Game Review: Dead Rising 2
Release: 24th September (Europe) 28th September (North American)
Genre: Hack and slash, zombies, brains
Developer: Blue Castle Games, Capcom
Available Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Players: 1, 1-4 online
ESRB Rating: M
I liked the first Dead Rising, from its fun ‘throw a coffee maker at the undead’ philosophy to its objectification of women. Although, we’ve all grown up now and belittled that all to a childish giggle. Heehee that laddy has big boobies! Dead Rising 2 takes the formula of the first game, squashes a few bugs and otherwise improves on the whole experience. It’s a true sequel that shines amongst the cannon fodder of the usual type – dull and ‘done before’ (I’m looking at you Kane and Lynch 2). Unfortunately, alike Depache Mode, they’re not very consistent (oh snap!), especially when it comes to design. Some giant glarring faults have been preserved like Walt Disney in cryogenic freezing (conspiracy!) but we’ll get into the nitty gitty in a sec.
Dead Rising 2 tells the tale of Chuck Greene, a guy who lands himself in Fortune City with a daughter who is infected. In other words, he has to keep finding drugs or she’ll get an appetite for brains. He’s basically a dealer, not a very good role model for kids, although this isn’t exactly a kid-friendly game. Soon enough, as usual, everything goes wrong and Chuck is framed for a zombie outbreak in Fortune City. Now, he has to clear his name in three days or risk losing his daughter forever, or something, the story is not exactly a strong point of Dead Rising 2 but it’s not very intrusive on the whole experience. The way it’s told is really redundant given it’s done in both cut-scenes and in text-dialogue between characters. All of which are skippable, thank god.
The ‘throw a coffee maker at the undead’ philosophy is here in all of its decaffeinated bloody glory. There’s just a giant splash of fun here and hither whenever you throw anything at the brain-munchers. You can basically use everything from bows and arrows to handbags to giant novelty mugs. New to the game is ‘Combo Cards’ in which Chuck can combine various items to create a super weapon that gives extra PP per usage. Chuck unlocks these by looking around the environment, levelling up and randomly throwing stuff at a workbench. None of the items are dull and some of them are cleverly inventive, the design process behind these weapons must have been just a few guys, a couple of beers, a pen and a piece of paper. In other words, laughter ahoy.
What I love about Dead Rising 2 is that it feels more smoother. Everything handles like butter in that I can swish-swash my giant longsword at a zombie and he’ll cut in half, rather than just bits come off a la Dead Rising. The sequel doesn’t attempt to innovate, the big ‘plus’ nowadays for games, but does something that have good sequel does – expands. The objectification of women has been turned to eleven, there can be over hundreds of zombies to plow through all at once and there’s even multiplayer modes. From the time I’ve spent with both ‘Terror is Reality’ (competitive mode) and the co-op mode, this is going to be on my ‘Now Playing’ list for weeks to come.
There are some gripes, as I’ve hinted to, Dead Rising 2 still has an iffy save system about it. You have to slink over to a toilet and you can only have three save files at once. There’s also no sprint button, other than the juice you can mix, so the movement can appear very slowly. Some of the missions, which are all time-based, are ludicrous in that I know I won’t make it to the other half of the map in time to do them. That and… am I the only one who loved the photography mechanic in Dead Rising? It always seems like all I’m doing is killing zombies, or finding new ways to kill zombies or staring at polygon breasts. I’m not complaining at all, all of those areas have been amplified, but a part of me misses Mr West’s camera lens.
It’s hard not to punch a zombie in the face and then just not feel empty afterwards. There’s something to the rhythm that’s almost drug-like. You’re always wanting more and more PP, always pushing Chuck over the edge and hoping that the knife you’re using won’t wear out. There’s not much challenge in the game, and when there is, it’s over the bounds and frustrating. Take for instance a certain psychopath fight (the game’s boss fights) where a guy has a motorbike and Chuck has to use up three handguns and a powerful melee weapon. The game deviates from being very fun to being very frustrating to being downright awesome. There’s a sense of hypnotic madness, a descent into Hannibal Lector’s mind if you will, when you lay your hands on a paddlesaw with two chainsaws on either end.
Nath’s final say: Dead Rising 2 kicks ass. It’s bang for buck and better than ever. The save system is still iffy and the game can suffer from feeling slightly ’empty’. It has some issues with warring progression but in fairness, there are way more good points than bad. I’m several hours in and I’ve barely scratched the surface. This is an RPG trapped inside of a game about people who chew on brains. It’s fun, fresh and I’ll recommend that you buy this one, not rent it, as you’ll be playing this for weeks on end. Are you wondering why I’ve coloured all of the info/structure pink? Pink is for brains, you silly! Brains are apparently full of cholesterol, so really, zombies are dangerously unhealthy. Maybe throw a treadmill at one of them next time?