Dead Rising 2 Review
Dead Rising 2 succeeds in one area far more than its predecessor – it features a likable main character with whom you’re likely to empathize. Where Frank West was a cocky photojournalist, Chuck Greene is a damaged man trying to get over the loss of his wife during a zombie outbreak in Fortune City (a Las Vegas-like gambling city) while working to keep his infected daughter from becoming a living impaired brain eater.
Chuck is a pay-per view action star whose motocross skills make him a master at riding a bike. He parlays his athletic history into a lucrative career running over zombies with his chainsaw equipped motorbike on pay TV. It’s fairly transparent from the beginning that Chuck isn’t enjoying his spotlight time, and anyone who played Dead Rising: Case Zero can see where Chuck and Katey end up after surviving that side trip into zombieville. Unlike Frank West, Chuck is a proficient zombie killer but he seemingly finds little joy in it. Sure, this is a game about mutilating zombies in every imaginable way while dressing up in the most ridiculous outfits one can find, but a little gravitas and character depth enhance the formula enough to make it a better experience.
Dead Rising 2 (PS3 [Reviewed], XBox360)
Developer: Blue Castle Games
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Dead Rising 2 kicks into high gear as the caged zombies used in Chuck’s event are released and Chuck himself is framed as the terrorist responsible. Struggling through the chaos he rescues his daughter from the arena studio and manages to make it into a civil shelter built to protect uninfected survivors until the military can arrive and sterilize the city 72 hours later. Man of action that he is, Chuck can’t just sit back and chill. Katey requires the drug Zombrex to avoid turning into one of the undead and Chuck is tapped so he has to venture out to find the expensive anti-zombie drug. Racing the clock and unraveling the mystery behind his frame up comprises the core of Dead Rising 2′s story.
Despite the extended countdown (You had 48 hours in Dead Rising), I have to say that 72 hours still left me feeling like I was rushing through missions. Players can charge straight through the story if they choose, but there are some great benefits to exploring and taking side trips while playing. Once the story is complete, you’ll be left planning your next replay. In a nod to the first game, you can even take a saved game and restart with Chuck maintaining his experience and abilities just like you could in Dead Rising.
Dead Rising 2 overcomes many of the technical problems of the original game yet manages to introduce a few new ones as well. Wading through lots of zombies is smoother now, and changes to the core gameplay with the addition of a crafting system and vehicles amps up the adrenaline nicely. There are more zombies in any given area and it’s fun to crowd surf through the clusters without noticeable lag.
Dead Rising 2′s faults lie in how the game interjects its story and combat sections. Story scenes are interesting to watch and mostly well voiced (the exception is any scene featuring the conniving TV reporter – she’s played as a bit of a caricature by her actress) but need long load times. When the game begins it’s actually jarring how often the game will play a minute long scene and then drop you to a loading screen for 30 seconds only to follow it with another minute long cut scene and load screen. Transitioning areas while hunting the game environments also leads to loading screens and a break in the action that I felt broke the excitement levels of combat far too often.
The loading issue was the biggest problem I encountered but there are some questionable additions as well. It’s great that Dead Rising 2 is a multiplayer game. In the four years since the original publishers have learned that single-player only titles don’t have legs. So the addition of cooperative campaign play is a smart choice. There is a problem however since this co-op implementation is pretty half-assed. Instead of expanding the story to include a helper or secondary character, Dead Rising 2 drops the second player in as a clone of Chuck. The game also does not recognize Chuck-2 as a different Chuck than the host/originator so there is no tailored response or other story revealed when playing with a friend. This is the mark of a slapped on co-op feature.
The other multiplayer mode consists of four players in an arena competing in various game show zombie killing events. This mode allows players to earn extra cash to be used while playing through the campaign so it has a purpose but it’s not going to be anyone’s replacement for CoD or Halo. Having the multiplayer arena games is nice, and it fits into the background of Chuck Greene as a TV star without overshadowing the primary reason people buy Dead Rising games – wandering through a mall killing tons and tons of undead in very creative ways.
Dead Rising 2 features some visual snap and the variety of zombie opponents is a strong point. Zombie gamblers come in all shapes and sizes and Chuck will have a wonderful time painting himself in viscera as he wades through them with the game’s many weapons. Replacing the hokey camera system of the first title, Chuck is a master of improvised weapons and players earn the ability to combine everyday objects in the environment into potent instruments of decapitation and destruction. The weapon combo system is fun to use and the game offers some very creative recipes for Chuck’s engineering hobby.
Aside from the combo system and better story, Dead Rising 2 feels like more of the same. The environments are still mall-like and the challenges, such as rescuing survivors and uncovering the plot behind this latest zombie outbreak, closely resemble the beats of the original. The formula is a good one and the new additions keep it fresh but let’s hope that future installments of the series mix things up a little more.
- Zombie Killing is still fun
- Chuck Greene is a likable character
- Dead Rising 2 is a refinement on some of the original’s most awkward concepts
- Weapon combo system leads to some great experiences
- Long and frequent load times
- Tacked on co-op mode