Also available on: PS3, PC
Developer: Blue Castle
Genre: Survival Horror
Having waited four long years for another slice of zombie-bashing action, Capcom recently treated eager gamers to glorified demo Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, which successfully reignited our love for laying waste to the undead. However, while Case Zero was merely the starter, Dead Rising 2 is the main course and developer Blue Castle serves up a delicious dose of blood-soaked carnage, despite changing very little from the original.
The game takes place five years after Frank West's adventure in the Willamette shopping mall and three years after the prequel Case Zero. It continues to follow former motocross star Chuck Green and his infected daughter Katey, both of whom now reside in Fortune City - a cheap knock-off of Las Vegas. Chuck must do whatever he can to earn enough money to purchase his daughter's Zombrex medicine, which staves off the zombification process by 24 hours. The game begins with Chuck taking part in TV show 'Terror Is Reality' - a gory gameshow which sees players competing to take out the most zombies on a chainsaw-laden motorbike. Unfortunately, right after picking up his prize money, somebody sets all of the zombies loose onto the streets of Fortune City and frames Chuck for it. Chuck has 72 hours to clear his name before the military arrives and puts him in jail.
It will come as no surprise to anybody who has played Case Zero that the structure of the game remains identical to the original. With the aid of his trusty watch and walkie-talkie, Chuck must reach certain destinations at specific times. The clock-based missions include returning to the safe house every 24 hours to give Katey her Zombrex, reaching and rescuing survivors, confronting the delightfully disturbing psychopaths and doing whatever he needs to do in order to further the story. If time runs out on any of the main storyline missions the game continues, but don't expect a happy ending when the military finally arrives. Even if players don't manage to fulfil the storyline missions there is still plenty to do in Dead Rising 2, but in order to get the most out of the game, completing the story is highly recommended and players can always start again with their levels and stats intact.
Unfortunately, some of the original game's flaws also make a return, most notably the load times. Every time Chuck makes his way to a new area, a lengthy load screen appears as well as before and after a cut-scene. Installing the game onto the hard drive doesn’t do much to resolve the issue, so it does become a real annoyance after a while. The game also recycles the movement and animations of the lead character, meaning that controlling Chuck isn't as fluid as it should be four years on from the original. This makes fighting psychopaths, in particular, quite a task, still with the unlockable dodge move. Chuck isn't able to gracefully duck and dive away from attacks and is likely to take a fair bit of damage even if players are trying to be defensive.
On the plus side, save points are much more frequent in the sequel and every area has somewhere for the game to be saved, plus there's the option to chart your progress after completing each storyline chapter. It's still highly frustrating when Chuck dies and has to restart from the last save point, especially if players have achieved a lot since last visiting the restroom, but the developers can hardly be blamed for this (although the option to save anywhere at any time would have been more welcome).
The increase in save points is a logical addition considering the game's location and size. Fortune City features shopping malls, three big casinos, an arena, a strip joint, a wedding chapel and a number of other areas, both indoors and out – so it stands to reason that there would be a restroom in each of these areas. Although the Willamette shopping mall was a more iconic setting due to its association with the movie Dawn Of The Dead, Fortune City is a far more interesting playground. There is so much more to see and do in this bright and colourful Vegas clone and it houses even more zombies than the original. Every area is absolutely choc-full of the undead, so it never feels truly safe until Chuck gets back to base, which makes for some tense gaming.
Of course, the best thing about Dead Rising is the freedom it gives you to deal with the undead and this is where Dead Rising 2 scores the most points thanks to the excellent weapon combination system. Certain items with a wrench symbol above them can be combined together resulting in new and improved super-weapons. Case Zero features nine of these combo weapons, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Dead Rising 2 contains roughly 50 DIY weapons such as Wolverine-esque knife gloves, machine gun-toting soft toys and flame-spewing super soakers. Without doubt this is the highlight of the game and makes the whole experience more fun than even a few lengthy load screens can spoil.
In fact, the sense of fun is evident throughout the entirety of the Dead Rising 2 experience. Even some of the more grave and straight-laced cut-scenes can cause fits of laughter if Chuck is seen wearing a pair of long-johns or a pretty little dress. The psychopaths - as creepy as they are - can also leave you giggling when coming at you with a chainsaw or flamethrower, especially when they're complaining about their virginity remaining intact or spouting stereotypical redneck nonsense about pansy liberals and America going soft. Chuck further has a myriad of one-liners at his disposal which are as funny as they are cheesy.
With all of the weaponry to discover, the multiple endings to the story and every one of the nooks and crannies of Fortune City to explore, Dead Rising 2 gives players plenty of bang for their buck. The game also features an online co-op mode, as well as a fairly entertaining online multiplayer version of 'Terror Is Reality'. With additional DLC expected such as the already announced Case West, this title will have a long and fruitful shelf-life. It may have its flaws and it's not for the squeamish, but Dead Rising 2 is smashing fun and a sequel worthy of your time and money.
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