Dead Rising 2
Posted 2 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
Despite a favorable critical reception, the original Dead Rising ended up being a frustrating, zombie-killing blood fest. While the idea of a sequel never crossed my mind up until its official announcement in 2009, Capcom already had quite a bit to overcome from Day One. Obviously, the numerous complaints from the first game were still echoing in everyone’s minds, even though one has to at least give a little forgivness considering Dead Rising was a first gen title for the fledgling Xbox 360. Although gaming as a whole has evolved since 2006, a survival-horror title involving blood thirsty zombies will never grow old. If it’s well-made, of course.
Mostly known for their work on The BIGS and MLB Front Office Manager, Canadian development studio Blue Castle Games (now Capcom Vancouver) had the enormous task of keeping this interesting and promising franchise from becoming a necro-joke. Does Dead Rising 2 deserve a delicious and juicy brain on a silver plate or a shovel on the face? A little bit of both, if you ask me.
Five years following the mall incident in Willamette, the zombie plague has spread throughout the United States, sparking both political and social concerns. Dead Rising 2 sees former motocross champion Chuck Greene trying to make a living in Fortune City - a town that shares lots of similarities with our own Las Vegas - as competitor on the highly controversial reality show TIR (Terror Is Reality), where contestants kill zombies in exchange of glory and money. In the case of Green, his main motive for competing in such an atrocious show is directly tied to his desire to keep his infected daughter Katey from zombification. As explained in Case Zero, his little girl was bitten by her zombified mother in a previous outbreak and she needs the expensive and ultra-rare Zombrex shots every 24 hours (note: the Zombrex formula has been improved during the two and a half years between the events of Case Zero and DR2). As activist groups - CURE to be more precise - are gathering in Fortune City to protest against the zombie abuse, a mysterious explosion at the TIR facility lets the caged undead out. Obviously, an outbreak follows. Our main protagonist is being framed for the incident and has 72 hours to clear his name and escape Fortune City before the military shows up start the quarantine procedure.
At its core, Dead Rising 2 is an improved carbon-copy version of the original game. Players will still massacre zombies with different weapons, engage hardened psychopaths (cheap and hard to beat bastards they are), try out funny looking outfits, mix up magical drinks, save survivors and fight for their lives while uncovering the truth behind Chuck’s false accusation.
Just like the first undead adventure, Dead Rising 2 is a time-sensitive experience. Chuck needs to be in a certain area before the time expires along with completing the primary task in order to advance further into the story. Fail to do so and the main quest line will be terminated. Thankfully, the game will give you the choice to either resume from your last checkpoint and try it again or completely ignore the main story - with the exception of keeping your daughter safe from zombification - and change your focus to saving people or simply massacring the walking corpses, among other things. The military countdown will continue however and once your game is completed, you can restart a brand new story and bring your character progress with you. The collected money, accumulated Prestige Points, life bars, inventory space and attack power will all carry over.
In addition to the improved character progression, Dead Rising 2 also features a fun weapon customization system based on collectible cards. While the first game granted you the oppotunity to use different items as weapons, you can now combine some of them and create new ones as long as the selected item carries a wrench icon. Pick up a lead pipe along with some fireworks and you got yourself a nice homemade bazooka. I won’t list everything here, but there are over 40 weapon combinations to be discovered, some less interesting than others, but it certainly adds an extra coat of enjoyment to your ass-whooping sessions. Killing the undead with a paddle and a pair of chainsaws strapped to each end has never been so satisfying. Combo cards can be found throughout Fortune City or gained randomly when levelling up. These cards will increase the prestige point bonuses and add extra attacks to some weapons. By expanding the level progression, adding an addictive weapon builder system and bumping up the number of save slots from one to three (Yes! *handclaps*), restarting a new adventure with a powerful Chuck is far from being fastidious.
Staying in the realm of novelties, Dead Rising 2 also packs a multiplayer component, both cooperative and competitive. Two Chuck Green clones can team-up and tackle the story. Although this can lead to some of the most hilarious and engaging cooperative experiences presented so far, it also unearths a few disappointments. The inability to explore Fortune City separately condemns both players to stay close to each other at all times.
Mind you, this is more of a personal taste than a game flaw. Your experience may differ. Friends can also join your session at any time, but the story progress can only be saved by the host, leaving the invitee with only its experience and stats to keep. This actually tends to become less of a problem when both players have completed the main story arc and now going towards improving stats, unlock missing weapon cards and such. Beyond the co-op mode, the competitive mode is presented via the Terror Is Reality game show. You and three other players battle each other through four zombie-killing themed events. Points are compiled at the end of each event and whoever finishes first, wins. Points are then converted into money, which can be brought over to your single player save file. My time with TIR was alright but aside from the collecting easy money, there wasn’t a whole lot to enjoy simply because of the loose controls and the numerous disconnections from the online servers. It’s never too late to fix it by the way.
Considering the great number of enemies on screen at once, Dead Rising 2’s visuals don’t disappoint. Both the interior and exterior environments are highly detailed and nice to watch. Character models, from both the different protagonists and the disgusting brain-eaters, are solid but the visual rendition of Fortune City is what steals the show. Despite the few instances where the in-game engine stutters, the final result is more than convincing. Unfortunately, the impressive visual feats that Blue Castle Games managed pulled off comes with a price. There’s an excessive, excruciating and painful amount of loading times. Transitioning between areas or during cut-scenes (which happens often in the first 30 minutes of play) prompts a loading screen. It hinders the game’s tempo and becomes a serious annoyance.
I’m no designer and I don’t know what sacrifices Blue Castle Games would have needed to make in order to cut down the loading times, but one would imagine that open-world games wouldn’t be a Pandora’s Box these days.
In terms of audio, well, there’s no dialog aside from those in the cinematics and there’s rock music playing while battling psychopaths. The rest of the time, you’re treated with environmental sounds and zombie moans. The weapon sound-effects emanating from zombie kills are satisfying, especially with a broadsword or the aforementioned fireworks bazooka. Each crafted weapon has its own distinctive noise too. Voice acting is good but not great. Then again, you won’t care for it one way or another as long as there are zombies to kill.
There are two things that I was expecting to see changed or tweaked after playing Case Zero: Chuck can’t run nor aim properly. While I can deal with Chuck’s lack of athletic capacities, the loose aiming definitely needed extra attention. You will notice this more during the psychopath battles than while roaming the city, but it’s still a hindrance nonetheless. As I’ve mentioned earlier, these bosses are merciless and will make you scream. While these nitpicks aren’t as annoying as the loading times, they do adversely affect the magic.
Despite the complaints addressed in this review, my experience with Dead Rising 2 ended up being far more conclusive and enjoyable compared to the original game. It may not win tons of awards at the end of the year, but there’s enough here to warrant a purchase, especially if you’re into zombie games or simply craving an awesome action game. Dead Rising 2 is the one of the few examples of a developer/publisher gathering all the constructive (and destructive) criticism, understanding it and making it happen.
+ Multiple save slots, progress carries over to new games
+ Weapon creation system
+ Killing zombies is satisfying (as always)
+ Multiplayer adds something...
- Loose aiming, Chuck can’t run
- Excruciating loading times
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Release Date : 2010/09/28
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Capcom
Developer : Capcom Vancouver
Category : Survival Horror
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
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8.7 / 10