Review by TTOHPKC
"Its not just about killing zombies, wait never mind."
Capcom raises the dead once more with the release of Dead Rising 2 for the Xbox 360. In the first installment you defended yourself against endless ever increasing hordes of the undead. Capcom returns to the 72 HR survival formula for the sequel. Despite similar game play and mechanics developer Blue Castle Games has improved upon the original in almost every aspect. If you were a fan of the original read onward to find out why you should grab the nearest object and begin slaying the undead immediately.
Following the first outbreak incident in Colorado the zombie virus has become common knowledge. Pharmaceutical companies have developed a treatment for early cases of zombification and entrepreneurs have utilized the undead as cannon fodder in an extreme reality show called Terror Is Reality. You take on the role of Chuck Greene an ex-motocross champion who has become a rising star in the Terror Is Reality circle. Already dealing with a daughter who requires Zombrex to live; Chuck is framed for the release of zombies from the TIR facility in to the nearby Fortune City. Chuck must work with the media and a nationwide pro-zombie group to help clear his name before the military arrives to quarantine the city.
Dead Rising 2 is first and foremost a combat based action game. As you control Chuck through the seemingly endless amounts of the undead you have to balance several tasks at one time keeping yourself alive through combat, progressing through the story to clear your name and keeping Katie alive. As with the first game nearly every object in the game world can be used as a weapon. Whether you've grabbed a beach ball, large umbrella or a power drill all of these objects will give you a satisfying kill. Chuck isn't a one trick pony he is also able to combine certain weapons/objects together to form devastating homemade hybrid weapons. Did you find yourself with a wheelchair and battery in your inventory? Why not combine them in to a mobile electric chair? Got yourself some nails and bat? Wipe out that zombie herd with a spiked bat. As Chuck gains kills using these special weapons he gains PP (Power Points) that increase his overall health and combat prowess through an experience system.
Once you have explored the creative combat methods and learned to keep yourself alive by slaying zombies and sustaining yourself on mall food you next priority should be clearing your name before time is up. Chuck has to work his way through multiple case files that are triggered according to the in-game time. Supporting characters will give Chuck specific goals, locations and tasks to complete within a set amount of time. Depending on your amount of success with these case files will determine which of the four endings you receive. Often there are long stretches up to 8 in-game hours between these case files. This will give you time to work on saving your daughter by finding medication placed throughout fortune city or slaughtering more zombies to reach the next level. Unfortunately these 20 30 minute lulls can cause the pacing to fall flat. You can sometimes find yourself checking you're in-game watch for the next story mission rather than spending your time killing.
Boss battles take the form of psychopath battles. The boss characters are triggered by either entering predefined zones or via the timed story missions. Blue Castle Games really shows some creative characters with their psychopaths. They are basically everyday people who have snapped due to the psychological trauma associated with the reality of a Zombie outbreak. Throughout your time in fortune city you will come across everything from fellow motorcycle riders to characters of questionable status taming a tiger. The majority of these boss battles follow a standard formula of attacking, defending and learning the boss's movements. There are a few exceptions which are vehicle based in the end the psychopath's design and motivations are far more interesting than the battles that they are featured in.
Multiplayer in Dead Rising 2 takes the form of the Terror is Reality Pay-Per-View event. Up to four players can band together over Xbox live to partake in four rounds of varying minigames. The objective of each of these mini games is to dispatch the most zombies while earning points for each kill. The method for achieving these kills is what makes the multiplayer interesting. From driving chainsaw wielding motorcycles to 4 player sniper rounds Dead Risings 2's multiplayer offers an engaging distraction from the main campaign. As an added bonus all the points you earn in Terror is Reality can be transferred to your single player save as cash.
The graphics in Dead Rising 2 hit many high and low points throughout the six hour campaign. Player models emote well with gestures, individual facial animations and convincing movements. Each item that Chuck can pick up accurately represents their real world counterparts but they could have used more detailed textures. Each item only has one set of textures the game could have benefited from some variation here. The amount of clothing in Dead Rising 2 is staggering. You can outfit your Chuck with everything from a motocross suit to a Sunday dress. Like the weapons however there aren't many variations for many of these items, if at all. The level design in Dead Rising 2 also follows a similar formula to the repeating weapons a set number of locations with similar layouts repeated to create the large in-game environment. You will come across a number of pharmacies, casinos and courtyards but unfortunately each one seems very similar to others in the game.
The sound in Dead Rising 2 is very similar to the first game. Each weapon features two or three different sound effects. The background music ranges from smooth jazz melodies and elevator music in the mall/courtyard-like sections to guitar laden rock tracks when you battle the psychopaths. As with the detailing on weapons and the different types of missions variations within the selection of sound and music are a bit of a problem. Throughout the course of the game you will hear the same few tracks looping in the different areas of the mall. In regards to the weapons don't be expecting to be tuning your surround sound system listening for bullet reflections. The sounds of Dead Rising 2 are here to help accent the mood rather than appeal to audiophiles.
Overall Dead Rising 2 is a satisfying action game that offers unique enemies, weapons and ways to deal with the obstacles in your path. There are very few games that showcase this kind of creativity combined with a protagonist with a believable reason behind their cause. Where the game falls short is its lack of variety in key areas such as texture work and musical selection. Despite the flow of the story stuttering somewhat between missions this game does provide an enjoyable experience that shouldn't be missed. Returning veterans will enjoy the expanded save system and the new multiplayer and weapon combination modes.
This is definitely a game I would love to spend time on, but sometimes the endless killing of zombies can be too much.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/07/12
Game Release: Dead Rising 2 (US, 09/28/10)
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