Dead Rising 2 Review
Capcom's Dead Rising first arrived on the Xbox 360 as one of the console's earlier exclusive titles from Capcom. Much like Lost Planet, I didn't find myself caring all too much about this new next-gen property. But it seems like others did, and so, we have a sequel. This time around Dead Rising leaves its exclusivity behind and arrives on the PlayStation 3. But hold off on those party hats, everyone, because this bash isn't one to go crazy over. While Dead Rising 2 may have its fun moments, its clunky controls, overly simplistic design, and repetition will have you feeling bored quick.
Dead Rising 2 takes place five years after the first in Fortune City, Nevada…fake city, real state. You are motocross rider Chuck Greene and you find yourself in a reality death show where a group of contestants on motorcycles have to mow down hordes of zombies. You'll have chainsaws strapped to both sides of your bike, so as you fly by, you're slicin' and dicin'. You're doing this because you need money to buy some Zombrex. What's Zombrex? Glad you asked. It's an in-game prescription medicine used to prevent a dormant zombie infection from breaking out, it lasts 24-hours. Think of it like those pills for herpes…except if you're infected and you don't take some Zombrex, the side-effects are a lot worse than just a breakout here and there. Unfortunately for Chuck, his daughter is infected when her own zombified mother bit her, and so a part of the game actually involves you taking care of her by bringing Zombrex.
The story is pretty nutty, and gets especially silly towards the end. There's a few notable plot-twists, but seeing as how this is B-grade cheese, they weren't supposed to be very good plot-twists. In any case, all of that is second to the actual gameplay, which many may find to get tiresome rather quick. At first the ability to use so many different objects as a weapon seems cool, but you'll quickly realize how many of those objects are utterly pointless and serve no purpose. What I did like was the ability to merge numerous weapons together and create one powerful weapon out of it. I do wish that these weapons had higher tolerances, as some of the melee items will break apart after about 10-15 swings. What I really wished to see was a more drawn out combat setup that mimicked the all-out weapon flailing of Dynasty Warriors. Instead, you are limited to just one attack button, which you will mash repeatedly. As a whole, I couldn't shake the feeling of the combat just feeling clunky and under-developed, I really was expecting something far more polished and smooth.
Story mode can be played co-operatively with another player, but the multiplayer is limited to just four. Co-op allows for gamers to join you on the fly, which is nice. But of course, you'll only like co-op if you like actual game itself. The multiplayer, on the other hand, is much like what you play at the very beginning of the story mode. Four players will be placed in an arena and allowed to pilot vehicles, and use all sorts of odd and cool weapons, and the objective is to simply kill as many zombies as possible. The multiplayer games are actually quite a bit of fun, but four players can still feel like a bit of a limitation. Regardless, I'd say the online stuff is worth checking out if you find this game cheap sometime soon. But make sure you keep reading to find out why else the gameplay suffers...
Visually, Capcom dropped the ball. Sure, having thousands of zombies on screen is ambitious, but it's not like all 9000 zombies will be within spitting distance of you anyways. So the game engine ends up being tasked to work hard and suffers from quite a lot of slowdown when the action around you is hectic. And again, since there are so many zombies rendered at once within the vicinity, that means you'll be experiencing frame drops frequently. Now if you know me, you know I don't stand for problematic framerate, and I especially don't like them in action games. Additionally, it's not like the game is very striking to look at anyway, since texture detail is fairly low and there just isn't a whole lot to impress you when you're looking around. It's not terrible to look at, but considering the quality, I'd have certainly expected a better framerate at least.
And so we come to the audio. Remember, since you're entering the realm of B-movie cheese, you have to expect some pretty ho-hum voice acting. That's just what you'll get when the cut-scenes are triggered, especially when listening to the game's news reporter Rebecca. But thankfully the rest of the voice acting is not as bad as it could've been. Other bits of audio are largely forgettable, and you'll often hear the same things repeated numerous times in the background - usually from nearby NPCs. Zombies moan and groan, which is par for course, and a contrasting track arrangement has cheery tunes playing when you're running around in certain places.
All in all, if you liked the first Dead Rising you'll really like the sequel. The weapons and the kinds of weapons you can put together really make for some really kick ass kills. Additionally, there are some RPG-esque elements which I liked, as well. But what really killed it for me was the clunky and often unresponsive controls, in addition to the repetitive combat which could've used a lot more diversifying. The multiplayer is a fun and good effort, but again, could've used more depth. Seeing as how Dead Rising 2 ends off on a cliffhanger, there's no question that a third one is well on its way…let's just hope we get something much more polished than this.
10/2/2010 Arnold Katayev