by Chris Davis
reviewed on X360
When the Xbox 360 first launched five years ago one of the teased games from Capcom was Dead Rising. From the trailer all one could discern was a fairly ugly reporter walking around a supermarket amongst hundreds of zombies. When the final product arrived, however, we were treated to a free roaming zombie playground with a seemingly endless motley of ways to dispose of the undead menace set against an interesting (if B-movie quality) storyline with franchise potential.
With the zombie gaming craze seemingly reaching its zenith, does Dead Rising 2, coming from a Western developer now, complement the well-established genre?
I’ve Covered Wars Ya Know
In the aftermath of the Willamette, Colorado incident, the world has changed in response to the existence of zombies. Public opinion is split between disgust for the infected and those who seek to cure them. The one general consensus is that zombies are not regarded as citizens and can be considered property. As such, zombie killing has become an unofficial sport with the flagship source of entertainment being Terror Is Reality, a pay-per-view show where contestants compete in American Gladiators-esque events for cash prizes.
Enter Chuck Greene, professional motocross rider, handyman, and father of one. During a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, Chuck lost his wife to the infection. He was able to escape along with his daughter Katey who was unfortunately bitten in the process. Katey is now dependent on Zombrex, an anti-zombification drug developed following the Willamette outbreak that requires strict regular doses. The drug is expensive and Greene does everything he can to prevent the loss of this daughter.
That means that he has to go where the money is. Needing to purchase more of the drug, Chuck competes in an episode of Terror Is Reality in Fortune City, the go-to alternative now that Las Vegas is gone. When leaving the event to pick up his daughter, an explosion rocks the arena elevator and knocks Chuck unconscious. Awakening to chaos, Chuck realizes that the arena’s zombies have escaped and are quickly turning Fortune City into an undead paradise. Chuck finds Katey and escapes to an emergency shelter before the doors close. After fetching some Zombrex and giving Katey her required shot a news report frames Chuck for the outbreak. And he has only three days to clear his name before the army comes to town.
Chuck’s story unfolds in the same manner as Frank West’s did in the original Dead Rising. Told through a series of ‘cases’ that occur over the course of those three days, players must meet the deadlines in order to discover the truth of the outbreak. Miss even a single event and it is game over, so time management is something of a necessity. The pacing of the story is far more generous this time around and actually develops in a far more interesting way than what was experienced in Dead Rising.
That being said, there are several problems with the game’s story. For one, apart from having a main character being a dedicated father and having some pun-tastic lines during cinemas, Chuck really isn’t all that interesting a character. Chuck is most likely meant to be a blank slate character for players to customize or dress-up, but when you don’t include moral decision making to the process, he will always be merely a dress-up doll.
Another problem is the design of the overall story. Even if you haven’t seen any of the trailers or pre-release marketing for the game, you pretty much know from the first time you see a character whether they’ll be good, bad, or end up dead. Many of these roles too are cookie-cutter in design and are almost completely see-through. The survivors that you rescue have roughly the same amount of character that Dead Rising’s ones had so there’s been no growth in this department. It would have been nice to be able to recruit survivors to go out there and help you rescue others but once they enter the safe room they pretty much aren’t leaving.
Great improvement of the ideas of the original
Some graphical quirks, not as innovative as it could have been