After over four years since the release of the original Dead Rising, its sequel has arrived in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas, Nevada. Right off the bat in Dead Rising 2, you’re thrown into a world where zombies have established themselves among us and we’re shown the after effects of their presence. Throughout the game you play as Chuck Greene, a former motocross champion who participates in a zombie killing game show called “Terror Is Reality” in order to raise enough funds to administer his zombie infected daughter with an expensive medicine known as Zombrex. Although Chuck Greene himself would rather not kill zombies for a living, Zombrex is only a suppressant and needs to be taken daily. Not only daily, but at a specific hour. Talk about time constraints.
Also in this post-apocalyptic world are post-apocalyptic protests groups. The “Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality (CURE)” believe that “Terror Is Reality” is a mistreatment of the sick, and Chuck Greene is caught in the middle of conflicting sides. Soon after being introduced to the world of Chuck Greene, an infestation of zombies occurs in the fictional luxury resort, Fortune City. Chuck is left trapped and has the help of the military arriving in 3 days, an infected daughter, and a handful of other folk trying to figure out how the zombie attack could have occurred. This sets the stage for the premise and rationale of the game.
Even though Chuck Greene and his daughter make it to the safe area shortly after the zombie breach, Chuck throws himself into the zombie-ridden Fortune City in order to get his daughter Zombrex every 24 hours. This is where the fun begins. If you’re familiar with the Dead Rising formula, then this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. You make your way through crowds of blood-thirsty zombies and you fight them off by picking up whatever you can find along the way. You can pick up weapons that range from very lethal to those that are utterly useless, but fun nonetheless. Example of a lethal weapon: Broad sword. Example of a not-so-lethal weapon: Bottle of ketchup. Sure squirting ketchup may not kill the zombies, but I’m thankful that I have the freedom to do so.
I know it sounds like it, but it’s not just mindless zombie killing. As you slice ‘n’ dice through zombies, you’re also earning PP to level up. Leveling up will boosts your health, ability to hold more weapons at once, speed, and arsenal of moves. This helps immensely when taking on bosses and sub-bosses. Speaking of bosses, they are as deranged as they come. It’s always fun to meet one of them, but make sure you save before battle. That’s right; the game’s saving system is based on save points. After a long session, make sure you don’t die before saving, because you will be forced to go back to your last save point. It’s annoying but it’s not too bad. The game prompts you to save after important moments and there are several save points (disguised as bathrooms) scattered throughout the game.
Something new to the series are combo weapons. This further encourages the creativity of the player by experimenting with the combination of whatever objects they can get their hands on. One example is that you can combine a wheelchair with a lawnmower and mow down zombies like a mobile meat grinder. It’s a lot of fun to do this, but there is more than fun to be offered as an incentive to create unique weapons. These combo weapons offer longer-lasting and stronger weaponry, as well as a means to help gather more PP. Finding cards and magazines along your journey will also help in the PP department, so looking out for those is of the player’s best interest.
As you wait for the time to come for Chuck Greene to deliver Zombrex to his daughter, there are several timed quest that can be done. Most of the side quests require the escorting of helpless victims back to the safe area, but they’re worth doing because the completion of these quests give a lot of PP. Escorting isn’t too much of a hassle unlike most games. The computer controlled escorts fight and can sometimes even be carried in Chuck’s arms. Also, as you wait for Zombrex hour, the story is developing through various cutscenes. These cutscenes are as cheesy as every zombie movie out there, and the voice acting is usually hit or miss.
Dead Rising 2 is overall a really fun game, but that’s not to say there aren’t issues with it. In fact, there are several hiccups along the way. For a game that is in third person, the camera is uncomfortably close to Chuck. I don’t know if it was a design choice to have a more claustrophobic atmosphere or if this was just all they had to work with, but what I do know is that I didn’t like it. Frame rate dips occur and do break up the experience, but loading screens break it up even more. Every time you move to a new area or trigger a cutscene, you have to sit through a lengthy loading screen. They become dreadful.
The game does include a co-op mode which is exactly what you would expect from a game like this, but it might be best to avoid this if you and a friend don’t start at the same time. You can help each other out, but your friend may not be where you are in the story. There are also multi-player mini-games that take place on hit game show “Terror Is Reality.” Killing zombies competitively offers its unique fun, but Dead Rising 2 isn’t here for our multi-player needs. If you find yourself bored with friends, this is definitely not something that will come to mind among your friends too often.
Killing zombies has never been so satisfying, but being a sequel to one of the earlier hits of this generation, you would think Dead Rising 2 would be light-years ahead of the original. Instead, we get a good game that lacks the polish of a blockbuster sequel. Even a good game means disappointment for a sequel that should have been so much more.