Giant Bomb Review

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Dead Rising 2: Case Zero Review

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Five dollars is an absurdly low price for the equally absurd, wholesale zombie slaughter in this download.

 Chuck Greene's the man with the tools to get the job done.
For a measly five dollars, just go buy Dead Rising 2: Case Zero. This Xbox Live Arcade release does exactly what Capcom must have wanted it to do: It gets you totally pumped up to play more Dead Rising 2, so it's a good thing the full retail disc game is releasing at the end of September. Cynics might try to to call this a paid demo, but they would be completely objectively wrong. For the price, this is a damn bloody good time--and a fantastic value to boot.

The most important piece of information Case Zero conveys is that Dead Rising 2 will pretty much just be another Dead Rising with a different story. What I mean is, the upcoming sequel will share all of those offbeat, controversial mechanics that made Capcom's first zombie romp a pretty divisive game. The limits on inventory space, run speed, and health; the ever-advancing in-game clock that forces you to accomplish life-or-death tasks on a tight, intractable schedule; the ability--sorry, the necessity--to build up experience, start the game over with your existing level, and make things just a tad easier on yourself. All of it is in there. It doesn't look like Capcom has messed with the first game's unusual particulars, which is a little surprising since some people found those aspects offputting. Those people are out of luck, because that same framework is back in effect.

 Dead Rising is pretty stupid! But it's the kind of stupid that's impossible not to love.
That's evident because it's all in Case Zero now. This is a short, downloadable game, but with all the mechanical trappings of a full retail game, giving you a full taste, but just a taste, of what your 60 dollars will get you in a few weeks. But, importantly, this isn't just a slice of what's already going to be in Dead Rising 2. It's a short, standalone storyline set in a unique location not featured in the full game. New hero and, apparently, motocross champ Chuck Greene is enroute to the Las Vegas-like Fortune City with his zombie-virus-infected daughter Katey, and Case Zero focuses on the pair's brief stint in the tiny desert stopover town of Still Creek, as Chuck desperately tries to secure some new wheels and find more of the miracle drug Zombrex that Katey so badly needs in order to not become, you know, a little-girl zombie.

Cue anywhere from two to five hours of the same sort of irreverent insanity that fueled the first Dead Rising. You find ridiculous outfits for Chuck ranging from a plaid suit to a waitress's outfit. You run into other crazed survivors with their own ridiculous predilections and neuroses. And you orchestrate large-scale zombie slaughter with absolutely everything you find in the environment, from firearms to garden implements to servbot heads. Dead Rising 2 trades in the old photojournalist picture-taking minigame for an item-combination system that you just get a short glimpse of here. Baseball bats combine with nails in obvious ways, but wait till you see what happens when you put together a drill and a bucket, or a rake and a car battery. It's ridiculous and satisfying stuff.

 You'd think the survivors would want to stick together.
We talk a lot about games being janky around here. Jankiness (is that even the proper noun form?) is defined by any combination of rough elements like low frame rates, long loading times, items disappearing randomly, animations causing unwieldy controls, textures looking a little flat, and more. Case Zero is pretty janky. All of those elements are present in some small degree--not enough to ruin the game, but enough to be irksome a couple of times over the course of the game. But they're worth putting up with. In addition to playing through the short storyline, there are enough optional item combinations and extra survivors to hunt down and save (and achievements rewarding each) that you could play through Case Zero three or four times before seeing everything there is to see. It's a lot of game for only five dollars, and I loved every minute of it.

Dead Rising is such an oddball series that its janky elements just feel like part of the experience at this point, anyway. My only other knock against Case Zero is that it's barely long enough to get you hooked on the character progression and item-combining that will be in the full game before it cuts you off, leaving you impatiently wanting more. And if you do happen to want more, you can carry your save file over right into the retail game, retaining your experience and so on. For what actually could have turned out to be a paid demo, Capcom pretty much hit this one out of the park. It's a shame you can only get Case Zero on the Xbox 360, though Dead Rising 2 will also hit the PS3 and PC. Next time, let's hope a bite-size promotional tool that ends up being this great is available to everybody.     Brad Shoemaker on Google+
65 Comments
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Edited by Jethuty

This game is waaay too slow....

