Bev Chen
04 Oct, 2010

Dead Rising 2 Review

360 Review | Bloody good fun.
If there’s one thing that popular culture will probably never give up on, it’s zombies. There are countless movies, literature, songs and even board games dedicated to the undead. Of course, there are numerous zombie video games. Then there’s the Dead Rising series. Heavily inspired by the films of zombie master George A. Romero, the first game put players in control of Frank West, a photojournalist who finds himself trapped in a shopping mall in the middle of a zombie outbreak.

Set three years after the Xbox Live Arcade prequel, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, Dead Rising 2 sees protagonist Chuck Greene and his daughter Katey in Fortune City. Chuck takes part in Terror is Reality, a zombie-slaying game show, in order to raise money to buy his daughter Katey medicine, but is soon framed for a terrorist attack in which thousands of zombies are let loose throughout the city. Chuck must clear his name before the military arrives, as well as find Zombrex for Katey to prevent her from turning into a zombie.

This is Chuck Greene. He's ridden bikes, you know.

This is Chuck Greene. He's ridden bikes, you know.
This story gives a framework to the main missions that take place at certain hours of the day. Once active, players have a set amount of time to complete them. If you run out of time, the opportunity is gone (at least until your next playthrough). The same goes for the dozens of side missions on offer and there is no way you will have enough time to complete all of them. It is entirely possible to disregard these missions (even giving Katey Zombrex), and the fact that Dead Rising 2 is a sandbox game with a huge map and loads of exploration just adds to the temptation.

While most recent zombie games fall squarely into the shooter genre, the Dead Rising series distances itself from that, placing an emphasis on melee gameplay. There are opportunities to use firearms, but you will find that they are uncommon and, like the first game, still a bit unwieldy. Shooting controls are a vast improvement from the Dead Rising, but they don’t feel as tight as they should be, especially if you are being crowded by zombies or being barrelled down by a Psycho. Melee combat on the other hand, is smooth and responsive and each weapon feels appropriately weighted for its use. However, there is a good chance that you will get bored with most of the objects scattered around Fortune City, and this is where Dead Rising 2’s newest gameplay addition comes in.

By combining items (marked with a spanner tool), you can now create more powerful weapons, from the mundane Molotov cocktails to the outrageously illogical electric rake. There are a limited number of combination weapons you can cobble together though, and to help you keep track of the combinations you have found, the game gives you ‘Combo Cards’ and ‘Scratch Cards’. Combo Cards give you bonus experience (known as ‘Prestige Points’), and are rewarded when you gain a level or when Chuck sees something inspiring. Scratch Cards are given when you stumble upon a winning combination, but do not have the perks of the Combo Card (at least not until you earn them).

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Combining items aside, there haven’t been many additions to Dead Rising 2 since the first game, although most of the existing elements have been substantially improved. The controversial saving system that hindered the first game is now gone, with players having three save slots to use to their hearts’ desires. Unfortunately however, the element of the game most likely to annoy players are the loading times. Maybe we’re just impatient, but the inclusion of loading screens in between almost every cutscene and every area is jarring to the experience when really, we just want to get stuck into killing zombies. There are also a few invisible loading points which, while forgivable by themselves, can become irritating if you are escorting survivors only to realise that you left them to get eaten alive in another area.

Side missions are once again mainly comprise of rescuing survivors, who now have decent AI and can actually defend themselves well if need be. Other times you will be investigating sources of Zombrex, or fighting the Psychopaths, the series’ version of optional boss battles. The first game had its fair share of nutjobs (including a chainsaw-juggling clown) and Dead Rising 2 does not disappoint where its characters are concerned. As with the main missions, completing these sidequests earn Chuck a healthy dose of PP, allowing him to level up his abilities, inventory space and health. And of course, you can still play dress-up. If you ever wanted to see a man in a dress and wellingtons with a Servbot head, Dead Rising 2 is your chance.

We’re gonna do our best to exterminate the zombies, Miss Tron!

We’re gonna do our best to exterminate the zombies, Miss Tron!
As if Dead Rising 2’s sandbox gameplay wasn’t enough to keep players entertained for a long time coming, the game also has two multiplayer modes. The first is Terror is Reality, an extension of the game show Chuck takes part in at the beginning of the game. In a manner reminiscent of MadWorld, Terror is Reality pits up to four players against each other and requires you to kill zombies in a variety of darkly humorous ways for the most points. The prize money won in Terror is Reality can be used in story mode and you are likely to be rolling in it after a few rounds. The other multiplayer mode is an online only cooperative venture, which allows you to drop in to other people’s games and vice versa. You and your fellow clone progress through the story mode (on the host’s side of things), but all PP, money and combo cards you collect are saved over to yours. In the multiplayer games that we played, everything ran effortlessly and there were very little connection problems.

Dead Rising 2 is a very good looking game. For a title that can supposedly handle up to 7000 zombies on the screen at once, it is surprisingly lag free. The only graphical hiccups you are likely to have are when certain parts of Chuck’s outfits overlap, but you’ll probably be so busy laughing at his appearance that you won’t care anyway. Audio-wise, the game is punctuated with zombies moaning so you are unlikely to really notice any background music. Most of the time when you do, they are more like elevator tunes solely in place to provide stores with flavour, and juxtapose nicely with the carnage happening around you. The voice acting is also well done and you can tell the voice actors for the Psychopaths are having fun being dramatic and over-the-top.

Dead Rising 2 may not be the shining light from the heavens that Capcom fans were waiting for, but there is no doubt that it will do well, both in a measure of sales and critical success. And why shouldn’t it? Its dark humour and visceral splatter simply add to the charm of the whole package, and the whole thing is so fun and outrageous that it’s impossible not to love it.
The Score
If you’re looking for a bloody good time, look no further – Dead Rising 2 will be the answer to your desires for a long time. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Dead Rising 2 Content

Dead Rising 2: Case West arriving later this month
01 Dec, 2010 Frank West returns.
Dead Rising 2: Case West trailer
15 Sep, 2010 No Frank, you are the zombies.
Dead Rising 2: Case West announced
15 Sep, 2010 FRAAAANK!
1 Comment
3 years ago
Very good review. Pretty much agree with everything it says. The only thing I dislike about this game is the non-zombie character models. They seem a bit off somehow.
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  24/9/2010 (Confirmed)
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