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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: Dead Rising 2

 The original Xbox 360 zombie game is back in the form of Dead Rising 2. If you haven’t played this early hit for the Xbox 360, it was an enjoyable, though slightly tedious, zombie slaughter in which you defend yourself from the undead with whatever object was within arm’s reach, no matter how ridiculous. Dead Rising 2 is from the same mold, and is in many ways an improved version of the original. What’s important is that the mechanics of the game are pretty much the same and there is still the race-against-time component that some people will enjoy and others will not.

Dead Rising 2 has a very conventional zombie-based plot. Your area has been entirely zombiefied and you need to survive until the military arrives in 72 hours. Since you quickly find shelter you’d thing this would make for nothing more than a boring three days, but no. As super survivor Chuck Green you need to find Zombrex to stave off your daughter’s zombie-infection while clearing your besmirched name. You were accused of being the saboteur who released the zombies from their game-show imprisonment, which means you need to clear your name before the military shows up.

Dead Rising uses slow, stupid zombies that are basically just bags of meat that you dispose of. They are dangerous in swarms and there are a lot of them, but they aren’t very motivated so most ignore the living until a person gets within grabbing distance. For his part Chuck must run around the town completing tasks, like finding Zombrex. He can tirelessly (literally) kill zombies, thus gaining experience and leveling up, but as fun as this is you need to keep an eye on the clock. That means you can’t just hang around hitting zombies with spiked bats and drill buckets (don’t ask).


The game uses a distorted physics system that makes Chuck’s situation just about survivable. When he attacks with a baseball bat he swings right through the zombies around him, as if they were weightless, decomposing balloons. Anything within his swing’s arch will be taken down, though not necessarily killed. Minor details likes distance to the target don’t really matter and there is no consideration of momentum, which would make it impossible to drive a motorcycle through a crowd of zombies. But dealing with the living dead requires some suspension of disbelief so taking that one step further, and giving Chuck a chance against a swarm of zombies when he has nothing more than a fireman’s axe, isn’t so hard.The most impressive part about the game is the weapons. That is to say the objects scattered around the world, because almost everything can be used as a weapon. You can defend yourself with serving trays, firecrackers, waterguns, house plants, lead pipes, aluminum bats, rubber pylons, bowie knives, clothes hangers, plates, propane tanks, push brooms, and much more. The key is that the world has a lot of pickups, so there are always a few potential weapons lying about.
The thing to keep in mind is that the effectiveness of the weapons varies greatly–a wooden bat is a solid enough choice, but it mainly knock zombies down, as opposed to killing them. Switch over to a chainsaw or machete and with the same attacks you’re killing zombies, preventing them from surrounding you after they get up. Plus you are racking up experience points, which come from killing a zombie.




The big new addition to the game is item combining. This is allows you to create powerful hybrid weapons that give you a ton of experience. The most basic is the spiked bat, a combination of nails and a wooden bat, but they get increasingly crazy from there. This aspect of the game is fun, but the combination system isn’t as robust as you might expect, and not everything can be combined. As you level up you earn combo cards though, and these give you the instructions for building your next tool of destruction. This isn’t perfect, but is definitely one of the best parts of the game because the DIY weapons are awesome.
Past what’s mentioned above, Dead Rising 2 is largely about following an arrow at the top of the screen and completing your next task before the timer runs out. I found the map to be very difficult to use, so I didn’t tend to explore much, plus I was constantly worried about time, so I felt compelled to stick to my main goals without any delay. The game builds in some extra time for playing and rescuing survivors but to do that you’ll have to keep your mind off that ticking timer. This might be better for a second playthrough, when you have a better concept of the time you need to complete the main goals.
When playing the game you’ll die a few times. You can save your game at any bathroom, which means somewhat regularly, but not as much as you’d probably like. When you die you’ll have the option of restarting from the last save (a bit of a pain, but nothing terrible) or restarting the game with all the experience and upgrades you’ve accrued. The latter is a compelling option if you’re having trouble because it means you’ll start the game with some great weapon formulas as well as extra power and health. It’s a pretty tough game, so this is a worthwhile tactic.

