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Dead Rising 2


Taking out the Undead, One Power Drill-Bucket Hat at a time!
Three years ago, the original Dead Rising hit store shelves and really impressed critics / gamers with a concept thatís been perfect for video games; yet no company had successfully pulled it off until Capcom. Right out of a Dawn of the Dead scenario, you were in control of Frank West, a photojournalist that was trapped in a zombie-infested shopping mall in Willamette, Colorado. Fast forward five years after the terrible outbreak in Willamette and Capcom puts you in control of Chuck Greene, a motocross champion thatís taking care of his little girl (Katey) in a world populated with zombies. This world has accepted the zombie plague and a pharmaceutical company is profiting off it with a medicine called Zombrex. Zombrex suppresses the zombie takeover of a human host, but only if a shot is administered every 24 hours. Katey falls into this category unfortunately.



The opening of the narrative has Chuck competing for cash on a reality game show called Terror is Reality, a game show that puts contestants on motorcycles with chainsaws attached and lets them loose in a zombie filled arena to kill thousands of the walking undead. After incriminating events unfold that cause the zombies to get released into the Vegas-style Fortune City, Chuck has to clear his name before the United States military arrives and locks him up. Plus he has to keep his daughter safe from zombies and completely stocked up on Zombrex shots. Capcom did a superb job of providing a more entertaining story this time around as well as more backstory on the interesting supporting characters. If you want to see the events that led Chuck to enter Fortune City, you can play through the story in Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, the Xbox Live Arcade prequel to Dead Rising 2.

The core design of the gamplay is intact from the original Dead Rising. There are specific points in time when you need to complete the in-game story missions as well as give Chuckís daughter her daily Zombrex shot. Chuck can check his wristwatch at any point in the game to keep track of the time, there are alerts via the communicator on upcoming events and the on-screen HUD allows you to keep track of multiple missions based on urgency. In order of priority, Zombrex shots come first, then case files, then civilian saving side missions. Also similar to the previous game, itís extremely difficult to complete all the missions on the first playthrough. Thereís inevitably going to be civilians that get eaten up because Chuck has to fight off psychopaths or figure out why heís being framed for mass genocide by releasing zombies into the city.



One new feature thatís got every Dead Rising fan buzzing is the addition of Combo cards, basically a method of combing weapons to create more powerful melee, ranged and vehicle versions. These combo cards are earned as Chuck levels up throughout the course of the game. In order to build the weapons on the combo weapons list, you get access to the red door maintenance rooms early in the game and create them on the workbenches. Capcom included some zany weapons in the mix. There are some solid standards like a Flamethrower (Super Soaker and the Gas Can), Exploding arrows (Bow, Arrows, Dynamite) and Boxing gloves with nails sticking out of them. Some of the crazier weapons include an American Gladiatorís style spinning ball hooked up to a car battery, a giant teddy bear mowing down zombies with a machine gun and remote controlled helicopter with spinning machete blades.

If you use these combo weapons, you will build up the game experience points otherwise known as PP. Identical to the previous game, these points are what dictate how quickly Chuck can level up. A higher volume of points can be garnered by convincing survivors to come with you to the safe house as well as getting them their safely. (Tip: You can also bring Katey toys from around the city like giant stuffed animals, marbles and beach balls to get more PP.) Survivor AI is vastly improved from the previous game, namely their ability to evade as long as Chuck keeps moving. Occasionally, you have to go back to help a survivor thatís being choked by a zombie, but they likely need help to run to the safe house in the first place. Survivors can lean on Chuckís shoulder or ride on his back to safety. Survivors seem better armed in this go-around as well, but they still get in the way of Chuckís melee swings.



With the inventory slots, you can store weapons, magazines to boost abilities and food to regenerate health as you roam around the casinos and outdoor mall area. There are also pawn shops to purchase combo weapons and Zombrex around the map, but you can really find enough on your own if you are the explorative type. You will certainly need to be geared up to take on the psychopaths littered among your survivor missions. These bosses are extremely though to take out on your first playthrough and they have special attacks along with the ability to regenerate. It takes strategic choices to take out these crazed humans (like the 5 star chef thatís gone insane after eating human meat).

Regarding multiplayer, Capcom has co-op play during the story mode and multiplayer mini-games to choose from. You can pop into a friendís game and help them level up their character or take on psychopaths. Both characters earn PP, but only the host gets to save their progress. Itís definitely an entertaining mode if you have a buddy thatís willing to help. The gameís performance staggers though due to the increased actions within the game world. The Terror is Reality mini-games arenít as entertaining, namely just a way to earn extra cash by playing against online competitors. The achievement set is solid with a broad range of numeric tasks to achieve like getting to level 50 or finding all of Kateyís gifts. Thereís plenty of achievements for the casual player to earn as well.



Graphics

  • Dead Rising 2 looks very much like the first game, but the amount of zombies on the screen has increased dramatically. Additionally, bodies donít seem to disappear and will remain bloody corpses until you load a new area. There are framerate issues that come along with the 360 version, something that the PC version doesnít have assuming you have a beefy graphics card. However, the framerate issues donít hamper the in-game experience. The cutscene work is pretty excellent as well, however the character animations are still as still as the original game.

Audio

  • Once again, the voiceovers arenít stellar. Chuck and Katey sound great, but much of the supporting cast is overacted. On the flip side, the sound effects are superb. The lurching zombie moan, the crunch of my trusty nail-bat against zombie skulls, ambient casino slot machines ringing and terrified screaming civilians all sound excellent. Thereís limited musical tracks in the game, similar to the mall music in the original Dead Rising, but it definitely sets the mood.



Conclusion

Dead Rising 2 is a game that pulls you in 10 directions all at once, but makes you prioritize your time due to the ever-ticking clock. Itís really impossible to play through the game once and experience all the crazed psychopath encounters or save all civilians calling for Chuckís help. The amazing thing is that itís not frustrating at all. When starting a new game with all the experience you built up from the previous playthrough, you are faster and more equipped to save everyone. It makes the game even more entertaining the second or third time through. Add in the co-op play and thereís a great deal of material to play though. Many times, I had to force myself to quit playing just because itís extremely addictive to keep racing against the clock.

That being said, critics of the first game are going to find problems with Dead Rising 2, namely the highly difficult boss battles and the poorly structured inventory system. However, they will appreciate the increased amount of save slots, much better survivor AI and the vastly improved narrative. Definitely pick up Dead Rising 2 if you are fan of the first game or are simply looking for a new action / adventure game to digest before the mad rush of holiday games are upon us.

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