The Definition Of Love It Or Hate It
Dead Rising 2 may be destined to go down as one of the most divisive games of this console generation. On the surface, the game is a silly zombie-slaughtering romp through a teeming adult playground. Look under the inviting surface, however, and you'll find a game that was tailor made for the hardest of hardcore. Thanks to nerve-wracking time limits, maddening boss encounters, and the hundreds of collectible items, Dead Rising 2 is a game that must be played over and over again in order to get the full experience. Fans of the original Dead Rising will find even more to love here, but newcomers may find themselves adrift in a sea of zombies without a paddlesaw.
Survivors are littered haphazardly around Fortune City, desperately fighting off the undead invasion. If Chuck encounters a survivor during his travels, he can escort them back to his safe house for a hefty experience bonus. It's almost never as easy as simply speaking to them and escorting them, though. Most survivors have conditions that must be fulfilled if they are to return with you. Some are missing their family and must be reunited, while others simply want a drink. The variety of survivor missions make for a varied and interesting distraction from killing zombies, but occasionally the menace of idiotic AI will rear its ugly head, sending your survivors charging into a crowd of zombies for no apparent reason. Worse is the fact that when you try to rescue them you'll often
end up mauling them instead, and you do not want these guys mad at you. Despite these issues, escorting survivors is well worth the effort thanks to the massive experience bonuses and useful items with which they bestow you.
There are some survivors, however, who don't want to be rescued. These psychopaths have taken a liking to the zombified city, having found an opportunity to unleash their dormant masochistic instincts. These enemies appear as side missions just like normal survivors, but they serve as boss battles in Dead Rising 2. Unfortunately, most of these battles are just flat out broken. Psychopaths can sustain and deal out massive amounts of damage without batting an eye, and they're usually faster than Chuck to boot. The real kicker is that the psychopaths wouldn't be so difficult were the game mechanics not so woefully broken. When battling an army of shambling corpses it's almost second nature to overlook Chuck's flailing, inaccurate attacks and his tendency to drop items whenever he's hit. The boss battles demand much more precision, though, and it's precision that the controls can't provide. All in all, these battles are so incredibly difficult that most of them are best left to the second or third play though, when Chuck will be leveled up enough to put up a fight. Unfortunately, it's easy to stumble upon a psychopath fight by accident. You may be attempting to save you game by entering a bathroom and wind up fighting a strung out wacko with nothing in your inventory but a box of nails and some coffee creamer. Because of this, it's important to check the map frequently.
With odds like these, it's a lucky thing that Chuck is so good with his hands. By entering the numerous maintenance rooms scattered around the city, he can combine multiple items to produce hilarious killing machines using nothing but duct tape and raw ambition. Some of these combo weapons are so wild they have to be seen to be believed. A few others are silly and relatively useless, but all combo weapons grant a huge bonus to the experience gained from killing zombies. The idea of combining weapons as a means for gaining experience makes a lot more sense than snapping photographs did in the last game, and it's a lot more fun too. There are dozens and dozens of potential weapons to be made, ensuring that you won't tire of the senseless slaughter for a long time to come. In fact, with so many weapons to craft, it becomes increasingly tempting to just let Katey die, thus blocking out all further story missions and making the game into a three day free-for-all. It may sound terrible, but it's fun.
The presentation backing up all of this violence remains solid, but not great. Characters and their shadows have some weird edges to them, and some of the animations are pretty stiff. Character models and environments are usually pretty basic as well, making for a game that can look kind of janky sometimes. Still, it's impressive that the graphics engine can handle hundreds of zombies onscreen at once without slow down or pop-in. The audio, on the other hand, is one of the highlights of the game. Carving a bloody swath through a city of zombies wouldn't be so much fun if each skull-splintering blow didn't sound just right. The sound of a blunt object colliding with an enemy's head is wet and satisfying, and torching a zombie and listening to his panicked moans makes for some disturbingly good entertainment. The only weapons that don't sound spot on are the guns, which sound a little weak. If you're using a lot of guns in Dead Rising 2, though, you're probably missing the point of the game, so this isn't a big deal. The voice acting, like the rest of the audio, fits the tone of the game perfectly. Characters are always on the verge of taking their heavy handed dialogue too seriously, which matches well with the campy events occurring around them. The camera angles and character designs add to the cheeseball fun, with the view frequently lingering on women's legs and cleavage, or on a violently dispatched psychopath's mangled body.
All of this may sound like great fun, and it is, but your enjoyment of the game will largely come down to how much you can tolerate operating in an open world under a constant time limit. For some it will give the game an added sense of tension, because if you expect to unlock the true ending each of your steps must be taken with purpose. Others won't appreciate being loosed in an undead playground and immediately getting saddled with such a restraint. Truly, if you intend to see all that Dead Rising 2 has to offer, you must devote yourself to the game. Multiple play throughs are practically demanded in order to see all that the game has to offer. Luckily, you don't have to face the hoards alone. Dead Rising 2 is the first game in the series to offer online co-op play. This game is a lot of fun with a like-minded friend, but it also feels a little odd. The other player also takes the role of Chuck Greene, which looks a little weird in action, and for such a tightly focused game it's easy to lose that drive in multiplayer and give in to just messing around, which can screw up your game's timeline a little. Overall, though, co-op is a great but unessential addition.
If you can handle the massively overpowered boss battles, strict time limits, and imprecise controls, Dead Rising 2 offers a massive amount of compelling content to be explored. For gamers who simply have to collect it all, this game will remain in the disc drive for a long time to come. The campy storyline is great, but by far the biggest driving force in the game is the ridiculous amount of weapon combinations to be explored. These shining and hilarious portions of the game overshadow the more frustrating elements every time, making for a game that's just as much fun to play as it must have been to make. Although Dead Rising 2 is sure to be divisive, it's worth a shot simply because if you do like it, you'll be playing it for a very long time to come.