Dead Rising may not really be able to hit the same level of social commentary as George Romero, but given the sense of humor that’s driven the series from the very beginning — these are games where you rampage around on a lawnmower with flamethrowers attached to it — you might also say it was never a huge priority. In any case, that hasn’t stopped Dead Rising 4, out this week, from taking a more pointed stab at an American consumerist tradition: Christmas, and Black Friday in particular.

Dead Rising’s always been about killing as many thousands of undead as possible, with the added bonus this time around of using Christmas-y weapons like candy cane projectiles. In case you need more, though, here’s a primer with all the basics surrounding this Xbox One holiday horror comedy.

There’s No Timer

Longtime fans of know the pain of Dead Rising’s timers all too well. While the series touts itself as the ultimate open-world-ish arcade zombie killing experience, replete with countless numbers of grounded and ridiculous items (from power tools to teddy bears) with which to bludgeon swaths of enemies, every mainline game has been saddled with artificial timers that have kept players from simply going nuts for as long as they might want to.

While not every game’s time system was that bad — Dead Rising 3’s bomb that would end the game after a certain number of days was more generous than the fairly merciless pace of the first two games — 4 does away with it completely. If you like marauding through waves of zombies with insane DIY-crafted weapons, doing side quests or finding secrets — all of which were hampered to one degree or another in previous entries, this might be just what you’re looking for.

You Can Wear Stupid Holiday Costumes

Like its array of comedic weapons, Dead Rising has always made it a point to let players dress up in any number of silly costumes to enjoy while mowing down the dead. Given Dead Rising 4’s holiday-specific conceit, Capcom Vancouver has added a number of unlikely threads for photojournalist Frank West to wear, so if you want to dress up like an elf, Santa, or a reindeer, or a knight, a cowboy, a girl scout, and countless others, go right ahead. Just be warned that whatever costume you choose will be soaked with blood in minutes.

There Really Are Thousands of Zombies on the Screen

Like any good video game trying to depict a massive conflict (See: Most war shooters, Dynasty Warriors), developers have always striven to get as many realistic bodies interacting onscreen at once — with varying degrees of success. Dead Rising is one of the most notable since a zombie outbreak usually requires a large number of corpses in one area, and as tech has improved, things have only gotten better.

What does that mean? There are often thousands of undead being rendered on-screen, more than any other game in the series. While how you feel about the constant brawling a scenario like that entails may vary, at the very least it’s a mean technical feat, even if it might have been the reason co-op has been relegated to its own mode rather than being drop-in during the campaign.

It’s Full of Capcom

Capcom has been stuffing easter eggs from other games in Dead Rising for years — wearables like Mega Man Legend Servbot helmets, a full-blown Mega Man X costume, references to Resident Evil, Ghouls and Ghosts and others. This time around, Capcom has showed off both an Akuma gi and an electrocuting Blanka costume (among other nods to Street Fighter) and there’s doubtless plenty more, though probably none will ever be as good as Jill’s Sandwiches.

Still, even if the game can’t be all that self-aware with its commentary — there’s too much push and pull from the somewhat serious story versus the mayhem you’re doing while playing — at least it can be self-aware with its fan service.

Zombie Selfies

Capcom couldn’t let Metal Gear Online have all the fun. Frank is a photojournalist after all. There are also some Arkham-esque investigation features which require the camera to investigate, but selfies are more in keeping with the spirit of the series in general. It’s honestly a wonder it wasn’t added sooner.

Photos via Capcom

Steve Haske is a Seattle-based writer and sometimes a creator of stupid art. His work can be found on VICE and Playboy. Iain Glen is his Virgil.

What's Next