Frank Rising takes an intriguing premise and squanders it, delivering an chunk of downloadable content that is frankly disappointing.
Frank Rising left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and not just because of its protagonist’s propensity for shoving zombie guts into his decaying maw. As been rumoured since it was first announced, this piece of downloadable content contains Dead Rising 4‘s timed mode and “True” ending, which have been present, for free, in all previous Dead Rising 4 games. It’s debatable as to whether the content was deliberately left out in order to sell season passes or, as I suspect, it was removed to allow the game to be released earlier. Either way, having played Frank Rising, I feel thoroughly short-changed.
Not that I started out that feeling that way mind, being genuinely intrigued by Frank Rising’s premise. Following on from the end of Dead Rising 4, protagonist Frank West has been bitten and transformed into a flesh-hungry zombie. Frank Rising’s first few minutes are glorious, gruesome mayhem as you run with the horde, devouring any humans who have the misfortune to cross your path. As a ghoul, Frank’s lost the ability to drive cars or wield weapons – a staple of the main game, but has gained a range of gruesome yet effective attacks.
You can leap atop your hapless prey, scream to knock down your foes and even vomit acid bile into enemies faces. So, the living dead no longer my foes, I took a macabre delight in cramming my face with virtual viscera, relishing the prospect of Frank Rising continuing to turn Dead Rising’s now familiar gameplay on its head. But once you get past this brief opening sequence, Frank Rising starts to flatline, leaving you with an experience that’s as brainless as its shuffling antagonists.
The best thing you can say about this post-game add-on is that Frank’s zombies abilities are, at least, faintly amusing to employ. But, outside of Frank Rising’s opening, the zombies once again become your enemies, despite your own undead status. Bizarrely, you can also feast upon them to gain health, despite the fact that they’re most definitely spoiled meat. So once again, you’re hacking and slashing your way through the living dead which, without access to vehicles or weapons, becomes a tedious grind.
The human characters that you do encounter are copied and pasted from the main game and are either the hostile survivors or the evil private military company, both of whom had no problem attacking living Frank. And even though Frank regains his faculties, he never once exhibits any remorse or associated psychological trauma, cracking wise mere moments after devouring human flesh. I wasn’t expecting a treatise on morality but failing to address, even fleetingly, the implications of Frank’s actions is a real cop-out.
Frank Rising, in fact, fails to capitalise on any of its potential. There’s very little story to speak of, with only two cut-scenes bookending the DLC. Curing Frank of his current condition involves roaming across the city, completing a series of dull fetch quests. Even the time limit that Frank Rising imposes upon you fails to lend the affair any real sense of pace. If anything it becomes a source of frustration since, in the absence of save points, failing means you have to go through the whole hour-long rigmarole again.
The total absence of any new enemies or locations is the final nail in Frank Rising’s coffin. Essentially, you’re forking out £7.99 for a glorified side-mission and for the privilege of seeing the “true” ending to a game you’ve already paid for. I’m amazed that Capcom not only have the gall to charge for this but have made it the key fixture of their season pass. A dull, cynical, money-grabbing mess, Frank Rising deserves to be buried six feet under.