Back in 2006, Dead Rising revolutionized the way we killed zombies. Love it or hate it, it was a trend starter. Now, in 2010, in a sea of zombie infested games, Dead Rising 2 has come along and changed the method of ending a zombie’s life once again.
You play as Chuck Greene, an ex-motocross champion, and devoted father to a little girl who just so happens to be infected with the zombie bug. To combat this effect, he must inject her with a medicine every 24 hours called Zombrex. It doesn’t cure the turning, only prevents it as long as you keep injecting yourself every 24 hours. Chuck enters a zombie killing, pay-per-view reality show located in Fortune City, Nevada in order to get money to keep paying for the expensive medicine. After the show, the zombies get loose and begin to take over the city. Now it’s up to Chuck to find survivors, defeat psychopaths, and find Zombrex until help arrives.
Dead Rising 2 obviously has to be compared to the first installment of the series. There’s no way of going around it. The thing about the first Dead Rising was that it wasn’t a perfect game. Not by a long shot. Still, the game was a blast to play. The sequel is no exception.
The game features a constantly moving time frame that spans over 3 days. During that time, you must rescue people, solve cases revolving around the outbreak, and of course, kill a lot of zombies. The game boasts an enormous amount of zombies on screen at one time. So navigating through the hoard can become a little tricky. Luckily, good old Chuck is quite the handyman. Chuck has the ability to create unique weapons by combining items together. When I say there are a lot of things you can create from everyday items, I mean there are a ton.
Using power weapons you created will earn you extra PP(Prestige Points) for leveling up. Leveling up will don you with better abilities, faster speed, an increase in attack power, more health bars, and more inventory slots. One of the really nice touches are the combo cards and scratch cards. When you create items, you will gain a scratch card. These tell you how much PP you will gain by using them and also what “ingredients” you will need to create that weapon again. Combo cards are the PP big bonuses. These will make you gain 2X the amount of PP using a certain weapon. You can get combo cards from saving survivors, defeating psychopaths, and accomplishing certain level milestones.
Much like in the first game, you can also dress up Chuck into pretty much anything you can imagine from a businessman’s suit to his whitey tighties and a Servbot helmet. All can be found in the multiple stores around Fortune City. The combinations are as endless as they are ridiculous.
The game breaks down into cases, much like the first game, where you have to complete a certain objective or be at a certain place by a certain time. Time management is of the utmost importance in Dead Rising 2. You may have to skip saving a person in order to make it to a place on time for the story to continue. There’s many times in the game where you feel like you’re being artificially rushed to complete an objective. At times, this can become frustrating.
While rescuing survivors, you must escort them back to the safe house. This can become quite a challenge to the player due to the person being located clear across the map. The AI is not as horrible as it was in the first game, but still you will find yourself fighting with the AI to get them to do what you want. There are times you have to carry people and, to be honest; this is where the escorts are easy. Of course, you can give followers weapons to protect themselves, but sometimes that doesn’t even help. You’ll end up hitting the “Follow me!” button just to keep them moving in your direction. They are improved, but still a hassle more times than not.
One of the biggest complaints with the first game was the save system and lack of checkpoints. Well, the problems are still there, but are eased up a little. You now can have multiple save slots that will aid you in progressing the game. So I say this: save as often as you can at restrooms. I can’t stress that enough. The game was built around restarting the game multiple times while carrying over your level, money, skills, and combo cards. I restarted twice during my play through: once because I wanted to, and once because I died during a boss fight and lost about two hours of play. Yes, this will happen if you are not careful.
This brings me to my next complaint: the psychopath fights. Dead Rising 1 was known for its insanely difficult boss fights. Dead Rising 2 has those in abundance. The only thing different I found with the fights here was you can run away from most of them. Granted, they will still be there when you return to the area, but it gives you a little bit of breathing room to get healed up and stocked up on food. I honestly can say I had to exploit the game in order to win some of those fights. For instance, I had to get a boss stuck in a pathway so I could even hit him. Its things like this that makes the game frustrating. Most of the bosses are too over powered and have abilities that will bring you down in health ridiculously fast. You feel almost helpless during some of them.
I have to mention that I played both the PS3 version and the Xbox 360 version. I played predominantly on the PS3. Both played exactly the same, but I did notice that the PS3 version was in a lower resolution and had a lower frame-rate, but still, both versions ran smooth as butter.
The game features online multiplayer both through jump-in-jump-out co-op through the story mode, and in a small mini-game compilation called Terror is Reality. The co-op is nice, but feels a little tacked on. When you’re in co-op mode, there are two Chucks. If you join someone’s game you will still gain PP and money that you can transfer over to your own game. The Terror is Reality is a versus mode of sorts where you are on the reality game show that Chuck was on at the beginning of the story. Here, there are a number of quick games where you and three other contestants play games featuring brutal zombie killing for points. Whoever has the most points after 4 games, wins. Each player gains prize money that you can also transfer over to your story game. The games range from sniping zombies for points to driving a chainsaw equipped dirt bike into hoards of zombies. It’s actually a really nice way to earn money and a fun way at that. Despite the cheesiness, the multiplayer in both co-op and versus mode is still really fun to play.
All in all, I’d still have to say Dead Rising 2 is a great sequel to a very unique and entertaining series. Yes, it does have its faults, and yes, they can become controller throwing frustrating, but still it has so much charm, that I can honestly look past its flaws. You have to play the game the way it wants to be played, not the way you want to play it. That may scare some people away, but I don’t think that it should. You will still have a blast with a lot of the great things that the game has going for it. The weapon creation and customization system will really get you addicted if you let it. Then again, there are players out there that will make a spiked bat at the entrance and just use it. There’s a lot of player interaction and exploration that is needed to enjoy this game. It’s a very ambitious title that I still think needs the credit it deserves.
Review copy provided by publisher.