Review: Dead Rising 2
Dead Rising 2 is the sequel to 2006's Xbox 360 exclusive Dead Rising. The original was a game with a very intriguing premise and with lots of potential, although not all of it was realised. Did Dead Rising 2 achieve what its predecessor did not?
- Worth The Time?Yes, it can be a lot of fun, but be warned it can also be very tedious.
- Things LovedThe sheer amount of weapons and weapon combinations, killing armies of zombies and the fun to be had in doing it, the crazy theme of the game, the mystery surrounding the plot and manner in which you progress through it, the amount of zombies that feature on-screen at once, exploring the game world.
- Things HatedThe stupid friendly AI, the immense frustration involved in dying and failing missions, the extremely slow speed at which you move, the time it takes to really get into the game, the clunky controls, having to constantly monitor the in-game time for missions, the frequent loading screens to put up with.
- RecommendationDead Rising 2 is very difficult to recommend for purchase or avoidance. On the one hand there is definitely something here to enjoy and there really is fun to be had with it, so a second hand purchase or a rental is an option. But as for getting it off the shelf at full price there are many, many other games out there right now, and still to be released, that might require your wallet's attention. As such you may want to wait before you buy this one.
- Name: Dead Rising 2
- Genre: Action
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Online Co-Op (2 players) and Online Multiplayer (4 players)
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Capcom, Blue Castle
- Publisher: Capcom
- Price: R643-699 (PS3, 360), R368-399 (PC)
- Reviewed On: PS3
After my experience with Dead Rising 2, I must admit that I was honestly pretty surprised to see the amount of positive reviews that it has been given so far. That’s not to say that I think it’s a bad game or that I’m trampling over its success, not at all, but I guess my opinion just differs. Dead Rising 2 certainly seems to be well-received by critics, with the general idea being that it is a flawed, but great game. However, as I see it, it’s surely a fun and enjoyable game, but there’s just so much more that could have been done with this title and, going broader, with the entire franchise. It has immense potential, and I honestly would be interested to see a Dead Rising 3, provided Capcom plans to go all out with it that is.
Dead Rising 2 is the sequel to the Xbox360’s hit Dead Rising from 2006. The premise is both very interesting and unique, but it’s also very tricky. You take on the role of Chuck Greene, former motocross champion, whose wife has been slain by zombies, leaving his small daughter, Katey, infected. There exists a treatment, Zombrex, to prevent the infected from turning zombie, but in order for Chuck to get it he needs money. To get cash, Chuck becomes a contestant on the TV show, Terror Is Reality, where humans are pit against the undead for money and fame. After the show, a massive zombie outbreak occurs, and all of the blame for it is thrown onto Chuck. Survivors of the outbreak flee and hide in the Fortune City safe house, waiting for military rescue due to arrive in three days. In that time, Chuck has to prove his innocence, make sure his daughter has Zombrex and kill thousands of zombies before the military arrive to fix everything.
If you haven’t played the first Dead Rising, I labelled the premise of the game as tricky because you really do have three days to play the game. That’s in-game time, mind you, and not real life. This means that all missions in the game, including main story missions, have time limits attached to them before they expire. If a critical mission expires, the main story will be lost, and you’ll then have to reload your save, restart the entire story keeping your current stats or continue playing until the three days are over. The concept is interesting and can create quite an atmosphere for the game, but it might not be appealing to many who do not wish to have a nagging time limit above their heads preventing them from just messing around. The story will intrigue you enough to want to uncover the conspiracy, but if not for the time limits and long winded cutscenes, it probably would not be your main focus. However, Dead Rising 2 begs to be played multiple times, so there is plenty of opportunity to do things differently, make other choices or simply do whatever you want, especially since you can restart the game keeping everything you’ve unlocked, your level and stats.
Essentially, Dead Rising 2 is an action game that incorporates RPG elements. In a nutshell, as that’s all it takes to explain the gameplay, you’ll ultimately be left on your own to kill thousands of zombies, play the main story whenever a mission becomes available and take part in side quests that are given to you via your cellphone, which mainly consist of escort missions, fetch quests and targets to kill. There are an endless supply of zombies to kill, with hundreds of them on screen at any given time, and practically anything you find in the environment can be used as a weapon against them. Killing zombies, completing missions and saving survivors grants you experience points, which level you up to increase your maximum health, unlock more moves and open up more inventory slots.
The best addition to the game is the ability to combine weapons, creating devastating death devices. This is where the game really shines, because it truly is priceless to rig a bucket with a bunch of drills and jam it on a zombie’s head, or to combine a sledgehammer and an axe to create a defiler that shreds zombies to pieces, or to stick a bunch of knives into boxing gloves to make Wolverine claws, or to equip a large, robot teddy bear with a machine gun to mow down zombies with. There are so many possibilities it’s hard not to admire Dead Rising 2 and the amount of ways it offers to dish out the pain. This isn’t just for fun either, as these special weapons take longer than ordinary weapons to break, dish out more damage and earn you more experience points per kill. However, the problem with this system is that it can often take quite a bit of time to collect the necessary goods to assemble your favourite weapons, and the result can often be something not worth the effort, which altogether wastes time.
The game is simple to play, with the combat being pretty basic for the most part. You’ll be hacking, throwing, shooting, spraying or riding weapons, depending on what you’re using. What I’ve so far mentioned most probably makes the game sound interesting and appealing, and that’s exactly what it is, up to a point. The problems come in with the gameplay, which is a pity, because when Dead Rising 2 is going smoothly, it’s a real blast, but then things are going badly, it’s excruciatingly frustrating – more so than many games I’ve played in recent history. Firstly, the game allows for three save slots, and you can save your game by entering a bathroom or at set points in the story. However, there is no autosave feature and no checkpoints within missions, which leads me to the biggest problem with Dead Rising 2: wasted time. In order to fully realise this flaw and how it effects the game, certain aspects of the game have to be explained first.
