The Dead Rising series has become a love it or hate it type of deal. Sure the promise of smashing zombies with a plethora of weapons is appealing to everyone, but when you toss in some of the quirks that come with the series such as the save system, you get a split audience. Case West is the latest extension of the lore through downloadable means, and to be honest the best yet. Sure it is twice the price of Case Zero, but the minor adjustments and ability to play as the classic zombie smasher Frank West make this bite-sized title more than worth its price tag.
The story of Case West assumes the A ending of Dead Rising 2. If you have not beat the game and care about spoilers do not read on. Basically Chuck’s daughter has been taken on the helicopter while our hero is left trapped with enemies closing in. Coming to Chuck’s rescue is none other than the famed protagonist from the original Dead Rising. Chuck and Frank decide to team up and head to the plant where the Zombrex is created. Here you will attempt to clear Chuck’s name while Frank attempts to get the story of his life. The backdrop is great and the dialogue between characters really does a good job of furthering the lore.
The story is more than a setup for great tales of zombie-killing. Case West is designed to be played as a co-op experience. In fact it is the only way you can play as Frank. In single-player you control Chuck Greene with the AI taking control of Frank. If you want to play as everyone’s favorite journalist you will need to join a co-op game over Xbox Live. This is both a good and bad thing. Those wanting to play as West will be forced to hop online, but on the plus side if you are taking it on by yourself, your AI partner cannot die and they tend to take care of themselves while still managing to keep enemies occupied.
This creates a more forgiving experience for the player as enemies and bosses are not always focused entirely on you. It is also worth noting that this game does not link with your existing DR2 save in any fashion. Instead you are dropped into the action at level 40 with the ability to max out at 50 while collecting new combo cards and earning PP. The weapon combining also makes a return with some brand new weapons. Frank’s camera also makes a return but with less impact than before. Photos are no longer rated and the only real reason to use it is to earn an Achievement. Needless to say it is a disappointing addition of a classic tool.
There are also survivors to save, and in one of the more appealing changes you no longer have to escort them back to safety. This makes hunting them down much more appealing for those looking to earn experience. Missions are still timed but the allotment for the three missions seems much more lenient than in the previous titles. There is also a ton of downtime between missions which gives you a chance to Achievement farm or simply enjoy smashing zombie heads; something previous games seemed stingy in giving you. Saving is still done in bathroom and you can restart your quest at any time carrying over your stats, but it isn’t as necessary as it was in past titles.
As far as presentation and visuals are concerned everything here is ripped from the library of Dead Rising. If you have played the other two titles you know what to expect. The colors are vibrant, the frame rate is relatively solid considering the amount of onscreen action and the environments are well-designed. The new locale lends itself well to the story and makes for some fun zombie smashing. The dialogue between Frank and Chuck is great and well done. The loading and saving seems to take an excessive amount of time if you have a lot on your hard drive, but outside of that everything runs as smooth as to be expected.
For a downloadable title this is one polished experience. Fans of Dead Rising 2 will definitely want to check it out, especially to get more story about the original zombie slayer Frank West. Extending the series with these smaller experiences is a great idea and this is well worth the 800 space bucks. The minor adjustments breath some new life into the title, but fans will not be disappointed. Hopefully we will continue to see more downloadable titles like this.
Review copy provided by publisher.