• Review: Dead Rising 2

    Posted by Mike Yawney on October 3rd, 2010 View Comments

    Grab your 2 x 4, grab your chainsaw, the zombies are back! Capcom has resurrected the popular Dead Rising franchise giving it a fresh coat of paint. Your goal? Survive and thrive in a Las Vegas-style resort filled with thousands of zombies. Almost anything can be used as a weapon! And if you put your mind to it you’ll be able to create some mind twisting contraptions in order to take out the zombie horde. All the fun of the first Dead Rising is here, but did Capcom fix many of the flaws which plagued the first title? Read on to find out.

    The Story

    It’s the ultimate reality game show. Terror is Reality pits humans versus zombies in an all out free for all. Contestants jump on their motorcycles and see just how many zombies they can take down to win fame and fortune. But when the show goes on the road to Fortune City something goes wrong. A bomb attached to the zombie holding cage is detonated unleashing thousands of undead onto the streets. The worst part is all fingers point towards you, Chuck Greene, the new protagonist. You not only gave to clear Chuck’s name, but get to the bottom of who is behind the outbreak before the military arrives. You have three days before the military shows up to airlift the survivors and put you behind bars for good.

    The Gameplay

    If you’ve played Dead Rising you know exactly what to expect in this sequel. You’ll have to venture out onto the streets of Fortune City to not only uncover the storyline, but complete tasks and rescue survivors. The watch is always running so the game will end in three days, regardless of how many survivors you save or how many tasks you complete.

    Part of the fun of the Dead Rising series is the fact that almost anything can be used as a weapon. Drills, 2 x 4s, signs, bats, you name it. Since Fortune City is filled with shopping malls and casinos you’ll have no problem finding items to arm yourself with. While the original weapon system was an absolute blast, Capcom has taken a new approach this time around. You can combine items to create some impressive arms. Baseball bats can be combined with nails to create the spiked bat, a power drill can be combined with a metal bucket to create the drill bucket, and a shotgun can be combined with a pitch fork to create the boomstick. New combos are revealed to the player through combo cards which are awarded as your character levels up. New combos can also be learned by looking at posters on the walls of the stores and casinos. There are dozens of possible combinations.

    As with the first game, rescuing survivors plays a key role on your survival. People are trapped across Fortune City and if you rescue them, you’ll get valuable Prestige Points (basically experience points) to upgrade your character, and possibly access to new items or shortcuts through the vast world. Survivors are much smarter in Dead Rising 2. In the first game they often got stuck behind chairs and walls leading to their demise. Now the survivors can not only navigate around obstacles, they have the brains to fend off zombies, allowing you to run towards the safehouse with them in tow.

    Capcom has also added a new twist on the gameplay. Your daughter has been bitten by a zombie and needs a special drug known as Zombrex every 24 hours or she will turn into a zombie. The only problem is Zombrex can be difficult to find. Survivors may be carrying vials of Zombrex, while single doses may be found in storage rooms or stores. It will be up to you to track it down to ensure the survival of your daughter.

    The constant search for Zombrex definitely adds some excitement to the game. Not only do you constantly have to worry about rescuing survivors before they die, the need for Zombrex is always on your mind creating tension as you decide which mission or survivors to focus on next.

    The Graphics and Music

    Dead Rising 2 definitely looks nicer than the first game in the franchise. The cut scenes look quite polished as does the gameplay. However there is one exception, and that’s the blood. While I love the fact that Chuck’s clothing gets soaked with blood as you kill zombies, the blood splatters are less than impressive. It just doesn’t look realistic.

    The music reminds me very much of the first Dead Rising. It’s simply background noise which your brain typically filters out. However it does serve as a warning sign when you enter an area where a boss is present. If you have low health or next to no weapons, the music can serve as a sign to back off and return when you’re fully geared up.

    The Downsides

    You’ll need to have patience while playing Dead Rising 2. The issue isn’t with the game’s difficulty. In fact it’s quite a bit easier than the previous game. The problem is the load times. They are long and frequent. While it’s understandable that large areas with thousands of zombies take time to load, the long load times while saving the game, or even at the game’s start screen make no sense. I’ve never played a game where I pressed the start button on the title screen and everything appears to freeze for about 10 seconds before the next menu pops up. At first I thought the game froze on me, but I realized this was “normal” after it happened over and over again.

    The Bottom Line

    Dead Rising 2 is a lot of fun to play. The new weapon system is a brilliant addition as it’s always exciting to see what you’ve created and how the zombies will react. And while I thought the constant hunt for Zombrex would prove to be taxing, it certainly added yet another element of anxiety and excitement which is rarely felt in other games.

    It’s clear Blue Castle Games took a long hard look at Dead Rising 1 and made improvements where they were needed. With such a high replay value (the ticking clock will prevent you from fully exploring Fortune City the first time around) the game is certainly worth picking up. If only those loads times weren’t so long and frequent!

    The Good

    Wicked weapon combos
    Fun story line
    much improved survivor AI
    Online co-op

    The Bad

    Long load times
    Poor blood animation

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