I love zombies and, while some might complain about their becoming clichéd and overused, I relish their every appearance, no matter the game, film, or book. As you can expect, I was fairly excited for Dead Rising 2. A zombie game utterly devoted to the realization of the zombie horde, and on the PS3 no less. Having just recently purchased an Xbox 360, the joys of multiplatform status are fairly null to me, but it’s still nice to think that gamers only possessing Sony's black box will be able to partake in some good ol' fashioned zombie slaying.
Newcomers to the series will be happy to know that Dead Rising 2 requires no knowledge of the first game to play and enjoy. Some small details do arise from the original, and are woefully unexplained for new fans, but they do little to hamper the story.
The game follows Chuck Greene, a former motocross star who now makes a living (or killing, nyuck nyuck) as a contestant in the pay-per-view game show centered around slaying the shambling dead. Unfortunately, an outbreak occurs during one of the games and Chuck soon enough finds himself trapped in a city teeming with the undead. Stuck with him is his young daughter, Katey, who is already infected with the deadly virus and needs daily injections of the pricey suppressor Zombrex to remain among the living.
Fortune City is a massive playground of carnage teeming with weapons to experiment with.
And even if it is nice to have a reason to kill the zombies of Fortune City, you hardly need one. Fortune City on its own is a massive playground of carnage teeming with weapons to experiment with, and thousands of the undead to experiment on. It's rare to find any area of Fortune City not teaming with ghouls. You'll very frequently enter a place and wonder, "How the heck am I going to get through here?"
Luckily, most everything in the game can be used as a weapon. From baseball bats and chainsaws, to beach umbrellas and vibrat- . . . I mean, women's massagers, the options abound. Expanding on your arsenal are dozens of combo cards which can be used to piece together every day items into tools of destruction. Some of these are earned by leveling up, while others have to be found around the city, providing another excuse for exploration.
Unfortunately, the actual single-player campaign at the center of this world is often unnecessarily frustrating. The original Dead Rising was built around a strict time system, something continued here. Missions have to be completed within a certain time frame. If you fail to complete said missions within that period, they become unavailable and the game sometimes unbeatable. On the one hand, the clock constantly ticking does up the suspense in a unique way. There were many times where I completed a mission just in the nick of time and the resulting adrenaline rush left my heart racing. That said, it more often drifts into frustration than fun.
Dead Rising 2 was clearly built to be a sandbox game and is at its best when treated as such. The story campaign turns its size and capacity for exploration into a liability, literally punishing you if you stray off path for more than a few minutes. If you want to explore, your only real options are to just ignore the story game, effectively and irreparably losing, or to beat it and then return to play in "overtime" mode. Had the developers opted to employ a more traditional mission structure, the game would have been a much more enjoyable. As it stands, it's flawed.
Dead Rising 2 also includes a multiplayer mode where you can compete with other players for cash that can be spent in the solo game. What this amounts to is a bunch of mini games that sadly rely more on luck than skill. The multiplayer is entertaining in limited spurts, but loses its luster fairly quickly. That's unfortunate, because if executed better it could have been a nice accompaniment to the main game. As it stands, it's an amusing distraction at best.
With so many enemies on screen, one might think the graphics would take a hit, but the game maintains a fairly attractive visual standard. Your enemies and environments are detailed and pleasant to look at. The environments could have used a little more diversity, but this is a middling complaint and the limited venues are a natural part of the game being based in a mall/casino complex. The sound, by comparison, is adequate but never really impressing. The voice acting is at least good, but the remainder of the sound effects and music never exceeds average.
Zombies are just about everywhere these days, yet games like Dead Rising 2 prove that there is plenty of life left to squeeze out of the undead. While imperfect, the game is still hours of fun and is an excellent choice for any gamers looking for some straightforward, no-frills action.