Dead Rising 2

[OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER]: Right off the bat here, I want to say that this is my first of a two-part review for Dead Rising 2. I’m going to be giving to scores, for your interpretation. I’m doing this because I, on average, detest multiplayer in games. So, Dead Rising 2 has CO-OP and Multiplayer, and I won’t be touching those until I beat the main story (one more boss).

The first Dead Rising was really a mixed taste for me. One the one hand, it was a great zombie game, had hundreds of zombies on screen at a time for me to kill, and was clever with its story, bosses and usage of weapons (other than firearms). But then there was the fact I’d just gotten my 360 and I couldn’t read the damn text, the difficulty was rather steep for me, and save points were at times few and far between.

Dead Rising 2 was announced, many assumed there would be a sequel to the surprise hit of the first game, on the ninth of February 2009 – and thank god they announced it within a year of release because I was actually pretty excited. 2009 had a bit of zombie fever going on, and I couldn’t wait to be choppin’ zombies again as Frank West. . .yeah. Not so much; I slowly began to learn about how we had a new hero named Chuck Greene, father of an infected child, and a regular handyman who didn’t have a camera and has never covered a war. Wasn’t too thrilled.

So, it was announced the game would be on PS3, the previous installment had a very cut-down version ported to the Wii, but would still retain some exclusivity to the Xbox 360 in the form of DLC packs. The first was ‘Dead Rising 2: Case Zero’, which sold me on reserving the ‘Zombrex’ edition of the game.

Here are my impressions of the single player story.

Fortune City. This city is pretty much the new Vegas (see what I did there?), and is the home to the new season of TIR. While the TIR stunt doesn’t last all that long, as you can assume from the cover of the game, you will be exploring the surrounding area of the Arena where the game starts. Fortune City is a very fun sandbox to play in, completely replacing the Willamette Mall from the first game. There’s strips lined with Casinos and stores that have been overrun. There are a few small malls even, and plenty to do. While killing zombies will likely be the main attraction, sometimes just exploring is its own reward, yielding weapons for creative customization, or just solving the ‘Cases’ that make up the game’s story.

The story. Chuck’s story is a much more emotional one than that of our favorite journalist. Two years have passed since the Las Vegas outbreak and Still Creek Incident. His daughter is still infected, daily doses of Zombrex keeping her human, and still believes her father is the hero that will always be there for her. While Case Zero made me play the world’s smallest violin for Chuck a few times, I did, over the course of 2, become sympathetic with him. There’s one point in the game where a character told Chuck to save people even though he’d much rather stay close to his daughter, and he sighs, frowning and cutting into their sentence saying ‘It never ends’. Chuck is on the run from the law and doesn’t know why – needing to do what he can to uncover the truth behind the Fortune City outbreak with a 72 hour countdown to Military intervention. While popular commentaries are laced within, Chuck’s struggle is the focus of the story, and I’m comfortable with that.

Customization. Chuck’s no photographer – he’s a handyman. Chuck can duct tape anything, and knows his way around a zombie or two. Dead Rising 2 carries the humor of the series forward with some inane but hilariously awesome weapons for Chuck to use. My particular favorites are a Sledgehammer taped with a Fire Axe (The ‘Defiler’ if I recall) and a Shotgun with a Pitchfork bayonet (Boomstick). Chuck is also a pretty good shot, with fire-arms being much better to control. While you still have to carry different guns instead of just picking up ammo, guns are actually fun to use now. And you’ll need them.

Psychopaths. Dead Rising 1 had a good cast of nutballs for Frank to dispatch and fans of those crazy survivors will not be disappointed. The Psychopaths occasionally are more referential to the previous game than I’d like, but most are new and improved, making for some real tense fights (read: frustrating). My favorite was against a very determined employee who went postal, and a close second was a fight with a child’s mascot who was voiced by Brad Swaile (Light Yagami in Death Note, Nightcrawler in X-men Evolutions, Gohan in Dragonball Z). While this is more of a personal thing, I really liked debating with friends whether or not some were all that Psycho, or just normal people who’d just had a rough time.

Standard Definition support. I can read. Thank you, so, so much Capcom.

No cover. Why the hell can’t I crouch or take cover? I mean, I can understand this not being a cover shooter, but damnit, some of the Psychopaths are just total powerhouses and require long-range weapons – but carry their own. Chuck can’t crouch or do much to avoid bullets. While this makes for some frenetic fights, it can really make things unfair, especially with a certain Desert Eagle packing boss.

Conspiracy Weary. The story, while good, and being quite realistic (for what it is) starts to lean a bit towards the road the Resident Evil story took. While it’s waaaaay better in Dead Rising 2, and makes a lick of sense, I am legitimately afraid this gem might try to draw inspiration from a series that I, and a good many, lost faith in just after ‘Five’ released (and that’s ignoring the American films).

Dialogue. It wouldn’t be a great Zombie tale without some quirky commentary (humanity’s the real monster, businessmen gonna business, etc.) but I was a little sad to realize that only a few characters get a particular amount of depth, and others are just faces until specific points in the game. I was hoping that with this being a Zombie-aware world now, the humans would have more to say about their overall situation or something. It isn’t really a big deal, but it was a bit of a letdown for me not to be able to talk to the many survivors I’d brought to the Safe House.

The single player aspect of Dead Rising 2 has a method to its madness, and it’s a formula that works. The story is surprisingly good, and the game play is good enough to stick with (again, I can use a gun and smile instead of looking for another bat). I totally recommend the game. When it comes to pricing, the standard edition should satisfy anyone, but I did enjoy the fun I had with my Zombrex Edition. I haven’t looked through all of the extra content yet, and haven’t seen much of the other versions, but I’ll be sure to give them some mention in my second part of this review. What I can say though, is that I whole-heartedly recommend Dead Rising 2 and its way worth the sixty-whatever bucks.

Dead Rising 2 was made by Blue Castle Games and Capcom.
It is available on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, with the exception of Case Zero and Case West being exclusive to XBLA.
Rating: 5/5
SMS Rating: 3/5


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