Posted by DaBuddaDa

Impressive score!

Posted by crusader8463

Makes me sad that this is only on the 360. It looked like it would have held me over until the game comes out later. Then again, my graphics cards are still busted, so I doubt my PC could run the game at the moment.

Posted by Dylabaloo

Where did brad get that paddle I must know!!

Posted by Damien

I feel the price point imbued everyone with good vibes.  I think other developers should take note.

Posted by Smokay
@Dylabaloo said:
" Where did brad get that paddle I must know!! "
Its right outside of the building in front of you after you exit the safe house next to a tree.
Posted by TheGreatGuero

Dude, that paddle double chainsaw staff in the first screenshot may be the greatest weapon EVER. Take THAT, Darth Maul!

Posted by onlineatron

This strikes me as a review for a demo of a full game. 
  
I understand it is a completely different area than the main game, but it's all the same mechanics, items, weapons, characters etc. 
 
It's just a vertical slice/watered down version of the main game.  
I can't see the review for Dead Rising 2 differentiating much from this one. 

Edited by Stahlbrand

I played CZ last night (all night, I was off-shift), and really enjoyed it.  
 
I read a few reviews for it this evening, and Brad's review here best reflects my own opinions.  I am very happy that the janky weirdness and divisive mechanics are still fully in place, if a little surprised (after they made Chop Till You Drop, I was worried they would really water DR2 down).   The team at Blue Castle in BC have done a great job of capturing the spirit of the first game.
 
400 MSbucks is the perfect price - I hope other publishers take notes on the price/value of CZ if this 'not exactly a demo, but kinda sorta' paid pre-release DLC trend takes off.
 
Before playing this I was pretty sure I'd get the game (because I loved the first one) but I wasn't super-excited.  I bought CZ on a whim (damn Xbox advertising, I was going to play BF:BC2 when I turned it on), and now I'm very excited for DR2.

Posted by Diamond

I already S-Ranked it.  Love it.  It served the purpose of making me more hyped for Dead Rising 2 while still providing more content than a demo would have.

Posted by Bluethunder35

I bought the game but haven't played it. I want to finish some stuff on the PS3 first.  
 
For $5, you can't go wrong. If I like the game, I'll buy DR2 for the 360. I didn't really care for the first DR game, though. Hopefully this one will be better. I'll say this, though: Dead Rising 1 took forever to fall in price.

Posted by MarkWahlberg

We review DLC now? 
 
... I refer to this website as 'we' now?

Posted by Teclo

To be honest, it didn't leave me feeling "pumped" for the full game, it left me feeling kind of flat since it still has the same weird contradiction that DR1 had. It seems to want to be a fun sandbox game in which you can experiment and mess around to your hearts content... And then it sticks a horrific time limit and sometimes obtuse mission directives into the mix and massively undermines the core concept. I'll never forget the time I got a new mission given to me in DR1 and then instantly failed it because it was given to me after the inherent deadline of the particular mission. That meant a game over, and that was the last time I touched the game.
 
DR2CZ didn't have anything that horrible but I found that after only getting 3 of the 5 motorbike parts, and not having explored the town properly, I was out of time for the story mission, being given the worst ending and a D rank simply because I didn't psychically know where the other two parts were.

Edited by CL60
@MarkWahlberg said:

" We review DLC now?  ... I refer to this website as 'we' now? "

It's not DLC. It's an arcade game.
Edited by Landon
@MarkWahlberg said:

" We review DLC now?  ... I refer to this website as 'we' now? "

Your not one of those sports fans who says "Yeah, we made it to the playoffs this season".
 
Also, I bought this a few hours ago. Waiting till tonight to play it.
Posted by fedorajay

Never really got into the first one but I am loving this. You can't go wrong, especially at 5 bucks.

