When Dead Rising came out in 2006, it put an interesting spin on a not so original idea. You played as Frank West who was a photojournalist who dropped into the Willamette Parkview Mall in order to get the scoop of a lifetime to cover the zombie outbreak. The game featured a time mechanic that required you to stay on your toes during your time in the Willamette Parkview Mall as certain events or rescues could only occur within a certain time limit. All the while, you’d have to fight through a nearly infinite number of zombies.
Dead Rising 2 might have a new character to play as in a new location, but the game has a serious case of dejavu. Is it the kind of dejavu players will enjoy or will it be a pleasant reminder of what made the original Dead Rising so much fun to play?
Dead Rising 2 takes place 5 years after the events of Dead Rising as players assume the role of Motocross Legend, Chuck Greene. Chuck is caught in the middle of a zombie outbreak that takes place after his performance in an American Gladiators style TV show called Terror is Reality. Chuck ends up being the one to blame for the outbreak, which he swears to prove his innocence. Not only does Chuck need to clear his name, but he also needs to take care of his daughter who was previously bitten by a zombie. The only thing that keeps her from turning into a zombie is an experimental drug called Zombrex which needs to be administered every 24 hours. Throw in a number of outbreak survivors that need to be rescued, and you can see that Chuck certainly has his plate full in Dead Rising 2.
If you’ve played Dead Rising, then you’ll be right at home in Dead Rising 2. Much of the game’s controls, gameplay mechanics, and timeline storytelling have been left unchanged. Chuck can use nearly anything in the game as a weapon. If you can lift it, it can be used to beat, slice, or blow up the horde of zombies littered across nearly every portion of the game. When you first start the game, you can’t help but to experiment with a number of weapons to kill zombies with, but you’ll soon learn of the availability of combo weapons that can be duct taped together in Maintenance Rooms. When you enter a maintenance room, Chuck can bring various items in order to combine them. When items are combined, Chuck’s new weapon will be saved as a combo card which can be used as a reference tool to create that weapon combination again in the future. As I continued learning of new weapon combinations, I started to prefer these weapons over regular weapons. If I knew I was heading out for a mission, I would stock up on a number of my favorite combined weapons to prepare myself. The only time I’d revert to normal weapons is when I had absolutely no other choice as my combined weapons had all broken. Another benefit of combined weapons is to give Chuck bonus PP.
PP serves as Dead Rising 2’s experience points. As you rescue survivors, murder zombies, or perform other worthwhile tasks in the game, you’ll obtain PP. As Chuck levels up, he’ll be given predetermined upgrades which include increased health, increased inventory slots, new combat moves, as well as new combo cards. Combo cards can also be obtained by searching for them in hidden spots all over Fortune City as well as defeating Psychopaths.
Psychopaths are people who have become mentally unstable due to the zombie outbreak and need to be dealt with before they harm anyone, or in certain situations, anyone else. Each psychopath has their own reason as to why they’ve become unstable and they add some variety as they’re a lot more difficult than your average zombies. Psychopaths are also downright entertaining as some of them have turned psychotic for honorable reasons, such as losing a loved one, to the absurd, such as fearing to die as a virgin. Some psychopaths will attack you with ranged weapons, close-range weapons, or a combination of both. Before attempting to combat any psychopaths, it’s recommended you save your game since each psychopath has their own strategy as how best to deal with them.
If you didn’t like the save point system in Dead Rising, then you still won’t enjoy it in Dead Rising 2 as there still aren’t any autosave options. The only way you can save is by visiting restrooms in certain locations in Fortune City. I still feel torn whether this is a good or bad game mechanic as the game becomes more challenging as you feel you need to continually visit restrooms every chance you get in case you die by the hands of a random zombie or a psycho. On the other hand, it slows down the pace of the game as you can be in the middle of some serious zombie slaying, but you need to escape from it whenever you see a restroom. It can also become frustrating if you forget to visit a restroom for a while to only realize it when you’re dead and have to load from a save point that is 5 hours behind all the progress you made during your current session.
In the original Dead Rising, zombies became more aggressive and powerful after 7 P.M. This still rings true in Dead Rising 2, which can pose as a challenge when Chuck attempts to rescue any survivors between 7 P.M. and 7 A.M. as zombies can attack survivors that are following Chuck. Later on in the game, the zombies will mutate into an even more aggressive and powerful breed of zombie. These new zombies don’t go down as easy as most zombies, plus they’re more agile and tend to swarm around Chuck. This definitely adds to the game’s difficulty in later stages of the game and requires you to do some serious butt kicking.
Dead Rising 2 brings online multiplayer components for the first time in the Dead Rising series. The first thing players can partake in is online drop-in / drop-out co-op. You can set your game to allow anyone to connect, to friends, or you can completely turn off the feature to enjoy some peaceful zombie slaying on your own. When a player connects, the game can be quite fun as you and your co-op partner can mess around and have fun slaying zombies together. If you’re more of the type who enjoys taking down your opponents in an American Gladiators style, then the online multiplayer component called “Terror is Reality” is where you need to be. Terror is Reality pits four players against one another to battle for a cash prize, which can be transferred to the campaign. The gametypes in Terror is Reality vary and are completely random, but each game ends in a final game of “Slicecycles”, where each player rides a motorcycle equipped with chainsaws to mow down zombies to gain points. After all of the rounds are completed, points are tallied and a winner is chosen.
FINAL THOUGHT: Dead Rising 2 improves on an already impressive zombie-slaying time management game. The addition of combination weapons along with co-op and multiplayer modes makes it even more appealing to fans of the original game. Throw in a story of a man who risks his life on a regular basis in order to save his daughter, and you have a game that cannot be missed.