All the other stuff–like characters, sound, and visuals–are pretty lackluster. They are good enough that they didn’t hurt my experience, but at no point was I wowed by any of them. Dead Rising 2 is about killing thousands of zombies and, more importantly, the mechanics that allow something so repetitive to stay fun. I found this amusing enough so long as the game kept progressing but when I died and had to do a section over or I hit a point of the game that I didn’t particularly like, it was a slog. That’s just me though–I could see people relishing the aspects of the game that I found tiring (like mini boss battles) and exploring a ton, finding some awesome weapons (the game has guns and dynamite, not just hand tools), saving all the survivors, and playing on once the main story is over.
Don’t forget that DR2 has online co-op and multiplayer. There is drop-in/drop-out multiplayer if a friend wants to help you out without furthering their own game as well as a versus mode based on the Terror is Reality gameshow. I wasn’t overly impressed with either, but they are ways to add playtime to an already considerable game experience.
Some quick notes before we wrap up… Remember that you can restart the game without losing your experience. This is something you’ll probably want to take advantage of as the game can be pretty brutal if you don’t. With my chronic fear of being late I constantly checked the clock, but you might want to play for a few hours, learn the world, and then restart. It’s a better way to experience the game. If you already got this introduction in Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (the $5 demo of the game) you might not be as interested. Finally, the game has a lot of loading, so if this drives you nuts, I’d steer clear because there is a few seconds of downtime every few minutes, as well as some framerate issues when the screen gets really packed with zombies.

Dead Rising 2 has some minor problems, but overall it’s a very good game. Some people might be putting a lot of hours into the title (especially if you want the achievements) while others will get the majority of their fun out of it with just a few hours of play. DR2 stayed true to the original but brings some nice improvements, making for a successful sequel and a game that is definitely worth trying out.

24 comments:

Swift Love said...

this looks like a game I would enjoy

Longkid said...

Awesome review!

Fuuuuuuuu said...

these ideas are going to inspire my next GTL Everyday post... stay tuned

lovebloggin said...

every review of this game that i see make it look more and more fun

amidoinitrite? said...

I like what you said here... btw, I have new bubbles on Enhanced by MS Paint :)

MacPCharmony said...

I like the layout you used on this blog :)

Igloo said...

zombie games ftw!!

likethat? said...

wow this is really in depth, gonna check the gam out fa sho

-ITW- said...

looking forward to this game for suuuure, I rememgber playing the first one and thought it was fun as hell for an offline game. Few of a kind.

swizzfor said...

DR2 is pretty entertaining

:)

Jackie said...

Awesome stuff, keep it up Bro !

Ishu said...

Thank you for the review! Now that I know that there is a clock in this too...I might just rent it, not buy it. Sorry But for me a clock does not allow to enjoy a game story fully xD

Max Steel said...

Love your review the duct tape mechanic looks badass

AdmiralAngel said...

Loved the first game
Been waiting for DR2 the moment I heard about it.
Nice Review!

Kevorkian said...

Awesome game.

Fuuuuuuuu said...

nice, I can't wait to see what you have to say in your next post

gypsycore said...

Wow, this game looks amazing.

Wish I had something a little more powerful than a Wii

amidoinitrite? said...

nice work here... btw, I have Hayden Panetierre bubbled on Enhanced by MS Paint :P

Home Alone Stoned said...

looks like a fun game

The Music Dude 23 said...

such a good game!

Swift Love said...

awesome, I have to agree here!

MacPCharmony said...

Thanks for the comments on my last blog post!

The Greater Spartan said...

Great review mine is pretty sick too 1

Randy Weezner said...

man this one looks a thousand times better than that fag frank in the first

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