Dead Rising was an interesting concept from Capcom. Featuring hundreds of zombies, a wide variety of weapons and a camera happy protagonist the game was a breath of fresh air and showed the true processing power of the Xbox 360 in Microsoft’s early days. However the game featured numerous frustrating features such as a very limited save system, a non-friendly approach to HDTV-less gamers and a lack of multitasking when it came to talking on the receiver and attacking.
So here we are with Dead Rising 2, a brand new developer has taken the reigns, a new main character has been thrown into the mix and Dead Rising 2 promises to be a bigger, better version of its predecessor. But can it live up to the hype? Or does the latest build just leave us cowering in the corner expecting to be mauled to death by the vying zombies of Fortune City as the game falls into the sequel horror genre?
Taking the role of Motocross champion Chuck Greene, you arrive in the glitzy and glamourous fictitious gambling town of Fortune City, read Las Vegas, to compete in the sadistic games show “Terror Is Reality”. However after a sabotage on the zombie holding pen the whole of Fortune City has been over-ran by thousands of zombies. It’s down to Chuck and a strong selection of eccentric characters that you meet along the way to survive for three days until the military can come and rescue the straggling survivors.
After Chuck is framed for the sabotage you soon stumble upon Channel 6 reporter Rebecca Chang who is adamant of uncovering the truth of the Fortune City outbreak. The sassy reporter is willing to go to any lengths to get the story and the sexual chemistry between Rebecca and Chuck is obvious from the moment they meet. But at a time like this when can you think about getting the journalist in bed when you have a zombie outbreak?
The cast of characters continues to grow throughout the game as you rescue members of the public and while some of the characters will just be grateful to be alive, others will vow to help you find out what has happened before the 72 hours runs out. Whether they can all be trusted is another thing though but when there is a small contingent of the living and a mass horde of zombies you’re going to need all the help you can get.
One of the other main characters is Stacey the leader of the CURE, to the less educated it stands for Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality, she also seems to take a keen interest in Chuck, as well as his infected daughter Katey. A previous zombie attack has left Katey needing the medication Zombrex every 24 hours to prevent her turning into one of the walking dead. Throughout the game you see the true lengths a father is prepared to go for his daughter’s life including taking on a gang of looters in the pharmacy after they reject Chuck’s request for one vial of Zombrex. However, to find this precious and valuable medication you’re going to have to search high and wide throughout Fortune City.
But that’s not going to be an easy feat especially with Fortune City being so huge; despite my best efforts I still failed to explore every square inch of the map but I can assure you the variety in locations is impressive. Obviously there will be the casinos that provide the backbone to this busy and infested world however that’s not all. Expect to be exploring a construction site, taking refuge inside the Fortune City Hotel and also battling waves upon waves of zombies in not one, but two shopping malls.
As if you didn’t have enough fun in the malls during the first Dead Rising, Capcom has decided to up the ante for the scale of this game and create a mall almost the same size of the original game as just one of the zones for the game. Expect a huge array of shops to explore and I would be here all day if I tried to include them all in this preview, but expect to see kitchen utensil suppliers, sport shops, jewellers and even the ludicrous hat shops.
Each shop offers players the opportunity to stock up on weapons, snacks or even change Chuck’s attire to the most silly outfits including a Street Fighter Blanka mask. These little cameos continue to pop-up throughout the game including Katey playing Megaman on a handheld console suspiciously looking like a PSP, while posters of Playboy Issues litter the casino walls as the lovely playmates create a quick distraction for you as you decapitate the hundredth zombie in a row.
Rest Rooms are also scattered throughout the world, these count as your save points within the game and Dead Rising 2 takes the same route that frustrated numerous players of the original. The game doesn’t have an auto-save feature, you have to manually find your way to these restrooms to save your progress otherwise all that exploration you’ve just spent an hour doing is going to be worth nothing. The lack of an auto save is one that baffles me, too many times I turned off the console in anger after having to restart the mission yet again. It wouldn’t have been too bad if the loading times weren’t so long and frequent. More on that after the break.
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In this preview build load times plagued the screen more times than the action, Capcom assured us it was being addressed before the game went gold, but for every cutscene or zone we have to sit through a screen giving us tips and hints on the game as it brings up the next sequence. If they sped up the load times they wouldn’t be so problematic but at the current time you can’t help but sit and twiddle your thumbs as you watch a loading screen for a minute then view a 2 minute cutscene closely followed by another minute long load screen.