Posted by MarkWahlberg
@CL60 said:
" @MarkWahlberg said:

" We review DLC now?  ... I refer to this website as 'we' now? "

It's not DLC. It's an arcade game. "
Yeah, I guess... It's just since it's not a fully independent thingy... whatever, apparently it's good and that's all that matters.
Posted by Crepe

Would really like to see Case Zero show up on Steam!

Posted by Napalm

I honestly wish they would have adjusted a lot of the mechanics and core concepts of health and inventory management. It's old. And not in the good kind of way. I got used to it after a couple hours since I sunk a lot of time into Dead Rising, but it still left a sour taste in my mouth.

Posted by Xshinobi

If only this wasn't region locked :(

Posted by BionicRadd
@MarkWahlberg said:
" @CL60 said:
" @MarkWahlberg said:

" We review DLC now?  ... I refer to this website as 'we' now? "

It's not DLC. It's an arcade game. "
Yeah, I guess... It's just since it's not a fully independent thingy... whatever, apparently it's good and that's all that matters. "
Yes it is.  It is a self-contained game with a story that you finish.  personally, I plan on buying this instead of plopping down 60 for what is essentially a bigger version of the same experience.
Posted by NekuCTR

I don't get why animation taking priority over controls is filed under "Jankeyness". It's a design choice and a legitimate one at that. When you are trying to make an enclosed, cramped environment, which is something zombie games tend to lean toward, the developers will tend to put in mechanics that restrict the player and make him question his capability to get out of the situation. This is the same testament I associate with the "no moving and shooting" design of Resident Evil and other similar games. I actually enjoy these types of mechanics and although they aren't "realistic" they make the game infinitely more challenging than if you had full 1 to 1 controls. 
Thoughts?

Posted by MetalBaofu
@BionicRadd said:
" @MarkWahlberg said:
" @CL60 said:
" @MarkWahlberg said:

" We review DLC now?  ... I refer to this website as 'we' now? "

It's not DLC. It's an arcade game. "
Yeah, I guess... It's just since it's not a fully independent thingy... whatever, apparently it's good and that's all that matters. "
Yes it is.  It is a self-contained game with a story that you finish.  personally, I plan on buying this instead of plopping down 60 for what is essentially a bigger version of the same experience. "
Ditto, I bought this(kinda hard not to for just 5 bucks), and I have every intention of just renting Dead Rising 2.
Online
Posted by wolf_blitzer85

Outside of the nasty framerate drops near the end of the story, I've been having an absolute blast with this game. 
 
My plan is to just purchase case zero on 360, then pick DR2 off of steam for 40 bucks after I saw how much it was. It's not like I can't grind through those five levels again. 
 
Either way, no matter what system you play it on, its really fun.

Edited by deadward

Hope this pays off for them and other publishers take note. 
That  Zombrex  "movie" on the other hand... Holy shit, what a bad idea.

Posted by gegnre

I only have money for 3, MAYBE 4 games, between now and Christmas. Unfortunately DR2 didn't make the cut, but this sounds like the perfect way to cheat my finances and tide me over.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I played enough of it to know "Yep. It's like the first game. So it's just as janky, obtuse, and punishing."

Posted by one_2nd

I'd have given it the same thing. It was really good for a $5 purchase. 

Posted by L

This sorta just borders a demo but thankfully it goes out a little bit further in terms of time and space available.

Posted by Microshock

5 dollar demo basically?

Posted by MichaelBach

I think this strategy will work. I am not so interested in Dead Rising, but for 5 bucks I will check it out, and who know, might go for the game :)

Posted by Yummylee

That's my only complaint. Having it exclusive to xbox 360. I have a 360 and all, but I'm still going to get DR2 on the PS3 so I can try out its online features. Just a shame I won't get the extra bonuses from Case Zero.

Edited by Death_Burnout

It would be nice to use the drill bucket, to drill in the fact that this is a standalone game and not a damn demo to people.
 
Fantastic game though, it is DR in all possible ways. Not sure what to think about the dodgy framerate and the quick to disappear - slower to disappear in crowds - ragdolls and sliced bodies ...i know for a fact from all pre-release footage of DR2 that it applies there too...i can't get how 4 years ago the original didn't have these limitations, but 4 years later the sequel does. It's obviously there to conserve the already rocky framerate. Doesn't matter though.

