Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dead Rising 2 review

    Dead Rising 2 is the sequel to the extremely popular Dead Rising game. I've already reviewed Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, so I'll avoid rehashing what the series is about. The short version is: zombies, lots and lots of zombies. Of course, you probably guessed that from the cover and/or title.

    Like Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, the game stars Chuck Greene. Chuck is a father of a young girl named Katey. Poor Katey infected with ZOMBIEITIS (for lack of a better term) and needs an expensive shot every twenty-four hours or she'll become one of the undead.

    Chuck, in order to feed this expensive habit, trades his dignity as a former motocross star and survivor of the Las Vegas outbreak to compete on a nightmarish zombie-killing game show called Terror is Reality.

    I didn't buy Dead Rising 2 at first because I, erroneously, thought the entire game would be about the Terror is Reality concept.  Thankfully, this isn't the case. The tasteless psychopathia on display during TIR is only one notch below The Running Man. Even the short segment you play in called "Slicecycle" was too much for me.

    The real meat of the game takes place after Chuck has competed. Someone, their identity unknown, has released the thousands of zombies kept by the show. These zombies swiftly slaughter everyone in the Las Vegas knock-off of Fortune City. Yep, poor Chuck who survived the Las Vegas outbreak is once forced to fight off hordes of the undead. It's especially problematic because his daughter needs her Anti-Zombie Medicine to stay alive.

    That's the premise in a nutshell.

    Chuck is a markedly different hero than Frank West. Whereas Frank West was a somewhat sleazy reporter, more interested in getting his story than helping people, Chuck simply wants to protect his daughter. Comparing the two, I have to say I prefer Chuck because he strikes me as a believable kind of hero. Chuck's priorities are his family above his personal safety but he’s willing to risk the later to help other people as long as the former isn't threatened.

    There's a lot of twists and turns in the story, some of which I approve of and some of which I don't. To be honest, some of the later ones seem cribbed from Resident Evil and should have been removed in the development stage. Still, the plot hangs together remarkably well and is a great deal more intricate than Dead Rising's.

    Really, though, I doubt most gamers are playing Dead Rising 2 for its story. No, the real reason people play Dead Rising is to kill zombies in a sandbox-style environment. For that, Dead Rising 2 delivers in spades. There's hundreds of ways to kill them with every conceivable weapon imaginable. A new system is creating "Combination Weapons" which range from the sensible nails in a baseball bat to a pair of chainsaws on a boat paddle.

    The real flaw of Dead Rising 2 is that you are on a timer and can't do all of the missions while exploring the environment to your heart's content. Yeah, the timer adds a sense of urgency to the story but it also means that you won't be able to do as much in your first playthrough as you might like. There's also something else which bothers me and that's the damn difficulty.
    Seriously, this game is damn hard. There's no cheat codes and the timer makes it impossible to level up enough to take down the problems you might want to address later. Yes, I know I'm a big whiner but I'm really not all that good with video games despite how much I love them. I'd kill for a Dead Rising 2 Causal setting.

    The graphics and level design of Dead Rising 2 almost, almost, make up for it by themselves. The casinos, malls, and maintenance tunnels give Fortune City a garish and colorful feel to help with its social satire (yep! I'm doing another one on this game series). The sense of wealth and its power is all pervasive.

    Unfortunately, the game has an inconsistent tone. Its characters and plot vary from zany humor to grimdark seriousness without any transition. Some might say this is a hallmark of the Dead Rising series but I recall the original as being slightly more even. Still, I can't say it ruined my enjoyment as the serious parts are moving while the funny parts are entertaining.

    In conclusion, Dead Rising 2 is not a game without flaws. It is, however, devilishly entertaining. I recommend any gamers with exceptional patience and/or skills to pick this one up. Even if you don't finish it, it's still worth the price of purchase.


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