What in the world did Capcom do to my Dead Rising series?
I loved the original Dead Rising, warts and all. I loved Dead Rising 2. I loved Dead Rising 3. Dead Rising 4? I’m falling asleep in my chair, mashing the “X” button to attack. Why? Because the game has been stripped of any semblance of the games I once knew.
The original Dead Rising drew a lot of flak from the gaming community because it was almost literally impossible to play through the game’s story line without having to restart multiple, MULTIPLE times. The original Dead Rising took place over the span of a 72 hour chunk of time in a shopping center in Willamette, Colorado, and there were certain undeniable points where you realized that you just were not powerful enough to continue. You’d run to one point on the map just trying to stay alive while survivors, who you didn’t even know existed, were being mauled to death by zombie hordes. The fix there was that you could take your progress and restart at the beginning, much stronger and knowing where these hapless artificially-intelligence driven survivors were hanging out so you could rescue them. But watching that clock count down…there was a mild level of anxiety associated with it, especially if you were trying to get through the game and rescue all the survivors.
Each iteration of the Dead Rising series has backed off from the 72 hour hardcore timer mode, adding check points and softening punishments for missing deadlines until we finally get to Dead Rising 4, where they’ve completely done away with the timer. No “hard” or “legacy” mode. Just gone. Too many people obviously just like running around open spaces wailing on zombies to be bothered with any kind of challenge. On top of that? No difficulty slider? So the mind-numbingly simple Dead Rising 4 can’t even be manually jacked up as far as making it even remotely hard.
But the watering down doesn’t stop there, no sir. Next up is the removal of the original series “psychopaths”. While you’re running around in the world, you would stumble upon human survivors to the zombie apocalypse who were just a shade of disconnected from reality. Some lost their minds, others used the zombie apocalypse as an excuse to go on a mass murdering spree, humans included. They had interesting back stories and cutscenes associated with them: a family of hunters with sniper rifles, the chef who is trying to cook other survivors for a non-existent review with a food magazine, or the corrupt lesbian police officer who is capturing female survivors and threatening to sexually assault them (yikes!). The fights were usually ridiculously difficult when you’d first encounter them, and when you did finally finish them, they died with a satisfying conclusion cutscene and pile of rewards that made taking them on worth the effort.
Dead Rising 4? Psychopaths have been changed into “maniacs”, which may as well just be reskinned zombies with larger health bars. There isn’t a lot of thought put into any of them, they’re all mindlessly simple to kill, and there’s no cutscenes associated with any of them that I’ve seen so far. Gee, thanks.
Survivors, a critical piece of Dead Rising, were extremely fragile flowers in perilous predicaments in the original Dead Rising, usually being held captive by the psychopaths, but some were just stranded by a pack of zombies and needed your help to get safe and back to the “safe room”. If you let the clock run, they usually would be overrun or killed, and that survivor was GONE. Survivors in Dead Rising 4? All seem to be standing on top of something, surrounded by zombies. Go up to the thing they are standing on, kill all the zombies around them, they hop down, slap you on the ass, and are considered “safe”. They don’t require any escorting, you don’t have to hand them weapons so they can make it back to the safe room with you. They just are “rescued” and count toward the total in leveling up your safe room.
The hits keep coming.
Inventory slots. The original Dead Rising was all about managing your paltry inventory spaces. Did you want to carry more gallons of orange juice to recover your health back, or maybe hold onto that barbed wire baseball bat instead? You had to think intelligently and make tough choices about what to carry with you. Dead Rising 4? Inventory slots galore, with the ability to level up quickly and add more slots for health regeneration items as well as melee, ranged and thrown weapon slots. Oh, not enough slots? While back in the original Dead Rising, all four of those categories were stored in the same eight slots on your inventory wheel. Here in Dead Rising 4? Each type has its own inventory! Which means where you had eight slots before, you can have up to three times that by the time you’re done.
And we’re STILL not done. Given all the inventory slots, well you now have ranged weapons galore, which have now been tied to the right trigger of your controller. When you got an assault rifle in the original Dead Rising, it was almost better to throw it out: why kill one zombie with a headshot when you can cut down swathes of zombies in one fell swoop with most combination weapons? But now that you’ve got government black ops running around Williamette, everyone drops some kind of ranged weapon. And there are plenty of devastating ranged weapon combinations you can have in your inventory at any one time.
Exo-suits? Power armor? What? The game isn’t simple enough, the game is set in 2022 where glowing suits of armor are fairly commonplace with the government forces, so you regularly are stumbling across a super suit that gives you about 2-3 minutes of near invulnerability with even more devastating weapon loadouts. Because the game wasn’t simple enough…
Dead Rising 4 feels like what happens when a developer like Capcom abandons their vision in hopes of making a game more accessible to a larger audience, and therefore presumably making more $$ through sales. But it turns out when you listen to the will of the masses, the final product you get back is a watered down version of a game that ends up stripping out any distinction it may have had from the mass of titles out there vying for your holiday shopping dollar.
No, you know what Dead Rising 4 feels like? A bad Japanese musou game like one of the hundreds of Dynasty Warriors titles that exist out there now. Run into a pile of bad guys with your big weapon, mash the attack button until they’re all dead, go to the next area, zzzzzz.
What a shame, I was so looking forward to this game, too. I’m sure I’ll finish it because it’s just so damn easy, but in a world with gamers clamoring for games like Dark Souls that exist purely to kick you while you’re down, unless they patch in something down the road, Dead Rising 4 is most definitely a baby game for babies right now.