Rental Review: Dead Rising 2

Posted: November 16, 2010 in Rental Review

After a brief hiatus it’s time to delve into the depths of rental fun.  I had a choice between Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Dead Rising 2.  You can guess by the title of this post that I chose the latter.  Let’s see if Capcom’s second foray into the zombie apocalypse is worth it or not.  There’s an included manual with about 24 pages in it, but the game will show icons for any context sensitive action on screen so it’s not really anything special.  The trend with black and white, thin game manuals has to stop.  If developers want us to spend $60 on their game(s) then a robust manual is a good way to show us that.  Anyway, on with the game playing and such…

You play as Chuck Green, a former motocross champion who lost his wife in an earlier zombie outbreak in Las Vegas.  Your daughter has been bitten by a zombie and now requires a daily dose of the anti-zombification drug: Zombrex.  Zombrex is apparently quite expensive and Chuck has been reduced to participating in a reality show called “Terror is Reality” in order to make money for more Zombrex.  Here is where the story begins.

After Chuck’s TiR performance, a zombie outbreak starts and he must now rush to rescue his daughter Katie.  Fighting through the zombie hordes Chuck rescues his daughter and finds a safe house in which to rest until the military arrives to rescue the survivors.  This is where the game proper begins.   From the safe house you can get to Fortune City through an air duct to save survivors and find Zombrex for Katie.  The Military arrives in 72 hours (3 days) and Katie will need a dose of Zombrex for each one if she is to survive.

If you’ve played the original Dead Rising the controls should be familiar to you, and just as clunky too.  Chuck is no Frank West and as such does not gain PP (DR’s version of experience points) from taking pictures of zombies, but gains it for kicking their undead asses instead.  The whole game is not just killing zombies and wandering around casinos and malls, there are survivors out there and they need Chuck’s help.  Survivors also have their own timers so you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to rescue them, and since they’re worth a ton of PP you’re best to try and rescue each one quickly.  This brings me to the next point:  The AI is much better this time around than in the last DR.  They can move better, get away from zombies on their own and walk faster than their DR1 counterparts and it makes the game less frustrating overall.  Another good thing improved upon from the last game is no more idiot calling you every three seconds to tell you something you already knew.

With the loss of Frank West’s camera mechanic there needs to be something that fills the gap and Chuck’s ability with duct tape is that mechanic.  Items found around the mall with a wrench icon can be combined with other items to make combo weapons.  Once you realize that the game will let you make the weapons even if you haven’t unlocked the card that coincides with it, it gets even more brutal.  Combining a bat with a box of nails makes the regular bat into a zombie crowd control weapon and mixing a flashlight with some gems makes a lightsabre that’s an indispensable boss killer.  It’s fun to see what you can come up with and even more fun to lay waste to a ton of zombies with them.

In Dead Rising 2 there are far more psychopaths to take down than before.  Psychopaths are humans that have gone mad from the zombie apocalypse and are now murderous.  These are basically boss fights that are really quite technical and kind of remind me of Mega Man with pattern solving and getting their weapon upon their defeat.  Some of them are fairly easy to deal with, while others are murderously hard until higher levels.

The level up system is quite well built with players going from level 1 to 50, though not in the same playthrough.  DR2 has a “New Game+” option and it’s badly needed.  Sometimes you can get into a game breaking situation with the time limits.  I ran into this about two thirds of the way through the game when I decided that I’d save a survivor instead of fight the boss right away for some added PP.  Unfortunately I ended up running out of time on the boss after 1 or 2 hits and I’d saved myself into a corner on that one.  Missing the boss was a game over condition and with my previous save being 5 hours earlier I had no choice but to “New Game+” at that point.  What a life saver.  If the new game + wasn’t there I would have returned the game there and then.  Some say this also means that Capcom didn’t have to balance the game properly, but I think it’s just because of how this game is supposed to go.  It’s supposed to make you think “boss or survivor?” and then laughs as you try and make up your mind as the timer clicks away.  It really does help amp up the suspense and tension while you sweat the details.

Aside from a few issues with the controls this game pretty much perfects the zombie sandbox formula that the first Dead Rising brought to the table.  Some animations are pretty long and without some sort of cancel you end up getting caught by a crowd of zombies or a psychopath that isn’t hindered by clunky, mostly context sensitive controls.  The story is really good (by zombie apocalypse game standards) and the dialogue is campy but pretty funny at times.  I actually laughed out loud at a few of Chuck’s one-liners and enjoyed the interplay between the survivors as well as the zombie killing fun.

BUYRENTPASS

Played on the Xbox 360 with the standard controller.  Played through 2/3 of the game then restarted the story to completion.  Got to Level 44 and killed 2431 zombies.  Play time about 18 hours.

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