I've covered FAN-TASTIC wars, you know.
Dead Rising 2 is now pretty much set up as trilogy. There is the beginning with Case Zero that introduced the man of the hour, Chuck Greene, aswell as his strong willed daughter who has the unfortunate burden of living her life with the need for the brain munchies only a missed syringe shot away. It introduced many a new features for the series and the staples from which the Dead Rising 2 saga would be known by. The custom built weapons, multiple save slots and... well actually everything else was already established in the original Dead Rising, I guess.
Then the main course of the whole ordeal came with Dead Rising 2. It kept with it the strong bond between Chuck and Katey introduced from the original and, well, went along as you'd expect a Dead Rising game to go; time limits, survivors to escort, psychopaths to attempt and so on. The overall story-line is what is growing the most significantly through the franchise now, as is proven with the latest (and hopefully the last for a very long time) Dead Rising release.
Now Case West is here, acting as the epilogue to Dead Rising 2, and also eventually becoming the prelude for an inevitable Dead Rising 3.
As the name implies, Case West now reunites Dead Rising veterans with the original zombie whacker, blender, cutter, humilator and overall annihilator, Frank West. Chuck still plays a heavy focus on the storyline, but Case West more or less dumps a lot of the original Dead Rising memorabilia into this pack with Frank's original journalist costume, his character theme, supporting character cameos and a sizeable amount of weapons returning from the original at that (Welcome back, Katana!). Chuck's the lead character, but the fiction surrounding Frank West is much more prevalent throughout the game.
Unlike Case Zero before it, that had a surprisingly lengthy interval between the stories, Case West literally picks up near the end of Dead Rising 2. Strangely enough, however, it's the A ending that looks to have been made canon, rather than the best S ending that was attainable. With Chuck fighting for his dear life, Frank West then conveniently shows up to take down the troublesome zombie and it's then revealed that Frank West was in fact working alongside Rebecca Chang to learn more about the recent outbreak in Fortune City.
Despite Frank initially treating Chuck with a handful of suspicion, they'll eventually decide on heading towards the nearby Zombrex Producing Facility, head by Phenotrans. Upon arrival, Frank, with the aid of his mysterious source, look to expose Phenotrans as the true culprits for the Fortune City zombie outbreak (and many more prior) with Chuck also along to simultaneously prove his innocence regarding the said outbreak.
It's from here on that the game delves into its age old routine of having the player manoeuvre through a contained environment, progressing through the story, saving survivors and all the while slaughtering countless hordes of zombies in between. It's all incredibly familiar, but brings in some slight additions to make it not feel like a complete rehash of Dead Rising 2; most notably with the inclusion of Frank West as your constant companion.
Whether you play it in single player or cooperatively, Frank West is forever there at Chuck's side. In single player, Frank is an invincible companion who will follow you, always equipped with his indestructible bat should you not equip him with something else (though weapons will still deteriorate and eventually break even when Frank uses them). There's not much in the way of team work to be had, lest both characters decide to wail on the same enemy. Frank as a character is also still very much how you'd remember him from the original, complete with his classic melee moves (double lariats included), weapon animations and even his original voice actor arrives to reprise the role. With Frank being such a distinctive character over Chuck, it makes it all the more baffling as to why he isn't playable in single player. You can still choose what outfits he'll wear, but controlling the brute himself requires you to join a cooperative game. In cooperative play, Frank will obviously lose his invulnerability, and also now requires that both players be close by when one wants to move to a different area, but otherwise the game is more or less the same experience.
Photography also returns into the scheme of things too--as what is Frank without his erotic portfolio? Both Frank and Chuck (with his humorously yellow, disposable camera) can take pictures of whatever they desire. This time around, however, there aren't any of those genre marks to go with every picture; no more erotic, horror or humour pictures to take. Photography may at least net you some extra PP, but for the most part it's literally there just to take a few pictures of the facilities map layout for an achievement.
