Dead Rising 2 Review

Posted on October 2, 2010 by

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Zombies are making a massive resurgence in pop culture at the moment, enough to pose a threat to all that sparkly emo Twilight crap, I hope. As a result, many games now include them in some form or other, often as bonus content, such as in Call of Duty: World at War, and (soon) Red Dead Redemption, and while there have been games which exclusively featured them (ie, Resident Evil, except that now it doesn’t actually have any zombies…) they are a fairly small subgenre* in the world of games compared to, say, world war 2 shooters, which are ten a penny. Or Space Marine shooters. Ugh.

*A subgenre apparently owned almost entirely by Capcom…

So Dead Rising came along and was, despite being, in premise, almost entirely unoriginal (Let’s face it, it was just Dawn of The Dead plus Capcom’s… unique characters and dialogue) not because it featured zombies, but because of it’s approach to them. Dead Rising treated zombies like an amusing distraction. Like drunken, children, shuffling about and basically just waiting for you to come along and mercilessly slaughter them in the most embarrassing and demeaning ways possible. And then you photographed them. It got a reputation for being everything gamers could want- easy to play, difficult to master, crazy awesome fun and infuriatingly difficult. It wasn’t perfect (Console exclusive, crappy save system, Capcom’s trademark appalling dialogue), but it was fun and colourful, attributes in short supply in modern games.

Now we have a Sequel (a proper one, too, not a Wii remake) and, joy of joys, it’s multi-platform. Now if only they’d release Fable 3 on the PS3… Now lets get one thing straight, this game, most definitely has zombies. “How many zombies does it have?” you may ask in a fervour. Thousands. On screen. At once. For reference, Dead Rising could chug out a respectable 800 zombies at once, which, if memory serves, would constitute the entire population of Liberty City…

There’s something about the idea, cramming thousands of zombies on screen so that they can be creatively brutalised by run of the mill bits and bobs is one of the coolest video game ideas ever. This time around, instead of FRANK WEST: ACTION JOURNALIST, you play as CHUCK GREENE: SINGLE DAD. Okay, that’s not all he is, but it is introduced and re-inforced to be one of his driving characteristics. Many of his other abilities/talents tend to be informed, and thus up to the players discretion (ie, slaughtering thousands of the undead).

Chuck was once a motocross racer until the zombie outbreak from the first game spread, and his wife was killed in front of their daughter. His daughter, Katy, was bitten. She now requires a daily dose of Zombrex in order to stave off becoming  walking corpse. Did we mention that Zombrex is exorbitantly expensive? Forcing her loving father to do insane things like go onto the gameshow Terror is Reality, where contestant kill captured zombies for prize money (All for a cure that, if for some reason, cannot be administered between 7 and 8am every. single. day, will become completely useless) in order to get get it for her. At least you don’t have her following you around for the entire game, although I would have been tempted to just use her as crunchy zombie bait because, as a player, I have zero emotional investment in Chuck’s darling little girl. Or at least, I didn’t, until I spent day after day slaughtering my way through zombie hoards to get her that poxy chuffing Zombrex, but even then only to the extent of “If she dies now, I am going to be pissed“.

It’s after one of his performances on the show where a mini-uprising takes place, littering Fortune City (Las Vegas) with the undead. And it’s not long before Chuck is framed for it. He has 3 days to clear his name before the military comes swooping in to save the day like the big damn heroes they are.

However, on your first play through, all you should be doing is seeking out Katy’s Zombrex to keep things going, and ignore every single other thing. Just kill time, and zombies, and level up, because you do not have a hope in hell of beating the story on your first try.To help with this, when Chuck dies from being nommed to death, the game always presents you with two options- 1) to restart from your last save, losing all your unsaved progress (of which there will be a lot, because save points are few and far between) or 2) restart the story with all of your acquired experience and skills and money. Basically, the game never ends, allowing you infinite time to turn Chuck from a formidable zombie killer into God’s own personal son of a bitch zombie killing machine.

So, besides the hugely increased zombie horde, what’s new? Not a lot, to be honest. The setting, story, combat and general mechanics of things are pretty much the same. Every day, Chuck goes out into the mall through an air duct, while a woman in the security booth radios missions to him, such as slaying the psychopaths (Human opponents who’ve gone bonkers, and are almost impossible to defeat on your first run through due to their sheer hardness). If this all sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve played the first game. However, there are no more photography missions, and there weapons system has been upgraded beautifully, and the game map (Now a collection casinos and malls and stuff instead of just one mall) is a bit bigger.

Where before you could pick up whatever was lying around and use it to beat the poor undead to, well, re-death, you can now grab some duct tape and use multiple items to create combo weapons. Like taping knives onto boxing gloves to act like wolverine, or combining precious gems with an ordinary torch to make a laser sword. This allows for some serious, Macguyver style creativity, and since these weapons last longer, are more powerful, and reward you with more points than normal objects, there’s a real encouragement to get crafty, figure out all the combinations and slay your way through the hoard like a hot knife through rotted brains.

Character customisation returns as well, allowing you to dress chuck up in anything. Including children’s clothes. And women’s clothes. I myself prefer a Tux, black and white all stars and a Trilby hat, because, well, I’m me, and I like to see an expy of myself brutally murdering the undead as much as anyone else. Perhaps a little bit more.

There’s multiplayer here, too. You can play the normal game co-op, which makes everything easier (and more fun) and you can also play competitively on Terror is Reality mode, competing with other players for in-game cash rewards that transfer to Chuck. These mostly involve some variations of killing zombies , and put you in mind of a much more grisly version of Gladiators.

If you want the basic run down, here it is. This game is fun. Pure, unadulterated fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all, which is a good thing, because while that approach works for GTA, where zombies are involved, it’s best to just go nuts and kill everything in sight. With a ride on lawnmower. Or better yet, a motorcycle with chainsaws duct taped to it.

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Posted in: Games