Posted by Wrighteous86

Can't wait.  Just wish/hope they fit Frank West somewhere in the full game.

Posted by AlisterCat

Totally agree with this review. You have very little to lose by buying this, and it may leave you wanting more. it did confirm just how much they haven't changed the game but I do like the changes they have made, and I feel like the story is a little more interesting this time round.

Posted by radioactivez0r

1) I really wish "janky" would go away.  It's such a stupid word.
2) CZ is fun, but most important it helps me understand that I will never enjoy DR/DR2 enough to play through them.  That time limit is just too annyoing.

Posted by Ramyun

Finally, a definition for janky! Sounds interesting, but not really enough for me to get Dead Rising 2.

Posted by Stealthcake92

I enjoyed it, just wish it could have followed a set storyline instead of finding the bike parts. 
 
Great prelude to Dead Rising 2 anyway!

Edited by durden77

I personally like DR's timed setup. It gives the series a constant biting feel that's absent in a lot of games these days. I don't think the series would be as unique without it,  and I don't fully understand people's complaints about it.
 
What I do understand is how it would be very annoying to people that just want to mess around with zombies. 
 
What I don't  understand is why they can't just make a separate save file specifically to fuck around on. 
 
In this game there are 3 save slots. I immediately saved in two different slots when I started the game. One for the actual game, and one for just messing with. I'm guessing that this structure will carry over to DR2. 
 
It's been a long time since I've played DR1. I think I remember it only having 1 save slot, which would make this a lot more difficult. But you could always switch over to another profile and do it. But like I said, it's been a long time, so there could be more things other than just save slots from preventing people from doing this that I'm missing.

Posted by Legxend

Picked this up after watching the quick look still havnt had a chance to play through all of it though.

Posted by DiscoDuck8k

Nice review Brad. I'm glad they kept the overall structure from the first game intact. Sometimes it can get pretty challenging, but I don't want something I'm going to breeze through. This game is still punishing in the early stages until you've done some leveling up.
 
Looking forward to playing more at the end of the month.

Online
Posted by Onno10

Looks like brad figured out what goes with the chainsaw... wow

Posted by ItsAJackal

And now beings the paid demo flood because of the success of this.
 
Pretty soon you will have to pay to unlock final bosses in games.

Posted by NemoDat

The greatest trick game publishers ever pulled, was convincing the world demos no longer exist.

Posted by KidA

See I thought this was basically a paid demo, but really its just a taste for those anticipating the full game but don't want to spoil a part of the actual experience. Not a bad idea

Edited by Skillface

People. Demos don't have 200 achievement points. Or hours of fun. Or comprehensible storylines. Or carry-over saves. So shut up.

Posted by Microshock
@Skillface said:
" People. Demos don't have 200 achievement points. Or hours of fun. Or comprehensible storylines. Or carry-over saves. So shut up. "
And they don't cost 5 dollars either! Achievement points are useless too! 
This is a paid demo with slightly more content than a demo.
Posted by Skillface
@Microshock: Have you played the game? If not, then you're really in no position to be making those accusations.
Edited by louiedog
@Microshock said:

" @Skillface said:

" People. Demos don't have 200 achievement points. Or hours of fun. Or comprehensible storylines. Or carry-over saves. So shut up. "
And they don't cost 5 dollars either! Achievement points are useless too! This is a paid demo with slightly more content than a demo. "
Not even close. It's more like the kind of DLC that comes out after a game releases. It has a separate story, locations, and (as far as I know) characters. The difference is that it comes before the game and doesn't require you to own it. It's got at least a couple of hours of gameplay. Anyone who played the first Dead Rising knows that multiple plays are required to get everything out of it. I play just about every demo that hits the marketplace, and none of them are anything close to this.
Posted by Luminal

For $5, I can't complain. Besides, the game does what it's supposed to, satisfy my need to kill zombies :)

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