While Christmas has come and gone, it would seem that we are finally able to open up our extra presents from Capcom a few months later in the form of additional content. Dead Rising 4’s Season Pass might not have offered much up to this point outside of dressing up Zombies and survivors in Christmas and Valentine’s Day attires, but we are finally getting the first of two extra modes for the game in the form of Frank Rising. While the concept might not sound as engaging as one would think, it does allow for a reasonable alternative way to play in spite of how it feels a bit tacked on.
The mode starts off exactly where the game’s main story finishes. The game does warn you before you select the mode that this does contain spoilers to the main story, but considering that they didn’t really bother to hold back on spoiling what happens in the game’s finale, there’s really no reason to not summarize the ending here. While trying to escape by Helicopter, Frank was dragged down by the zombies and is eaten alive. This, of course, means that Frank West has been turned into a full zombie and has taken up the characteristics of an Evolved Zombie. While it does seem like all hope is lost for everyone’s favorite zombie killer, it turns out that due to a small event that happened during the main story, Frank still has a bit of humanity in him (or at least enough for him to fire off his trademark snappy comebacks). Working with Dr. Blackburne, the two have 90 minutes to somehow turn himself back human and escape from Willamette before the town gets bombed into oblivion.
In some ways, Frank Rising could be compared to the “Overtime Mode” from the other Dead Rising games. The only problem is that this doesn’t really flow as smoothly as the other games in the series as it does feel like you are just thrown into this whole new gameplay style and have to start from scratch after all the work that was previously done in the main game. Not only that, but the idea of Frank being turned into a zombie is almost played off as a minor inconvenience since he is still acting the exact same as he was throughout Dead Rising 4 with his sarcastic remarks and crafty one-liners. Not to say that Frank Rising needed to be as dramatic as Dead Rising 3, seeing Zombie Frank still being Frank does take away a bit of the urgency and tension of the situation.
As a zombie, Frank is very limited in what he was previously able to do in the game as he is unable to drive or use any kind of weapons or items to heal himself. Thankfully, being an Evolved Zombies does have its own certain set of advantages as he does utilize their abilities to keep him alive against unfavorable odds. These abilities include pouncing at targets from a great distance, vomiting acid onto enemies, and yelling to disorientate all within ear’s reach. These can be fun to utilize, but each does come with their own small set of disadvantages, such as the Pounce’s inability lock-on to a specific target when multiple targets are around. He is also very hungry and will eat anyone around him regardless if they are a Human or a Zombie. Much like in the main game, you can attack enemies to building up your combo counter, that will let you build up stacks of health recovery. Depending on how high the counter gets when you feast, it can help to recover a fair to a substantial part of your overall health. Should you ever find yourself in need to heal up, start attacking and eat away to recover health. Just be sure to be wary of those with guns since it doesn’t take that many rounds to put Frank down, even on the normal difficulty.
As mentioned before, you only have 90 minutes to escape from the city, and time is definitely not on your side. While timers usually aren’t seen as bad in the series, the biggest key difference is that unless if you pause the game, that timer will always count you down, even if you reload a checkpoint or get killed. This means that you are going to have to plan considerably about what you want to accomplish as you won’t have enough time to escape should you just run around and kill zombies for fun like in the main story. This can get especially annoying in cases where after running for a few minutes to reach a challenge, you can get killed while doing it, and get sent back to the last checkpoint that was in a different part of town, thus losing time having to run all the way back there to try again. It is entirely possible to complete everything the mode has to offer within 90 minutes on your first playthrough, but it can be rather hard to do on your first go around, especially when you have little idea of where everything may be located.
Besides the usual pickups that can give Frank special abilities, there is a small side activity in the form that Frank calls a “Princess Wasp.” These wasps are immature Queen Wasps that can help enhance Frank’s zombie abilities to be more effective and dangerous for enemies. When you grab a Princess Wasp, a short challenge will start that will range from killing zombies humans, or equipment, to keeping yourself alive by feasting on zombies, or getting a high combo count. Many of these challenges aren’t too difficult to complete, but the thing to keep in mind is that you are always racing against the clock, so if you fail, you are wasting what little time you have. Abilities from Princess Wasps can help Frank out considerably, but they do not carry over when you start the mode from the beginning; only the basic item pick-ups will be carried over. The reason for this choice was most likely designed to be played more than once and not feeling so overpowered when you start a new run. After a while though, you may start to catch onto how those challenges can be completed quickly and it will become more a time waster than an actual challenge.
Overall, this is a fairly good side DLC and a nice little way to wrap up Dead Rising 4 after what happened with Frank West getting eaten alive. That said, however, this doesn’t really feel like much of an ending that it was getting built up to be. It could be because of how long it took for this to come out, but for a $10 game add-on, it felt like little was provided with how fast it starts and finishes. The change in gameplay style does actually change the game by a fair amount, but if this was how everything was going to wrap up, it left a lot more to be desired. In terms of the Season pass, you might be able to justify the cost depending on how well the mini golf mode turns out but if you are planning to get it as a standalone, you might be better off just not getting bitten in the first place.
- The timer adds urgency of completing the mode as quick as possible.
- Being Undead has its fair share of advantages and challenges
- Mode can be unforgiving should you die or fail a challenge
- Can get put down rather easily if acting recklessly
- Lacking in any proper story conclusion
- Content does not equal Price Tag