bulby33's Dead Rising: Case Zero (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Bravo Capcom, you've totally made me excited for Dead Rising 2.

There’s no lie here; I had my fair share of skepticism of the whole “payed demo” experiment Capcom was hyping for their September release of Dead Rising 2, appropriately named Dead Rising 2: Case Zero. But luckily Capcom has put my fears to rest because Case Zero may not have the same flash as the real thing, it may not be very deep, and it may not be the very best way to spend your pocket change. But damn, for only five dollars Capcom has successfully did what they set out to do—made me excited for a game I had no intention on playing before. Bravo.

Case Zero takes place prior to the events of the real, retail release of Dead Rising 2, approximately months before. You play as Chuck Greene, a racing fanatic that had a turn for the worst as his daughter, Katey, has been infected by the zombies that roam the land. Luckily for him, and her especially, Katey can be saved as long as she takes a shot of “zombrex” to keep her infection at bay for 12 hours. But the dilemma can never end that easy can it? While stopping to get some gas Chuck has his car stolen in the middle of a small town. With nowhere to go he must find a way out of there, while trying to keep his daughter alive.

The story is told through small cutscenes and are done very well. While it’s not anything new or terribly exciting, I was surprised to feel sympathy and empathy for the characters that I usually never care much about. And this is coming off the first Dead Rising where none of the character were especially interesting or noteworthy. A major step forward for the series that needed some sort of driving factor other than “killin’ them zambies.”

But, like you might have expected, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero still features its fair share of zombie killing anyways. New to Dead Rising 2 is the combining of items feature that lets you tether items together to make more useful weapons. Sure, there’s still your run-of-the-mill weapons like bats, 2x4s, sledge hammers, but you could potentially combine something like a bat and box of nails together to make a spiked bat, which is incredibly useful for crowd control. While we only get a taste of what we can expect from the main game, we still get 9 items that you could possibly create—more than I initially expected.

The Dead Rising-esque mission set-up is still primarily the same in Case Zero, but is made easier by the smaller amount of things to do in town. Remember how annoying it was to keep track of the 4 or 5 missions that are happening right at the same time in the original Read Rising? In Case Zero there were only one or two of these that would be occurring at one time, making the management more tolerable.

Plus you still earn experience, called “PP,” which eventually levels you up to make you more powerful and better with weapons. Chuck never really gains anything especially noteworthy when leveling up to his maximum of 5 levels in Case Zero, but the minor raise of stats (which you unfortunately can’t choose yourself) prove to be more beneficial than you’re lead to believe. Chuck’s health, for example, was increased by one point after I leveled him up to 5, which became especially useful when the time came to save the more difficult survivors. Oh yeah—there’s survivors to save, too.

Case Zero’s presentation is nothing to scoff at, though I was expecting a bit more. The environment look good and the characters animated pretty well, but the overall visual production isn’t great. The character models look funny up close and the frame rate can dip with so many zombies on screen. The audio—like the voice acting especially—is impressive, plus the rare amount of music works. The sound effects are good, too.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero has done exactly what it was supposed to—make me excited about the upcoming release of Dead Rising 2. The amount of content that’s packed into this five dollar download is decent and is generally pretty surprising. While there’s no doubt Capcom wanted this to only be a taste of what we can expect from Dead Rising 2 later this month, Case Zero on its own merits alone are worth the five dollars. Well done Capcom.

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