Oct 13

Game Review: Dead Rising 2 (360, PS3, PC)

Zombies are awesome. Any situation you can think of can be made better with zombies in the mix. The popularity of zombies has only gotten bigger to the point where a common belief is that there will be a zombie apocalypse one day. Preposterous as this actually is, it has brought about some cool movies and games. One such game is Dead Rising. An early 360 game that had it’s fair share of awesomeness with a few set backs. It wouldn’t have taken much to make a near perfect game out of what was already there. So when they said they were making a sequel, I started polishin’ my chainsaw.

Dead Rising 2 is just like the 1st : a third person zombie fest where anything that isn’t nailed down, and even some that are, can be used as a weapon while you go about the main story. The big “twist”, so to speak, is that the zombies are not your main concern. It’s the normal people who are trying to capitalise on this crazy situation who tend to be the the bigger villains. The zombies are there mainly because, as we proved earlier, zombies are awesome, but they also make a great obstacle. Not just because they want to eat your brains but because using your imagination to dispatch the undead can be so much fun that you forget about saving the hapless survivors in time. Sneaky buggers!

For those looking for the fast answer to “is it any different from the 1st game?”, the answer is no. There’s more zombies on the screen than before and you have an ability to make weapons out of other items, but that’s really it. All the stuff that pissed you off before is still there.

So for those who haven’t played the 1st game, Dead Rising 2 is like getting a million Lego pieces and being told you can only play with them for 30 minutes. The potential for what you can do seems limitless… except for the crazy limits the rules force on you.

In DR2, you are trapped inside a humongous casino themed adult fun park with zombies. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of zombies. The slow moving kind who growl and stumble toward you and are generally easy to get past in smaller numbers but when the herd mentality kicks in and you are literally surrounded by hundreds at once, religion seems the closest thing to salvation your sorry ass is going to get. So to help with cutting through the sea of reanimated corpses, you are armed with your imagination and a plethora of… well, stuff.

Every store, casino and alleyway is littered with objects you can pick up and pretty much all of these can be combined with something else to make a weapon that would get Bruce Campbell hailing to the king. And some of the more absurd combinations are usually the most effective. An axe and a sledge hammer makes an item known as “the defiler” which can only be described as a hammer gaffer taped between 2 axes but jeebuz does it make a mess! Boxing gloves and knives create some makeshift wolverine mitts. A vacuum cleaner and saw blades make a whippersnipper from hell. The list is huge with dozens of wacky combos conjured up by some twisted minds.

With all that in mind, it would seem that Dead Rising is a veritable bloodbath wonderland with only your sick imagination being the limit but that would be a premature conclusion indeed. What is the one thing that could bring all this awesomeness to a bland halt? Time limits. And Dead Rising 2 has the worst time limits EVER CONCEIVED!!! Basically, every day, you have to get an anti-zombie medication for your sick daughter at 7am. Whilst running around trying to clear your name of the zombie outbreak that you have been framed of. If you miss either of these deadlines, you can never get a decent ending for the game but you can still play amongst the undead without a purpose. These deadlines wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t displayed so oddly. The timer shows as a bar on the screen but it doesn’t start moving until the final 10 odd minutes. Which can really work against you when it can take up to 20 minutes to move from one side of the map to the other. To make matters worse, they throw little side quests at you to save some of the survivors. If you focus on these too much, it is extremely easy to forget about the 2 main missions and before you know it, all the crazy running around you have been doing is for naught.

The time restraints aren’t even the worst thing about the game either! It’s an issue that came up in the first Dead Rising game but since the frequency has grown ten-fold, this niggly problem has turned into a psychotic hatred. The boss battles. And there’s heaps of them. Colourful and imaginative in design, you will battle a gimp groomsman, a freaked out children’s mascot, a cannibalistic chef and a redneck serial killer on a chainsaw motorbike just to name a few. Their health and speed, however, are just flat-out unfair. Most attacks they do will knock you to the ground which will set them up for another hit, meanwhile your attacks, even with the biggest and baddest weapons you can get will barely make them flinch. Then after 3 or 4 direct hits to the face with a defiler, you begin to notice that their health bar is basically untouched, while yours is rapidly depleting. So just get up and eat something to regain your health, right? Well, when these guys move at lightning speed, the animation of eating something takes 5 seconds and you can’t move whilst it happens. In this time, the boss has found a new sheath for his shiny chainsaw… your ass!

Dead Rising 2 is an extremely frustrating experience that will make you rage-quit numerous times but you will go back to it again and again. If this game had a sandbox mode like the first one did, there would be a light at the end of the hatred but without that infinite mode, this game is stuck making you very angry in between parts where you cry with laughter as you skewer a bunch of zombies with a moose head and pick off the undead with a 9 iron golf club and a bucket of balls. Just shy of absolute brilliance!

– Stubby