, that thing that every Dead Rising has and what makes them interesting and is as much a part of Dead Rising as the sense of betrayal is part of getting kicked in the balls by your beloved horse. What it does have is linear sequence of missions that will still be waiting for you even if you sit down in the mud outside and make daisy chains for 11 hours - you remember, the way every bloody sandbox game works. Dead Rising has taken the path to innovation that entails doing the shit that everyone else does, which is innovative in the same sense that the grey goo scenario is innovative. "Oh wow, my legs have been harvested by a ravenous unstoppable nanoswarm. This will add an intriguing new twist to the upcoming line dancing tournament."

I shouldn't have to explain time limits were there to add a unique challenge. Yes, it could occasionally get in the way of trying on hilarious barbecue aprons and tricycling down the escalator. But isn't that cathartic fun all the more satisfying when we know we parceled our time to allow for a quick barbecue apron session in between making progress and aren't just cocking about? I got through the entirety of Dead Rising 4 without dying once, and while I'd love to attribute that to my finally honed thumb on finger skills that are why they now know me downtown as Yahtzee Croshaw the Weapon of Mass-turbation, I think it has more to do with the fact that this game is mostly cocking about, that you get an overgenerous 500-point health bar right off the bat, and it feels like every food or healing item fills it up most of the way.

And on that note, inventory is now divided into types. So you can have a healing item, a throwing item, a melee weapon, a ranged weapon and your preferred genre of porn all at your hands with a touch of a button, which is all very convenient but 'convenient' is one of the words that doesn't belong anywhere near Dead Rising alongside 'restraint' and 'permanently exclusive'. If all you want is the catharsis of splattering thousands of zombies with weapon and vehicle combos copy-pasted from the last two games to a merry holiday soundtrack, then I suppose Dead Rising 4 offers that at least. But you'd get the same experience from pouring 5000 baby chicks into a meat grinder and putting on 'It's a wonderful life' in the background.

Now, doing nothing but comparing Dead Rising 4 to its predecessors would be a stubborn, churlish and counterproductive thing to do. So let's keep doing it. Hey, remember how the boss fights with psychos used to be elaborate and interesting with colorful characters and unique attacks? Well, instead of that, now you fight generic dudes in silly outfits with slightly longer health bars - another wonderful innovation to the format. "Oh look. The grey goo scenario has eaten my arms now as well. What a perfect opportunity to learn how to balance things on my nose."

Alright, fine. Dead Rising 4 introduces a couple of new mechanics. You can equip powered armor in order to continue doing the same zombie splattering you've been doing all along except with slightly more defense. And there are stealth mechanics now and HOLY SHIT I just thought of another word that doesn't belong anywhere near Dead Rising. Stealth is for characters who aren't carrying around 3 dynamite crossbows and a giant acid-spewing hammer, thank you very much. To me, stealth mode was just walk obnoxiously slowly button that I only ever pressed because I forgot that it wasn't the sprint.

So many bugbears in Dead Rising 4 but the biggest and sweatiest one for me is that it's reduced everything to generic random encounters wherein previous games every psycho and escortable civvy was unique. Even so, perhaps it could at least have been dismissed as a cheaply knocked out Christmas special with a plot generic enough to be safely discounted from the canon were it not for one thing: (time for a great big ending spoiler so if you're waiting for Dead Rising 4 to inevitably stop being XBone exclusive so you can at least ruin next Christmas with it, then this might be the point to stop viewing) Frank West dies at the end.

Yes, that lovable original Dead Rising protagonist so popular they had to do a version of Dead Rising 2 with him literally patched in to replace the other dude who was even in Marvel vs Capcom once, which was a little bit weird but nonetheless fun. This game features his canon death. Great! Might as well have hit him with a bus in the end credit to the next Phoenix Wright. Still, as I said, he looks, talks and acts different in this game so if it makes you feel any better you can pretend he's actually Frank's twatty cousin Marlon, who didn't get any of the lovable genes but crikey, does he know a lot about the Evil Dead films!

AddendaEdit

  • Usually rises around 7: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Sometimes I wish I could augment my respiratory organs to continue functioning in an atmosphere of pure Baileys
  • Grey goo scenario currently changing trains at Edmonton
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata

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