Dead Rising 2: Case Zero Review
It’s a disservice to Dead Rising 2: Case Zero to write it off as just a big, paid demo, even if that’s all the game appears to be at first glance. Luckily, however, Case Zero is a deeper experience than that, and is able to stand on its own – even if its legs are a bit wobbly.
Case Zero, in many ways, is a big demo, and that’s its biggest weakness. It’s marketed as a way to familiarize players with the new concepts in Dead Rising 2 – specifically, an economy system and a new weapon-combining system – and rewarding players with increased stats at the start of Dead Rising 2. But really, much of it just reminds us all how to play Dead Rising. That’s accomplished by assigning main character Chuck tasks that he has to complete by a certain time of day in the game. If you’ve done Dead Rising before, this is pretty much exactly a five-dollar version of it.
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (XBox360 [Reviewed])
Developer: Blue Castle Games
Release Date: August 31, 2010
When you start up Case Zero, Chuck and his daughter are just pulling into Still Creek, a town on the edge of a 50-mile-radius zombie military quarantine. Chuck wants to get daughter Katey away from the military, because they’ll take her away if they discover she’s been infected. Chuck is able to stave off Katey’s zombification by with Zombrex, a drug that needs to be administered every 12 hours.
You take over to go find Katey’s Zombrex. Still Creek has been overrun by a flood of zombies, who stand between you and the drug. We’re not complaining – there are zombies to kill. Hundreds of them.
The primary campaign of Case Zero basically puts you on a hunting mission for various items. First you need Zombrex. Then you need to repair a dirt bike so you can escape the town. After a while, survivors start to crop up on rooftops, stranded in bowling alleys, and generally just inches from zombie teeth – and they all could use your help.
It very nearly is all a rehash of Dead Rising – not bad, but not new. Case Zero does encourage you to try the combining weapons mechanic to add a new layer. There are nine combinations in all, and only certain items can be taped to other items to make new stuff. But the combos available are only a little impressive. Most are pretty simple, like a Molotov cocktail or a bat with nails in it. But a few are novel – like a construction hat with beer strapped to it that can be used to refill health on the go, or a propane tank IED, which after combining it with nails, can actually be stuck into wandering zombies and shot from a distance. In total, though, combos aren’t exciting enough to carry the whole of Case Zero.
But add all that old stuff and weapons mechanics to Case Zero’s slick set of achievements, and suddenly this demo transcends its borders to take on the value of the points it costs. To get the maximum experience and all the achievements, you’ll need to play through the roughly two-hour campaign multiple times.
That’s great, because Case Zero is good at making you want to play through more than once. Part of the Dead Rising fun is just mangling a horde of zombies, and to unlock one achievement – which requires killing 1,000 of them – there’s really no way to do it without dedicating about one whole playthrough just to making weapons and burying them in undead skulls. You also benefit from amping Chuck’s stats by doing lots of killing, then starting over.
Another achievement, the one for building all eight new combo weapons, requires just as much dedication. Many of the items needed for combos aren’t replicated throughout the map – the construction hat for the beer helmet, for example, is found in one place, and it’s on a rooftop. Figuring out the combos and locating their components will take at least one playthrough, and maybe more.
It’s all the extra side goals, not to mention just getting good enough to be able to accomplish all the tasks within the time limit, that make 400 MS points a great price for a pretty sweet little Dead Rising 2 experience. It satisfies several itches: the need to try Dead Rising 2, the completionist’s mindset, and the lust for zombie blood. And it’s cheap.
A good taste of the upcoming Dead Rising 2
Achievements add variety to play – sandbox-style or by following story
Lots of zombies to kill in new and creative ways
Enough content to justify price
Not too much different than Dead Rising
In some ways, it’s a big demo
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Can’t keep track of all the different Combo Weapons? Step into the armory.
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