Back in 2006, we were introduced to the zombie filled Dead Rising that, despite some issues, became hugely popular all over the globe. Four years have passed since Frank had to deal with the zombie outbreak in Willamette and now we have a new unlucky guy who has found himself in a similar position in Dead Rising 2.
Set five years after the original game, Dead Rising 2 begins with our newly appointed zombie slayer, Chuck Greene, fixing up his motorcycle with his daughter, Katey, nearby. What he is preparing the motorcycle for is the new hit reality television show Terror Is Reality where contestants must kill zombies in a variety of ways to earn money. The former motocross champion uses his skills to make himself enough money for him and his daughter to get by. Shortly after Chuck participates in an episode of Terror Is Reality, there is a zombie outbreak in Fortune City, a fictional city that resembles Las Vegas, where the whole game is set. Chuck is held responsible and he must attempt to clear his name while also finding medicine for his daughter, who is slowly turning into a zombie, before the military arrive in 72 hours.
Controlling Chuck can be a nightmare in the beginning of the game as Chuck runs like he is going out for a morning jog rather than running away from zombies that are about to have him for dinner. After killing a number of zombies you will level up and after about ten levels you finally get your first of three speed boosts which really makes a difference when having to run from one side of Fortune City to the other for some of the missions. Your health and inventory space also increases when you level up and after gaining the fifty levels that are in the game you will be able to survive for a heck of a long time and carry a respectable amount of weapons. You also gain new abilities when levelling up such as a jump kick but the real damage is going to come from the weapons that you are able to construct.
One of the features added to Dead Rising 2, which was not in the first game, is the ability to create even stronger weapons by combining the items you find in Fortune City. When levelling up you occasionally get rewarded with combo cards that tell you what items can be combined, but this doesn’t mean you can only make a weapon once you have a combo card, it just means you will get the full amount of experience from killing a zombie. This of course means you level up quicker, so using combo card weapons is usually the fastest way to gain ranks. As for the combinations they are sometimes obvious but also surprising - I mean who would think to shove a few gems in a leaf blower and use it as a weapon? Of course though, all the weapons will eventually break but the combination weapons are much more durable.
A slight annoyance I personally found with Dead Rising 2 was time management. The story is broken into cases which lead up to proving Chuck’s innocence and finding out who is really behind the outbreak. When a case begins, a timer starts counting down and if you don’t complete the case within the time given, you fail and have a few choices. You can continue the game and not clear Chuck’s innocence, or load a previous save file or start the game from the very beginning but keep all the abilities, health boosts and inventory space you have acquired up to that point. The same happens if you do not give your daughter Katey her Zombrex on time and trying to find Zombrex can be a mission all on its own. When doing these cases I found it very difficult to help out some of survivors, who upon contacting you for help start a timer of their own, and sometimes I had to let them die in order to complete a case on time. Not only did I feel bad for letting the poor sods die, I also missed out on the large amounts of experience you gain from saving them. Bad times.
Other than the lack of time on cases and Chuck’s awful run speed at the beginning of the game, the only other things I can complain about are some slow loading times and the removal of the photography system from the first game. However, magazines you find throughout the city improve your weapons, food bonuses and abilities instead now. The game looks great and cut scenes are produced in-game, showing Chuck wearing whatever you have picked up from the stores inside the mall at Fortune City, be it a pretty blue dress or a mask that is modelled after Street Fighter’s Blanka. Sound effects are spot on and each area made me feel like I was actually there, with the familiar sounds of cheesy shopping centre music or the enticing sounds of the fruit machines in the various casinos spread throughout the city. Good times!
There is multiplayer in the game which basically allows a friend to enter the campaign and play as Chuck’s twin, or at least I think it is as they look exactly the same just with a different coloured jacket. There is also an option in the menu to participate in the Terror Is Reality television show that pits you against players online and has you play some mini games, such as throwing antlers at zombies and running around in giant balls squishing as many zombies as you can. After three randomly chosen rounds you will finish with the motorcycle mini game from the beginning of the single player campaign where you have two chainsaws strapped to the handles and try and beat your opponents by killing as many zombies as possible in the time given. Any money you earn from winning in these mini games can be transferred to your single player campaign, which makes purchasing those higher quality weapons and Zombrex that little bit easier.
With a little bit of tweaking, Dead Rising 2 could have been a little easier to control and I might have been able to save some of the helpless civilians, but overall I had a lot of fun in my 72 hour vacation in Fortune City. If you are looking for a game that has some decent replay value or simply loved the first game, then Dead Rising 2 is defiantly worth the money.