Frank West is back, well kinda, taking away his new look and voice and all, but still, it’s the wise cracking Frank West that fans know and love (kinda).  Set in the year 2022, a good 16 years after the events of the original outbreak in Willamette and a year after the events of Dead Rising 3, Photo Journalist Frank West (who’s covered wars if you didn’t know) is pulled back into the town where it all began.  To be fair to Frank, he’s tried to live on the down-low, working as a colleague professor.  However, when one of his most talented students, Vicky Chu convinces Frank to accompany her to investigate a military compound on the outskirts of Raccoon…, sorry, Willamette, Colorado, it opens up a big ole can of zombie worms and he soon finds himself to be labelled a wanted man, falsely accused by the government.

However, despite being on the run, that doesn’t stop Frank from being headhunted by Brad Park, an agent of the ZDC (Zombie Defence & Control) and convinces our photo journalistic, reluctant hero to save the day once more with Frank hoping to clear his name and get exclusive rights on the story (naturally).  Oh, and to make things worse, Frank West has to go back to Willamette to uncover the truth of the latest zombie outbreak on Black Friday of all days!  What could go wrong?

Gameplay wise, things will feel very familiar to fans of the series.  You will hack, slash, smash and craft your way through an impressive amount of zombie hordes once more in the playground of the Willamette Shopping Mall.  However, you will also be able to explore the Mall’s surrounding of the iconic series location, offering quite possibly the most diverse open-sandbox world ever seen in the series yet.  The playground is that big, that you could easily spend many hours exploring the huge city before you’ve really even put a dent in the main campaign missions.  The sandbox is ripe with side-quests and hidden treasures, not to mention the therapeutic pleasure of zombie.  The only real negative that I have with the side-activities, is that it would have been great to have some added stories to some of the NPC’s, but then I’ve perhaps been spoilt with the likes of Assassin’s Creed: Origins and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

While the melee combat feels very satisfying, the firearm combat could have been better, as I’d often find myself throwing melee weapons, instead of aiming down a scope in the heat of the moment.  A part of that reason is that it can feel a tad fiddly when trying to quickly navigate through your melee, firearm, throwing and health inventory items.  Which could just be me, but this is an issue that I’ve had the previous games and it seems to be not all that improved upon in the latest outing.

One aspect that does feel improved upon however, is the crafting system.  Not only does there seem to be more items than ever before to craft, such as weapons, vehicles and more, crafting items on the fly without the aid of a workbench feels more of an easy process, especially when as long as you have the resources and blueprints, you can build items there and then by simply holding down the X button.  The levelling up systems is also more in-depth with every ability having a purpose, from improved melee or firearm combat, improving your stamina, XP boosts and so forth.  Like the vast majority of games with this RPG-like mechanic, you will earn Skill Points as you level-up to improve Frank West how you see fit.

As with previous games, you’ll also have your psychopaths scattered throughout the map, which act as optional mini boss fights if you will.  Now I admit, ever since the first game, as much as I love the Dead Rising series, I can’t really say that I’ve particularly enjoyed these encounters as they can often be memorable for the wrong reasons, such as those annoying convicts from the original game.  The main reason of my dislike for many of these mini boss fight encounters is how fiddly the combat in the series can be, which end up being more frustrating than they should be.  So I find myself avoiding these optional encounters when I can, rather than taking them on due to the added annoyance, which is a shame.

Unlike the original release of Dead Rising 4 on Xbox One, this “Frank’s Big Package” edition comes with a whole host of content, such as all previously released DLC.  Among all the DLC costumes and weapons are some additional stories, such as Frank Rising, which is a story expansion; however I won’t go into details for spoiler purposes.  There is also Super Ultra Rising 4 Mini Golf, which is a surprisingly fun and addictive mini-golf game with all the added Dead Rising wacky antics, complete with character customisation and progression.  This can be played on your lonesome or with three other friends locally or online.

New to Frank’s Big Package is Capcom Heroes, which gives you the opportunity to play the campaign from the perspective as some of Capcom’s most iconic characters such as Dante (Devil May Cry), Ryu (Street Fighter), Arthur (Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins), Jill Valentine (Resident Evil) and more.  However, these are not just cosmetic outfits, as they’ll also come equipped with their own unique powers and abilities associated with the characters who don their disguise.  If you own Dead Rising 4 on Xbox One, while much of the content featured in Franks Big Package is tied to the accompanying season pass, Xbox One owners will get Capcom Heroes via a free update.

In conclusion, while Dead Rising 4: Franks Big Package offers a lot of fun and content in one generous bundle (especially as you can now pick it up on PS4 for around £20-£25); the game is somewhat of a mixed bag of tricks.  On one hand, the campaign offers plenty of laughs, loads to explore and some decent DLC offerings, especially with the ultra ridiculous mini-golf game.  However, the series is still plagued with some fiddly controls, inventory system and clunky combat.  It’s a shame, because if these issues were ironed out, then Dead Rising 4 could quite easily be one of the best games of this generation.  If you go into this game with lowered expectations, there is a lot of fun and value to be had when playing with Frank’s Big Package, even still, it does sadden me a little that once more, its shortcomings denies the series of the greatness it deserves with Dead Rising 4.  But hey, hopefully they’ll get it right with Dead Rising 5, hopefully.