Review by SolidFantasy
We're gonna be doin' 1 thing and 1 thing only... killin zombies!
In 2006 Capcom released Dead Rising exclusively for the Xbox 360. It took zombies and blended them into a game centered on a perfect dose of comedy and horror. When I say comedy, I'm not just referring to the cheesy B horror film plot, I'm talking about the 26,000 ways you can demolish one of the 100's of thousands of the undead. Whether comical or disturbing Dead Rising offered a plethora of unique ways to go about zombie genociding. Dead Rising 2 doesn't just greatly expand on this, it fixes all glaring faults from the first. The survivors you encounter no longer have less brains than the zombies themselves. They are actually worth saving and useful in battle. Dead Rising 2 also expands on the story and world already presented in Dead Rising, but done in a way where having played the first isn't required at all. In other words, grab some boxing gloves and attach some knives to it and go Wolverine on these rotting carcasses roaming the knockoff of Vegas: Fortune City. Oh yeah, did I mention that you're not only are you tearing up a mall this time, you're tearing up essentially a sandbox replica of Las Vegas!? Gambling, uncovering secrets, and zombie slaughtering ahoy!
Story: Dead Rising 2 takes place roughly 5 years after the events of Dead Rising. Although the games aren't directly linked, there are events from Dead Rising mentioned and referenced but newcomers to the series won't feel lost at all, as Dead Rising 2 is mostly just a sequel that exists in the same universe. Chuck Greene is a member of TIR, or Terror Is Reality. Terror Is Reality is basically a game show revolving around punishing zombies in amusing or brutal ways for money. Chuck doesn't actually enjoy this, but what's done has got to be done to afford Zombrex. Zombrex is a drug required to be taken by infected people (people bitten by zombies) every 24 hours so they don't turn. Chuck's daughter Katey has been infected for quite some time now and Chuck has been keeping her alive for months, actually almost 2 years. There is no sign of the zombie outbreak ending, or a permanent cure on the horizon. All there is containment... until all hell breaks loose at the Terror Is Reality Arena one evening. Zombies have been let free by C.U.R.E ( not Robert Smith) AKA the hippies of the Zombie Apocalyptic World. Chuck Greene has also been framed as being solely responsible. For the Fortune City outbreak. To make matters worse the Military is coming in 72 hours and well... there's not going to be a happy ending is Chuck's name isn't cleared. As if this wasn't enough bad news, Chuck is out of Zombrex. Chuck certainly has his work cut out for him as he befriends a C.U.R.E member who knows Chuck is being set up too along with C.U.R.E. Who set Chuck up? What do they want? Can you kill a zombie with a bottle of Ketchup? All the answers await you in Dead Rising 2 as you fight your way through zombies, casinos, and toddler stores while saving survivors that you want to throw off a balcony, (I'm glaring at you Esther!) finding Zombrex, clearing your name, and pushing zombies into other zombies with an electrified wheelchair! No, that last part was not made up.
Game-Play: The basics of Dead Rising remain unchanged and once again the concept of the game-play is either love or hate. Dead Rising 2 is once again a timed game. You have 72 hours which equates to 6 hours real time to go about whatever it is you want to do. Once again people will whine about how there is no free-roam but if they opened up their eyes they would realize that the entire game is free-roam. You aren't forced to do a single mission. I didn't actually seriously the start the story until my 3rd play-through. Not only does that destroy this ridiculous complaint but it's also a testament to how addicting the game can be. There are set-times indicating where you must be for the next Case Mission to start. Since you will often have plenty of free time you will also be notified of side-missions from Stacy (the C.U.R.E member you befriend) through a transceiver. Now before you punt a kitten out the window at the thought of the horrifying return of the transceiver I have a few pleasant tidbits of info about it. You don't have to answer every single call only to be cutoff by a hungry zombie that lead to Otis calling you and throwing a fit because God-forbid I try and stay alive! That's a crime, Otis deserved 150% of my attention! Nope, in Dead Rising 2 90% of your messages are simple texts with only story related events being worthy of an actual call. My only complaint still with the transceiver system is how only 8 survivors can be spawned at once. It causes unnecessary rushing at times when you're trying to do something specific. I think Capcom should allow unlimited survivor spawning (of course with each mission still timed) but only allow 8 survivors in your party. At least the survivors got a massive AI upgrade though and aren't entirely useless. It isn't just survivors you'll be rescuing in these side-mission though. Just like the outbreaks at the Willamette Mall, Fortune City has received it's fair share of colorful Psychopaths. A whopping 20 of them to be exact. These Psychopaths all seem to on par at least in the insanity department with the Psychopaths found in Dead Rising.
