Dead Rising 2 [Review]

Welcome to Zombieland

Fortune City, Nevada: America’s adult playground, full of glitz, glamor, and now…  a zombie outbreak in the new Dead Rising 2.  You fill the shoes of Chuck Greene as he struggles to keep his daughter safe, clear his name, and ultimately just survive until help arrives.  Luckily though, with a bevvy of new weapons, some old-fashioned ingenuity and a whole lot of duct tape, your stay in Fortune City isn’t just work, it’s an amazing amount of fun too.

The game starts you out as a contestant on the TV game show Terror Is Reality, trying to win money to pay for a medication your daughter needs every 24 hours, or else she dies.  Shortly after you compete on the show all hell breaks loose in Fortune City. In the ensuing chaos you manage to get your daughter safely to the city’s Emergency Shelter, only to realize that you don’t have any Zombrex medication for her and that the shelter doesn’t have a supply either.  A father’s work is never done, so after being introduced to a few characters and given a walkie-talkie (something Dead Rising vets will be all too familiar with) you’re off to fend for yourself against psychopaths, looters, and literally thousands of zombies.

The first Dead Rising had the potential to be great, but the flaws in the game marred the experience and kept it from that high bar.  The combined forces at Blue Castle games and Capcom recognized this, and certainly took care to deliver an experience that is evocative of the original game, but makes sure not to repeat its mistakes.  There are a couple of issues I had with the game, but they were few compared to what the team got right.

The first issue is your daughter Katey needing Zombrex every 24 hours.  The problem isn’t in finding the drug, it’s that there is a certain window (between 7am and 8am) in each morning when you have to give it to her. For some reason you’re the only one that is able to do this, despite the fact that one of the other main characters sits in the same room with her 24 hours a day and there’s at least a half dozen other people in the shelter.  You’ll find yourself running into the issue where you have a couple of hours until she needs the medication, but you don’t want to go do a mission or side quest that will take you too far away, putting you at risk of having a premature game over.  There’s always zombies to kill, but there’s not always much else to do in the vicinity of the safe house.

My next problem actually is the only flaw that carried over from the first game.  Chuck Green is every bit as slow as Frank West was at the outset of the game.  I can understand not having the character moving full speed all the time, but the inclusion of a sprint of some sort would have been great for getting out of jams.  There is an upside though, as much like last time, the leveling system gives upgrades to running speed as you achieve higher levels.

One of the first improvements players will notice this time around is the change to the save system.  There are now three slots to save in, and you can save in any bathroom throughout the city.  You are also given the opportunity to save after completing story missions as well.  In the event of your untimely demise you are given the option to load from one of those slots, or restart the story while carrying over your level and PP earned.

Saving survivors is actually a worthwhile activity this time around, as Capcom seems to have given NPCs a brain transplant and they can fend for themselves much better in this go-round.  You get rewarded with PP towards your level for survivors joining you, and for delivering them to the safe house.  You can give and trade weapons to help NPCs defend themselves, but don’t expect them to trade their shotgun for your purse!  The mission structure of the game also feels like it allows for more downtime if you’re finishing events in a timely manner this time around, so don’t be surprised if you get sucked into rescuing folks trapped around the city.  Some survivors even show you shortcuts through the city that are incredibly useful for getting around.  It’s worth the extra effort.

The coolest new feature out of Dead Rising 2 is the ability to create combinations of weapons to better slay zombies with. These ‘combo cards’ are given when you level up, find ideas in the environment, and just happen to find weapon combos that work. Any item that can potentially be used in the maintenance rooms placed all over Fortune City is marked with a wrench icon. Take two items that can be combined to one of those work rooms and presto! – new exotic forms of death await the shambling hordes of the city. Everything from bladed boxing gloves to chainsaw strapped motorcycles can be yours to wreak havoc with. The possibilities are nearly endless.

This time around the game also includes a co-op mode where you and a friend can romp through fortune city and through the story line.  You both play as Chuck, but with all the options of different clothes and outfits you can wear you’ll barely remember you’re playing the same guy. Only the hosting player can save game progress, but the guest visiting their Fortune City can save any money and level progression they get in the course of helping out.  The Chucks aren’t linked to each other, either.  Players can be anywhere in relation to each other, and you’ll get a useful icon to let you know where your partner is and what state they’re in.

In addition to the co-op mode there is a Terror Is Reality online mode, which is a four player affair that puts you through various mini-games from the game show.  I’m not usually much for mini-game modes, but in this case I was pleasantly surprised. The games are fun and varied (although you can occasionally get the same string of mini-games in multiplayer) and there’s another bonus; if you play ranked matches you get cash you can transfer into any of your save files, and you get money regardless of if you win or lose the overall game show.

The only actual problem I had with the online “versus” is if the host player quits for some reason; that’s it for everyone and any work you did is null.  Seeing as how you get rewarded regardless of the final standings though, it wasn’t often that it happened to me.  Out of a dozen Terror is Reality matches I had the host quit just two times.  With the money involved that carries over into getting more fun toys in single player, there’s no reason not to visit this mode at least a few times.

Fortune City is your playground of undead violence this fall. With every aspect of the game receiving more polish and attention than its predecessor, there’s no reason not to pick this game up and visit. While you’re there, always remember to ask yourself: What would Chuck Do?

The answer? He’d kill a lot of damn zombies. So will you, and you’ll love every minute of it.

[Images provided via]

Robert Hill-Williams
Robert Hill-Williams
Robert Hill-Williams

MASH Veteran

The only things Rob has been doing longer than gaming are breathing, sleeping, eating, and reading. RPGs were what made him view games as an experience instead of a distraction, but these days he likes and plays every genre gaming has to offer. Outside of his usual reviews and articles on MTB, you can find Rob on the weekly Mashcast and frequenting Twitter.

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