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Dead Rising 2 Review

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Dead Rising 2 comes with a long list of unfortunate problems, but if you're the type to look past those issues and love a good challenge, this game is actually awesome.


 You'll find some firearms around, both traditional and crazy.
There are multiple ways to play Dead Rising 2. Some of them are simply amazing, giving you tons of time to wander around malls and casinos, busting up zombies with a variety of weapons that are incredibly satisfying to use. At the other end of the spectrum, Dead Rising 2 can also be a tight, time-focused game that's more about running from one place to the next and ensuring that you're in the right place at the right time, with the right weapons to defeat whatever boss-style encounter the game has lined up for you. Dead Rising 2 runs the full range from frustration to fun, but there's more good than bad to be had here.

The bulk of the bad parts in Dead Rising 2 comes at you when you're trying to play through the story or complete side missions. That's when you'll be dealing with survivors--the other humans that have somehow made it through the initial wave of the zombie attack without being bitten. If you played the first Dead Rising, you'll remember the survivors as ineffective dopes that were hard to save since they weren't good enough to keep the zombies at bay and follow you to safety. In Dead Rising 2, the survivors are more resilient and occasionally they're better fighters, too. Still, you'll run into cases where two armed survivors get caught in each others' crossfire or spots where they just sort of don't seem to keep up as well as they were five seconds before. They're still annoying... but they're way less of a game-breaker this time around.

The other type of human you encounter while running around beautiful Fortune City is the psychopath. These guys are usually regular humans that have snapped under the strain of the zombie outbreak, and these can vary from a children's television star wearing a giant mask, roller skates, and homemade flamethrowers to a military man who's lost his team and his mind. After stumbling into one or two of these fights while taking on side missions, I did my best to just avoid them, because I didn't enjoy any of them at all. These battles don't feel like you're actually taking on a new and unique foe. Instead, they feel like barely functional combat puzzles where the main solution is to exploit the AI in one way or another. Facing an armed opponent? Run around a pillar as he gives chase, and then club him with a spiked bat when you "catch up" to him. Facing a guy on roller skates with two homemade flamethrowers? Well, in that case you... actually, I never beat that guy. It just didn't seem worth it, so I found a different side mission.

 There are outdoor areas, but most of your time is spent in malls and casinos.
So, you might be asking, if that's the worst of Dead Rising 2, why are you still semi-positive about the overall experience? It's the setting, some of the characters, and the open nature of your trek through the story that makes Dead Rising 2 work. If you essentially abandon the "facts" of the story missions, you can spend all of your game time building ridiculous combo weapons and taking out your aggressions on a shambling horde of slow-moving zombies or the occasional looter. Since Fortune City is a casino town, you can even gamble to earn a little extra cash, and that money can be used to unlock vehicles. This is a great use of money, since the vehicles stay unlocked for multiple playthroughs.

Again, if you've played Dead Rising, this won't be a surprise, but Dead Rising 2 is built to be played numerous times. So much so, in fact, that every time you die or fail a case, the game gives you the option to simply restart the entire game with your bankroll and character level intact. This means that you'll become more powerful over time, and that power can be used to make the early parts of the game even easier. It also gives you another option when dealing with the game's tougher moments--you can always just start over and grind out more levels to get more inventory slots, health blocks, and attack strength.

If all of this sounds a bit weird, that's OK. Dead Rising 2 is a pretty weird game. But at the heart of it is a relatively normal guy named Chuck Greene. Chuck's an ex-motorcross racer with a daughter who needs a shot of Zombrex every 24 hours or else she'll turn into a zombie. To get money for the constant supply of drugs, Chuck gets on a pay-per-view cross of The Running Man and American Gladiators called Terror Is Reality. In it, contestants kill zombies for sport. But after his winning performance, there's a huge explosion and zombies flood the arena and the nearby malls and casinos that surround it. The military will show up in three days, but that's not exactly a good thing, as someone's released a tape to the media showing Chuck Greene (or a man in his TIR outfit) planting the bomb that let all the zombies in. This gives Chuck three days to clear his name by figuring out what's really going on in Fortune City, while saving additional survivors and procuring more of the increasingly scarce Zombrex to keep his daughter human. In other words, you've got a lot of time pressure to deal with.

