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Dead Rising 2 Review

Dead Rising 2 pack shot
Developer:Blue Castle Games
Publisher:Capcom
Genre:Third Person Action
Platform:Playstation 3
Official Site:http://www.deadrising-2.com/
Release Date:September 24th, 2010 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
 

Wesker, Jill and Chris? Francis, Bill and Zoe? Coach, Nick and Ellis? Wimps. There is only Chuck.

Everybody loved Dead Rising. Its combination of zombie slaughtering, intriguing plot and shop-till-you-drop variety made the game incredibly replayable, and the odd draw of taking bloodthirsty photos of crowds of slavering zombies with your camera made for an entertaining romp.

So, to the bad news: no camera. And the good news? Everything else kicks ass. Yes, it's Dead Rising 2, the next chapter in Capcom's zombie-infested slash-em-up series, and boy is it a whole lot of fun.

It's been five years since the mall outbreak, and knowledge of the 'mobile deceased' has become widespread. Recently infected humans are quarantined and left to die, and wonder drug Zombrex keeps those bitten from joining the ranks of the undead.

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The poor, shuffling fools are even used as fodder for cheap entertainment shows - being crushed by the hundred in Gladiators-style events involving massive metal balls and motocross bikes with chainsaws for handlebars.

Our titular hero, Chuck Greene, is a competitor on one of these controversial shows - Terror is Reality (TIR) - and gleefully massacres the undead to pay for his daughter's regular doses of Zombrex, lest little Katey develop a taste for brains.

The show's latest incarnation: "TIR XVII: Payback!" Brings Chuck and his competitors to Fortune City (basically a smaller Las Vegas), where, far from a gamblers paradise, an explosion, a power cut and a sudden outbreak of shuffling horrors finds Chuck in the fight for his life - and framed for the deluge of necrotic monsters.

He's given a baseball bat, a handful of nails, and 72 hours to clear his name. Thankfully, the twisted plot manages to make that 72 hours as intense and often surprising as possible.

Gameplay-wise, Dead Rising 2 is not that different to the series' first incarnation. The player can interact with, wear or hurl at zombies just about anything in the environment, from raiding a gun shop for a sniper rifle to throwing custard pies as not-very-deadly self defence.

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Over the course of the game Chuck will receive various objectives to complete, most of which only have a certain amount of time to be dealt with. The game itself is played in real time - if you're busy raiding clothes stores looking for some snazzy duds and you simply don't make it to the other side of the city in time for a mission, the mission vanishes.

This time limit keeps the game running apace, as well as encouraging second or even third run-throughs, as you're unlikely to see, do or slaughter everything the first time. The ubiquitous psychopaths also make a (perhaps unwelcome) return, ranging from a skate-mounted, flamethrower-wielding nutter to one of Chuck's ex-competitors, who's bent on finishing the job.

Survivors are also still in abundance, and if you manage to get them back to the safe room (quite a task in itself), then the payoff in experience points is well worth it. Thankfully the survivors are also a little smarter now, and can handle themselves in a crowd of zombies - which, thanks to the graphics engine, can number up to 7,000 in one go.

If you get bored of completing missions and rescuing survivors, Chuck can always go exploring - Fortune City is a vast metropolis of casinos, shops and plazas, and there's a heck of a lot to see, do, or embed in a zombie's face.

The plucky athlete can wear any bit of clothing you stumble across, carry just about every random household item and, most importantly, he's a dab hand with some duct tape, Chuck Greene is something of an inventor.

Imagine if you will, a wheelchair. While not much use on its own, combine it with a pair of machine guns strapped to its arms and what do you have? The Blitzkrieg. What about an American football? Sure, it might knock a zombie over if you get the throw right, but it's fairly boring. How about an American football with a couple of grenades strapped to it? The Hail Mary - the most fun you can have playing American football.

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The key to this wonderful variety of death-dealing murder-spinners is the combo card system. While it isn't possible to combine everything, the huge variety of combos available makes the game a tremendous amount of fun, and though the weapons you knock up do eventually break, there's always some new combo to try out just waiting to be found.

Personally I favoured the Electric Chair - a wheelchair with a battery strapped to it, a ridiculous combination of a fire axe and a sledgehammer and a rather strange, deadly combination of a hoe and a shotgun (stab zombie, lift into air, pull trigger - nasty). All this experimentation and slaughter is used to upgrade Chuck's core abilities, so the slightly weedy man who starts the game scavenging for Zombrex will quickly evolve into the bane of zombies everywhere.

Specially-mixed smoothies can further enhance his abilities, and finding magazines and books can top off his skills with boosters - ideal for that irritating boss fight you keep losing.

The downside to all this depravity and fun is the shoddy control system, which is often awkward, difficult to master and slow to respond, with Chuck swinging his improvised weapons too slowly at times, and this makes button-pushing minigames all the more irritating. That said, if you find yourself really struggling, you can get a friend to drop in for some co-op zombie bashing.

Though the other player just appears as a second Chuck, with no rhyme or reason, having a friend along makes the game a heck of a lot of fun, but it is irritating that you can't wander off completely, and are instead shackled to each other, sharing a screen. And, if you get bored of tramping around Fortune City, you can even nip online and play some competitive multiplayer, taking on your opponents in TIR and trying to wipe out as many zombies as possible in a series of competitive minigames.

While fun, the multiplayer section feels sadly underused, and provides only a short distraction from the murderous pleasure of the singleplayer campaign. Graphically the game is a visual spectacle, but hardly sets the bar for high definition. The need to fill the screen with zombies negates the need for sharp textures, and the game gets by painting everything in claret anyway.

The sound is pretty good. The accents are believable, with just an edge of B-movie dialogue, and since whatever you've got Chuck wearing is used in the cutscenes, it can lead to unexpected hilarity when the blood-smeared character has a serious conversation with a bad guy while wearing a pair of sparkly leather shorts, a ladies tank top - and a gorilla mask.

Summary

If you enjoyed the first Dead Rising, you're bound to enjoy the simple, cathartic action of Dead Rising 2. The plot is thrilling, the action intense and the variety seemingly never-ending and, provided you can put up with the odd controls and occasional annoying boss, there's a lot to enjoy here.

The bottom line
8.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Great combo weapons
  • High replayability
  • Generally great fun

Not so good stuff

  • Dodgy controls
  • Dull online multiplayer
  • Hammy acting is often over-the-top


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