Review by Zietgiest
Is Chuck Green the new black?
The original Dead Rising was a great addition to any persons 360 collection despite many flaws and was probably the first must have title of the next gen consoles. Now years later we get a much anticipated sequel which brings a great deal of new things to the table however some old problems refuse to die, much like the games many many antagonists. Dead Rising 2 is good but be prepared for a few hiccups in the ride.
While I'm not a stickler for great storytelling in a game, I never thought I'd say that the original Dead Rising had a good story but in many ways it trumps it's sequel. While many people hated the camera function in the first game, I was in the camp that didn't mind it and found it to be an interesting aspect to the game. Setting up photo ops with zombies was normally pretty fun. Telling the story through the eyes of a protagonist who has little or no reason to help anyone else was an interesting device in shaping your own characters narrative. Sure saving Katey gives some gravity to Chuck's situation but it doesn't do anything new in the realm of game storytelling.
Many of the strongest improvements are gameplay related. The new weapon creation system is pretty awesome in the countless different ways you can slaughter to your hearts content. Paddlesaws, Hail Mary bombs, Drillbuckets, and a myriad of other instruments of death provide endless ways to cut your way through the horde. The system works fairly well for the most part with the depth of weaponry allowing for multiple playthroughs to actually see everything. The aiming and shooting system has also been updated with much satisfaction, one of the main flaws of the original was not being able to move while aiming which led to many frustrating boss battles. While over all the controls are much tighter, some slight issues remain with pulling yourself from a grapple and cheap boss tactics.
Level designs are also rather bland with pretty bad load times depending on where you are entering. I can't count how many times I purposely avoided Fortune Park just to skip the load time. This problem isn't game breaking but it is rather annoying considering other similar titles do not suffer from this while being in many ways graphically superior.
One big issue I have with DR2 is the difficulty. One of the things I most enjoyed in the first game was the fact that it was almost nearly impossible to complete the game on the first playthrough. This really isn't true for DR2, the bosses aren't particularly hard nor interesting to say the least and the horde while difficult at points is normally pretty easy to deal with. The time managing aspects remain unchanged but the lack of difficulty does not leave the player with a lot of tension. Leveling up and improving Frank West in the first game was a matter of priority lending an "RPGesque" feel to the game, more or less forcing you to explore the multiple endings and the world of DR itself in the process. This time round you can more or less breeze though most of the game without serious challenge. This aspect of the game was so critical to the enjoyability with the first one that it is a shame it doesn't make more of an appearance in this despite tremendous effort put into the system.
Sound was one of the shining aspects of the first game, some of the effects and songs were very memorable however I can't say the same for the sequel. While many of the original effects made the transition, very little in the way of new stuff rears its head. Plus many of the new songs are just annoying if anything.
In so many words DR2's MP is kind of lacking in depth, scale, and vision. I honestly would have been content with a free-roam where many Chuck Green's can show off what they've made or collected through the game but this isn't the case. While I can maybe see a few people actually playing through the entire co-op mode from start to finish, the chances of finding someone randomly or even finding someone you know who will go through the 12 plus hours it would take to finish a session. TIR is great for getting some pocket cash for your SP experience but not much else aside from bragging rights.
In short, the MP isn't worth much time.
I may seem harsh on DR2 but I was hoping and expecting a bit more. The improvements to the original game are very apparent but the intentions of the game don't follow through. Dead Rising was a great survival horror game that took the seriousness out of the genre but the sequel follows through with a ham fisted attempt to recapture the glory of the original.
While a great title by itself at times, DR2 doesn't quite live up because it doesn't stand on the shoulders of it's prequel. The improvements to the game would have given it much higher marks but the load times hamper any sense of tension as I finish a sandwich and coke while waiting for the Silver Strip to load. If you liked the first one you won't be entirely put off by this title and new comers to the series will enjoy the sheer amount of zombie death you can unleash.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Dead Rising 2 (US, 09/28/10)
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