It’s implied that the time constraints on missions and the game itself would make the experience tense, and that the stretched out saving would make the player fear death, but the result is that dying becomes the most frustrating thing you can imagine, especially when you meet your fate cheaply. It can easily erase a solid 20 minutes or more of gameplay. This becomes even more disheartening when considering that all of your progress goes with that, which means side missions completed, survivors rescued, weapons created and experience and levels gained. That last one especially hits home hard, because leveling up can take a long time. It’s understandable that playing the game multiple times is encouraged, because leveling up makes you stronger, but what this does to Dead Rising 2 is make the early game a real pain at times. You have next to no moves, which means the combat can easily become repetitive, boring and a chore, you lack health which means bosses are harder and you often have to scrounge around for food to heal you.
Due to the nature of the game, dying does nothing but frustrate the living hell out of you. It’s painful to realise that the past half an hour of playing meant absolutely nothing. It can often make you shut the game down completely and play something else. Dying does not even teach you what not to do next time, due to the unpredictability of the game and cheap ways in which you can die, especially in the clunky boss fights. To make things worse, Chuck’s movement speed is extremely slow, which means zombies can annoyingly grab onto you as you’re running through them, which can result in a cheap death if you’re low on health, or it can take you a long time to get to missions further spread out in Fortune City, where the worst case would be you run out of time before you can get there – that’s obviously frustrating. It also causes time to be wasted when you simply want to explore.
On the note of failure and dying, it gets even worse. The AI for friendly NPCs is terrible, and your friendlies have a good chance of attacking you while you’re helping them. It shouldn’t be too hard to imagine how angry you’d get if a shotgun blast from the person you’re helping is the way your life ends. It works the other way too. Your attacks can cause damage to fellow team members, which means you can end up either killing or greatly reducing the health of friendlies while fighting the zombie army. All of this might sound like I’m venting, or even nitpicking, but the main point I’m trying to emphasise is how easily your time can be completely wasted – and for stupid reasons. Dead Rising 2 can really make you go green, more likely during the early hours of the game than when you’re big and strong. Basically, it can seem as though it’s starting at an all-time low, only becoming better the more you play, and this messes up the pacing.
Just as Dead Rising 2 is simple to play, it’s also easy to enjoy, as the endless supply of zombies to kill provides solid entertainment, especially more so when you factor in the super weapons you can create. Uncovering the truth through the game’s main story is enough to get you going, while things are progressing smoothly and frustration-free of course, and meeting the game’s host of psychotic characters and villains is also an enjoyable experience, managing to add an obscene sense of drama to the game. It’s sometimes hard not to lose yourself in the depths of Fortune City and the memorable zombie-slaying, and you’ll often lose track of time – unfortunately in-game too – as you become engaged in the slaughter. If that isn’t enough, you can go through the game wearing the most bizarre costumes you can think of, depending on what you find, which certainly lightens the mood. There are tons of customisation options, which is definitely welcome. Running around with nothing but a Mohawk, shorts and Wolverine claws is enough to draw laughs.
The intrigue surrounding replaying the game for different outcomes is certainly there, but that requires a large amount of time and a certain level of devotion on your part. Dead Rising 2 is not a game that you can play in short bursts, unless your only aim is to kill zombies, or if you’re heading online. The competitive multiplayer mode in Dead Rising 2 is not all that appealing, and it’s easy to completely ignore it entirely while playing the game. Basically, it takes you to the Terror Is Reality TV show, and consists of a set of mini-games designed for four players. You’ll be required to lay waste to the undead for points, competing against other players for the most kills, using weapons such as human-sized hamster balls and motorcylces with chainsaw blades attached to the sides. The plus side is that money earned in competitive multiplayer can be transferred to your single-player game, but these modes aren’t really exciting.
The online co-op mode is a different story, and naturally killing zombies is made a lot more fun with a friend involved. It certainly doesn’t make the game if you’re chasing the story, but it adds something nice to the single-player experience. Basically, a friend, who is also Chuck, can drop into your single-player world and aid you in butchering zombies and fighting bosses, and essentially it’s just playing through the single-player with someone else, except for the fact that the guest player of course will only be able to save experience, levels and cash gained, and not story progression.
When it comes to graphics, Dead Rising 2 delivers on quantity, but lacks in quality. Some of its issues can be looked over when considering just how many cool zombies can be on-screen at any given time, but some things can’t be forgiven as easily. An example of this is the in-game loading, which occurs a bit too frequently and takes a bit too long each time. Other issues include stiff animations during cutscenes and the lack of voice acting for certain dialogue, where you’ll instead have to read text boxes. Perhaps this was to add a more RPG feel to the game, but it’s not impressive in this day and age in a game that shouldn’t have it. Overall, though, Dead Rising 2’s visuals are pretty good, and perhaps the only thing that will interest you is what impact your weapons have on the zombies surrounding you.
Dead Rising 2 had a lot of promise, but unfortunately the final product doesn’t feel like all it could have been. There are great ideas and concepts here that have only to be fully realised and expanded for them to become something truly great. In its current state it can be a lot of fun and a worthy way of passing your time, but its sometimes frustrating flaws can damage the experience. All in all, it’s just as difficult to recommend Dead Rising 2 for purchase as it is for outright avoidance, but that doesn’t discount it from being a possible choice as a second-hand buy or rental. You’ll definitely find enjoyment in it, among other things.