It's respectably brilliant with how CAPCOM handled the arrival of Frank, with him literally retaining everything you remember about him. But leaving him exclusively playable only as the second player of a cooperative match, and with the camera mechanic criminally watered down, greatly tarnishes what is otherwise such a wonderfully Frank West-focused epilogue.
Minus Frank West being here though, the game does still play very similar to previous instalments. Instead of the glamorous and colourful Fortune City, however, Case West is situated in a Phenotrans facility; and while It's nice to be able to explore some new environments, Phenotrans' cold, sterile labs and open areas don't nearly match the diversity and attractive lights of Fortune City, nor even the humble modesty of Still Creek.
Such a high profile facility like one run by Phenotrans also expectedly has plenty of security to look for at that. Unfortunately, enemies with guns are still as infuriating as ever and fending off these marksmen is nothing short of a chore. They're not difficult to beat, but when you're just trying to get across the map, having two to three gunmen shooting at you from above causing you to flinch every two seconds can make for a real headache.
Creatable super drinks, buff inducing magazines, and least of all customisable weapons still await you during Case West as well, with ten of the originals from Dead Rising 2 returning, and even seven new combinations made up of a multitude of new defaults weapons with the likes of electric prods, impact hammers and a syringe gun.
Pretty much all are winners as well, be them either giving the zombies a humourous end, to just being incredibly powerful and satisfying to unleash (The Impact Blaster is a favourite). It also wouldn't be a Dead Rising game without a multitude of silly costumes to uncover and don throughout the adventure and Case West delivers expertly. There's the fitting theme of a patients gown, to a security guard outfit, to some much more clever additions such as Dr Wily outfit right out of Mega Man that you can make with the right pieces.
What is a twist from the original Dead Rising 2, though, is the games difficulty. With you starting the game at Level 40 from the outset, with a potentially invincible sidekick (or least another player) and once again facing the same drove of zombies you may have already massacred for hours before means that the game is a breeze. The many security guards you encounter are also still annoying, though, but again aren't all that difficult with their rather weak damage output and low health. Survivors also function a little simpler this time around, too. Once found they'll only require a specific weapon(s) for them to go on their way and be labelled as ''safe''. You'll still be forced to traverse through the environment so it hardly changes up the formula all that much, though, and least this time it isn't always the same trek to the safe house. Though it's not so much an issue I have with the difficulty as just how the game has taken the easy route - with your PP level most notably. Now obviously they couldn't have set you back at the beginning with rank 1, but having you arrive at level 50 just with a new cap would have made for an intriguing feature.
One notable factor concerning the easier difficulty is also the psychopaths battles, to which most will no doubt remember with less than fond memories from the previous games. There's only one psychopath to face off against, but he is significantly easier than anything from both Case Zero and Dead Rising 2. That's hardly a bad thing, however. This particular boss battle was made easier not just through your level 40-50 skill set (though that naturally helped), but also for him having a much more overall stable design and battle patterns. The boss even has stages for example, instead of just constantly accelerating through the area as previous Dead Rising bosses were accustomed to. The boss is speedy, but there's plenty of opportunities to take advantage of this and dish out some damage, such as luring him into charging right into a large chemical canister that stuns him. Even besides the boss now having a much more functional battle pattern, the fact that you are within the 40-50 range predictably still adds towards the light difficulty they incur and to witness the psychopaths of Dead Rising pushing forward to becoming legitimately fun boss battles was a wonder to behold.
Case West may cost double that of Case Zero before it, but like the price the amount of content it delivers on is much improved. A single playthrough aiming for the ending will take on average around 3-4 hours, and with all of the costumes, survivors, new custom weapons and now two unique characters to possibly finish through the game with gives the game a sizeable amount of playtime to be had. It makes my heart bleed for Frank West's accessibility to be confined and that the new environments can't even begin to match the incentive of exploring through previous Dead Rising locals. But if you're wishing to carry on the now story heavy franchise, or at the very least you (miraculously) haven't finished with your fill of Dead Rising, then Case West will be a purchase well worth spending on.