The easy solution for Capcom would’ve been to auto save the game as you enter a brand new zone, it would save having to sit through another lengthy loading sequence in boredom as you embark on the same pathways, heading towards the same objective for a fifth time, trying to remember exactly where all those handy weapons are.
Taking its predecessor’s mechanic of, ‘if you can think of it as a weapon you can probably use it’, Dead Rising 2 adds a huge variety of wacky weapons to use at your whim. The Bow and Arrow, Tomahawk, Steel Baseball Bat and Bowling Ball were my personal favourites and all have their own unique uses and attacks. Normally weapons will come with three attacks, a quick press of the X button will unleash a light handed attack while holding the X button will deliver a strong killing blow to the unfortunate sap at the other end.
The final attack is the ranged attack, most weapons can be thrown with a variety of outcomes. The fire axe for example, can be slung over your head using two hands and watching it catapult into the skull of a zombie is nothing short of down-right satisfying. Not all weapons are used to kill, the dustbin isn’t really used as a instrument of death, but rather can be launched into a group of zombies to momentarily halt there movement. Obviously weapons such as the Bow and Arrow only have the one attack while the bowling ball can either be used as skull crushing weapon or as its literal use and bowled down to knock over zombies, believe me I’ve tried to get a strike countless times.
Sometimes it can be fiddly trying to pick up an item off the floor, on occasions the game doesn’t recognise you’re standing next to the item and you have to readjust yourself until the game gives you the opportunity to pick up the item. But with the variety of weapons on offer in such a small vicinity you’re not going to really worry about one specific weapon. That is unless you’re trying to create a combo weapon.
Combo weapons are introduced to Dead Rising 2 with devastating affect. Levelling up Chuck by killing zombies, rescuing survivors and completing missions will reward you with special weapon cards. These cards allow Chuck to combine numerous weapons together to create these special super-duper zombie killing weapons…I think I hyped that up a little too much. The first weapon at your disposal is the baseball bat covered in nails, this spikey batter can provide massive damage to a group of zombies or holding the X button will result in a specific attack to a singular zombie which sticks your new spikey bat into the skull of a zombie and then Chuck rips it out in a shower of blood. Other weapons of choice have included the IED where you can rip apart a room of zombies with the explosion of a gas canister and a box of nails while my personal favourite has to be the Knife Gloves which equips Chuck with Knife laden boxing gloves and then allows you to set your sights on the groups of zombies for some true close-combat action.
As well as the weapons, snacks and books once again return offering Chuck an easy way of replenishing health. The books can teach Chuck numerous stat improvements including extra damage to zombies, more health being replenished when eating or drinking snacks and even improving the overall health of Chuck. You must figure out the right balance between equipping enough weapons to tackle the zombies throughout Fortune City and carrying enough food to stay alive while doing it.
And you’re not going to be tackling all the same zombies throughout the malls, casinos and construction sites. The population of the undead come in a variety of colours, sizes and genders with each zombie having different characteristics to make them all feel unique. Some zombies are going to be tougher than others to take down, others will be quicker meaning your will have to divert your attention to them unless you want to become one of them. Expect to see fat zombies, police officer zombies who will fire off the odd shot in a random direction, even zombies that have a hunch and slowly amble towards you. While hundreds could be on the screen at once you’re going to get that feeling that each zombie is their own but that isn’t going to stop you from massacring them all in a variety of entertaining and sadistic ways.
Overall at the moment Dead Rising 2 feels like much of the same, which isn’t a bad thing. Even down to the receiver that Chuck uses to communicate to the cast and the ventilation duct that he transports from the safe house to the streets of Fortune City, a lot of the game feels like a ‘been there done that’ affair. Sure, there are additions like the ability to combo weapons together to create some truly unique weapons of mass destruction but overall you can’t help but feel they have just taken Dead Rising 1 and put it in a brand new location. Don’t get me wrong though at the moment I’m loving the game, it’s just I wanted to see something a bit new and innovative.
However this could be introduced with the Co-op play, which gives you and a friend the chance to tackle Fortune City together. Expect the number of zombies to amplify but as you can imagine it gives gamers a huge scale for tackling in numbers as you explore Fortune City. All that Capcom has to do is fix those lengthy load-screens and introduce a much more forgiving auto-save feature and the team could be onto another Zombie-based winner.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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