It's been a pretty long time since Dead Rising graced our screens in all its zombie extravaganza glory and for horror fans that are obsessed with the dimwitted undead, such a myself, it was an absolute blast to work your way through. But now after years of waiting, the rotting corpses have raised their ugly heads to cause chaos once again, but this time they're not localised to the confines of Willamette mall, instead they're shuffling their way around the gambling driven streets of Fortune city. However, many of you out there might have already got a glimpse of the carnage by downloading Case Zero and battling through the hostile alleys of Still Creek. The extended demo became my playground for a long, long time as I revelled in the new experience of combining already formidable weaponry into combo weapons and then sending many a zombie back to their graves. As a result I was itching to get my hands on the full game and once I did, I can happily report that I wasn't disappointed.
A new game in the series required a new hero, so don't expect to jump into Frank West's shoes because he's only mentioned briefly in a cutscene, instead you'll be controlling former motorcross champion Chuck Greene as he struggles to keep himself alive whilst looking out for the precious drug Zombrex to keep his daughter Katey from turning into one of the living dead. I like the fact that the writers decided to include Katey in the game, because I think that it gives Chuck a bit more of a plausible reason to continue risking his life amongst the zombie hordes. Luckily, collecting Zombrex isn't your only objective though, you also need to discover the truth behind this outbreak in addition to rescuing survivors and dispatching the various psychopaths that are strewn throughout the environment.
This time around the survivors aren't quite as helpless as their counterparts from the original game and you can happily pass them a weapon so they can help you hold the undead at bay, or if they get hurt you can give them something to eat or drink to regain their health before carrying on your merry way. In the original game it was pretty hard to judge whether or not the survivors were going to accompany you when you passed through a door to another section of the game, especially when you had more than one of them in tow, so it's a good job that the developers decided to include a handy little icon in the sequel that appears over their name to let you know that they'll be there once the load screen's disappeared.
Now, everybody who's played the original game'll know that if you read a task that involves a sinister sounding character, or see a strange sight that warrants examination, or enter an area that was previously accessible but now throws up a load screen, it heralds one thing and one thing only; the introduction of a psychopath. They are the boss characters of the series and whilst they weren't exactly a walk in the park in the first game, they're far more difficult to deal with in the sequel and it's advisable to save your game if you know you're about to face one. The good news is that the weapons you've collected to kill the undead can also be turned on these twisted members of the human race.
That brings me on nicely to the hardware that you'll be using to take care of the seemingly endless zombies that stand between you and, well everything that you need to do in the game basically. Pretty much every object that you come across can be used to damage the undead, but in this instalment of the series maintenance areas are open to you, where with the help of a simple bit of ductape and a handy workbench you can take a couple of items and merge them together to form the vastly superior combo weapons that have the added bonus of awarding you with extra PP per kill. The functionality of these weapons ranges from the downright messy to purely humorous, and my favourites so far would have to be the tenderizers (MMA gloves plus a box of nails) and the aptly named defiler (a sledgehammer plus a fireaxe).
Ok, lets take a quick bit of time out to talk about Fortune City and its ghastly inhabitants. The environment is definitely larger, with a much greater range of shops and activities for you to carry out when you need a bit of break from causing carnage. One of my favourite new additions in Dead Rising 2 is the chance to deck Chuck out in various outfits that you come across on your travels, as you get to customise the chiseled hero depending on your tastes. This allows you to differentiate between your friends' characters when they join you for a bit of co-op, for instance I opted for a set of bloody blue coveralls like Michael Myers, whereas one of my friends was decked out in SWAT gear when he sauntered into my game to bust some heads. The mini-games that are included in the casinos can be pretty good fun and provide you with the chance to get hold of money, which is crucial to completing some parts of the game. There are also a phenomenal amount of zombies plodding around and it'd definitely be a challenge to squeeze them all into Willamette mall, in fact you'd probably easily have enough to fill the original game's environments with enough left over to overrun a small town. Also, on a lighter note, Fortune City has been somewhat 'sexed up', so you can expect to find numerous Playboy posters littered around, as well as scantily glad, well endowed female survivors and zombies.
Unfortunately, the city also happens to be one of the most disappointing things about the game in my opinion. The trailers for the game and especially Case Zero, seemed to indicate that Fortune City was going to be a massive environment similar to those seen in Grand Theft Auto 4 or Red Dead Redemption. However during the course of the game, I couldn't help but feel like I was trapped inside another enclosed space, albeit a far bigger one, but one that was still very similar to Willamette mall.
In my opinion the best way to take on the single player is to initially have a bit of fun, don't worry about the cases instead focus on working out the best ways to deal with the different enemies, rescue as many survivors as you can, and generally try to earn as much PP as possible in order to level up as quickly as you can. Once you feel like you've got to an acceptable level, then you can start working out the truth behind the outbreak without having to worry if you're going to die within the first few hours of stepping outside the safe house.
One of the reasons that I got so worked up about Dead Rising 2 was the inclusion of co-op and online multiplayer, both of which add something extra to the overall experience. Unfortunately, they do initially irritate you rather than bringing you joy. For instance, the co-op mode is incredibly picky when you first start to try and include a friend in your antics, and you'll need to make sure that you've both downloaded the correct DLC packs in order to jump into each others games. The online multiplayer is presented in a format similar to American Gladiators, during which you play several games that all centre around killing everybody's favourite intellectually challenged reanimated humans. Sadly, there's not much to tell you how to play the different mini-games, so you'll spend the first few rounds scoring very poorly as you stumble around trying to work out what's going on. However, once you've discovered your objective the multiplayer is a barrel of action-packed laughs.
- The combo weapons are awesome
- Co-op is a blast
- There's quite a lot to do
- The game loads pretty slowly
- It's initially very unclear as to what you have to do in the multiplayer
- The environments aren't as open world as you'd expect
The Short Version: Dead Rising 2 is definitely superior to the original and you can not only have a great time messing around in Fortune City, but you can also set yourself a variety of pretty tricky tasks to complete. Sadly, the environments aren't quite as open world as I would have liked, but I think that's a very minor fault in an otherwise fantastic game. Prepare yourself for lots and lots of zombie related carnage!