One of the main attractions of the Dead Rising games is killing zombies in a huge variety of ways whether they're novelty or brutal. If it isn't bolted down to the ground it can be used as a weapon. Folding Chairs, Boxing Gloves, Sledgehammers, you name it and chances are it's a weapon. Capcom has found a way to totally outdo themselves though with Combo Cards. Combo Cards are obtainable in many ways such as leveling up, saving survivors, and more. Now moving on to what Combo Cards actually do , they tell you a weapon that can be created by combining two weapons. They also give you a Player Points boost for each kill with said weapon. Of course you don't need the actual combo card to create a weapon. Capcom supports creativity, and in Fortune City creativity kills. I mean it, here's a taste of what you can create: a fire-axe and a sledgehammer make a nifty weapon, a paddle and a chainsaw make a paddle saw which is a paddle with chainsaws attached to each end. You can make a rocket launcher out of a lead pipe and fireworks. Also, you can make truly make a boom-stick with a pitchfork and a shotgun. Ash would be proud! Killing zombies isn't the only way to earn Player Points though. Saving survivors, bringing Katey gifts, defeating Psychopaths and more reward you. There are even various mini-games you can play around Fortune City such as tapping A in a box to grab money as it flies around. Money has its own uses too such as buying Zombrex if you can't find any or the keys to an SUV to mow down thousands of undead. You can also gamble or play Texas Hold Em' with survivors to earn cash. Leveling up is of course useful for the various health and inventory upgrades but I can't help but feel some of Chuck's upgrades aren't as awesome or useful as some of Frank's upgrades. I miss zombie-ride the most but oh well. In between doing Cases and Side-mission you can roam around the game again eating foods for health, mixing foods and drinks together to create special drinks, (Spitfire lets you, well... spit fire) and playing dress-up. You can have Chuck looking ready to go hunting, looking like a SWAT member or cross-dressing if you want. A lot of these aspects come together brilliantly again to create the funniest horror game. The game is oozing with creativity and becomes an addiction. It constantly feels as if you're stumbling upon new weapons or things to do. There's also a freaking tameable tiger... just throwing that out there.
The game is fairly challenging but less so than the first game. During day 3 something happens that causes the difficulty to ramp up but not as bad as wanting to break a controller ( I'm looking at you Brock from Dead Rising). It also seems like Dead Rising 2 tones down on the cheap inescapable attacks by giving you Quick Time Events to escape or minimize the damage. The save system is also more accessible with more opportunities to save and 3 save slots now. Basically Dead Rising 2 feels a lot more fair and while still challenging less frustrating.
Graphics/Sound: The graphics in Dead Rising 2 are vastly improved. Chuck actually becomes drowned in blood upon slaughtering zombies. The draw distance is improved and there are way more zombies on screen at once. Of course this does cause some frame-rate issues at times but it doesn't happen all that much. The only real area where graphics still need improving are animations during cut-scenes and fixing those horrible shadow problems. I don't even know how to fully explain but sometimes there's almost a full visible shadow-esque thing on a characters face and it's hideous. However the game's texture details and sound effects more than make up for it. Everything from a nail filled baseball bat to the already memorable relaxing mall/casino music to the heavy metal riffs during Psychopath battles. The voice-acting is also incredible for what Capcom goes for. Every one-liner Chuck lays down is delivered perfectly and has that 80's B-horror film vibe to it. All the characters are voiced well and like-able. Despite some graphical flaws I'll give Dead Rising 2 a thumbs up here too. The game's biggest technical flaw is the load times though. My God they are absurdly long even with the game installed.
Re-Playability: Dead Rising 2 has multiple endings and is just plain addicting. It also boasts another brutally time consuming achievement (some are a bit glitchy though which is annoying). Dead Rising 2 will certainly have you playing for hours on end with it's almost endless amount of amusing ways to kill zombies.
Awesome amusing, brutal, and unique weapons
Chuck is a suitable replacement for Frank
Fixed survivor AI and save system
Difficulty is fair now
Memorable music of all kinds
Amazing sound effects
A tameable tiger
Some graphical flaws
Long load times
Limited amount of survivor spawns at once
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Dead Rising 2 (Zombrex Edition) (US, 09/28/10)
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