It’s been four year since Capcom allowed gamers to run rampant in a shopping mall, slaying zombies by the hundreds with an arsenal of improvised weaponry, but fortunately, it looks like the developers used the time to fine tune the art of undead genocide for Dead Rising 2.
Set in a zombie-infested version of Las Vegas, gamers play as Chuck Greene, a widower who must brave the flesh-eating hordes in order to obtain medication for his ailing daughter. The story is surprisingly competent for a Capcom game. The writing is sloppy and the characters range from generic clichés to bizarre psychopaths, but the relationship between father and daughter that the game emphasizes gives the narrative a layer of emotional depth you wouldn’t expect from a game that revolves around constant bloodshed.
You have 72 hours until the military comes to rescue you, but you’ll need to leave the sanctuary of your shelter in order to find anti-virus medication for your daughter, who was bitten by a zombie, every 24 hours. Additionally, you’ll also be given missions ranging from escorting survivors to safety to taking out the many murderous lunatics that are roaming the streets. Of course, standing in your way is a never ending sea of the undead. For every zombie you decapitate, another five will literally take their place.
Fortunately, Chuck’s selection of weapons consists of virtually anything you can find lying around. Guitars, boxes, rakes, cash registers, shotguns, axes –if you can pick it up, you can use it to cave in some brains. Items are fragile, though, so you’ll have to frequently scavenge for new weapons.
A new feature in Dead Rising 2 is the ability to combine items to create deadlier weapons. Some of them are obvious (nails and a baseball bat make a spiked bat) while others are as silly as they are lethal (a wheel chair equipped with handguns). Experimenting with combinations is not only a great way to kill zombies, but it’s also a lot of fun to see what ridiculous possibilities Capcom has included in the game.
Though you’ll never be able to clear an area entirely of enemies, you are given experience points for every objective you accomplish and every zombie you kill. These points level Chuck up, increasing his health, item carrying capacity, etc. Not only does this increase your odds of survival, but if you ever find yourself in a no-win predicament (i.e –it’s impossible to get Chuck’s daughter her medication in time) you can actually restart the game and carry over your progress. There’s a generous amount of save points, though, so this really shouldn’t be an issue for most.
Dead Rising 2 also includes a co-op mode where another play can hop in at any time. Suffice to say, killing zombies with a friend is more fun than doing it solo, and it certainly helps that your partner can revive you. The four-player, Terror is Reality multiplayer portion of Dead Rising 2, however, is little more than a series of mini-games. Killing zombies en mass in a human hamster ball is entertaining at first, but even though these games give you cash that can be transferred in story mode, they’re ultimately little more than a minor distraction you’ll play a few times and never touch again.
Dead Rising 2 is a worthy successor to the original Dead Rising. It successfully takes everything that made its predecessor such a hit, and it also removes or fixes the annoyances that sometimes made Dead Rising a very frustrating experience. Well, most of them at least. The controls are still a bit clunky and there are a lot of load times, but these drawbacks barely detract from the visceral thrill of wading through a sea of bloody corpses with a fireman’s ax or a motorcycle equipped with chainsaws.
Dead Rising 2 is an awesome action game that emphasizes mindless fun over anything else. There are a few hiccups that prevent it from being perfect, but if you’re looking to check your brain out and just immerse yourself in an insane bloodbath of gratuitous violence and unchecked carnage, Dead Rising 2 is definitely for you.
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