Dead Rising 2 eases up some of that pressure by offering you multiple save slots--the first game only had one--which gives you a way to avoid situations where you save your game in an impossible-to-fix situation, such as right before time expires on a critical mission. While some might bemoan the mission timers, it feels like a vital part of the game, and that tension drives all of the action. Getting around and killing the average zombies that attempt to block your path is a breeze, especially if you stop by one of the many maintenance rooms to do a little crafting.

Probably the most common combo weapon of them all.
Crafting weapons and using them is, by far, the coolest part of Dead Rising 2. You'll find all sorts of different things lying around the world that you can pick up and use, from assault rifles to rolled-up newspapers. But some items are marked with a wrench, noting that they can be combined with another item to form something that's usually more deadly. Some of these combos are basic and logical--taking a baseball bat and combining it with a box of nails gets you a spiked baseball bat, for example. But the weapons get weirder and weirder from there, such as the Freedom Bear, which is a machine gun duct-taped to a toy robot bear that normally lights up and smiles when he sees you. After the process is complete, you can set the bear out like a sentry and he'll fire at enemies that enter his sight line. Then there's absolutely devastating stuff like a fire axe strapped to a sledge hammer, making for an extremely heavy, slow-moving weapon that murders any zombie it comes into contact with with a great mix of blunt force and sharp death. And what happens when you combine a flashlight with gems? You get a laser sword, of course. Figuring out these combinations and using them is more entertaining than just about anything the story missions have to offer. As you level up and scour the world, you'll acquire combo cards that tell you what things can be combined and, if you have the card, you'll get twice as many prestige points, which is the game's equivalent to experience points.

The PC version of Dead Rising 2 looks the best and has the most resolution options. It also has Games For Windows Live support, which is nice for fans of Microsoft's achievement system. The Xbox 360 version of the game has some fairly noticeable drops in frame rate, but still looks just fine most of the time. The 360 version also lets you import your level (up to level five) from the downloadable prequel, Case Zero. This will give you a bit of a head start in the 360 version, but getting through those first five levels doesn't take very long at all. So PS3 and PC owners that can't import characters aren't really missing out on much.

Money isn't really much of an object in Dead Rising 2, anyway. The game has a multiplayer mode based on the reality violence show that opens the single-player. It's essentially a four-player minigame collection that involves various ways to murder zombies. Money earned in ranked games can be funneled back into your single-player saves, but beyond that, the minigames aren't much fun and shouldn't be considered a primary draw. The game also has online co-op, letting players jump into your single-player game and assist. This is a fun option, especially for the joining player, since it isn't your playthrough. Time has less of a meaning when you're not messing up your own save, so you can just freely follow the host player and bust heads at will. But the design of the co-op feels like it fell out of a PlayStation 2 game. Joining players also play as Chuck Greene, and the story's cutscenes don't evolve to account for the second player, either. It makes the whole thing feel a little thrown together.

 You'll have a lot of options for changing--or removing your clothes.
The groans of the zombie horde and the sound effects when you clobber them with your various items are all very well done. Splattering zombies with a blunt object sounds appropriately wet and disgusting. The cutscenes usually have pretty good dialogue, though for a game set in Nevada, it's easy to hear Canadian speech mannerisms coming out of the characters here and there. That's not inherently bad, but it sure serves as a constant reminder that most of the heavy lifting for Dead Rising 2's development was done in Vancouver, not Osaka.

Dead Rising 2's kooky structure and occasionally open nature gives it a lot of appeal across many different types of players, but the people who truly love Dead Rising 2 will all have a few things in common. They'll appreciate a challenge, even when it seems like you're occasionally fighting the game mechanics, rather than the boss fight. They'll enjoy playing through a game multiple times, each with a slightly different objective. And they'll probably enjoy running through thousands upon thousands of easy-to-kill zombies. It's also very divisive. Plenty of people will hate the way the game uses time to force a layer of tension onto everything they do. Others will hate the lack of an autosave system, even though adding one of those would inherently change the entire game. Me, I wish the game had better inventory control and an item storage system to allow you to really explore all of your weapon options. But it's the other stuff--the still messy survivor AI and poorly built boss battles--that really mars the Dead Rising 2 experience. It's not an impossible game to love, but as with the first game, you'll have to look past a lot of blemishes to find happiness. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
123 Comments
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Posted by Milkman

OH SH--

Edited by Mysterion

Finally, been waiting for this review
Posted by Hockeymask27

Seems fair. Wont stop me form picking this up and loving it.

Posted by The_Laughing_Man

I still intend to buy this just for the ass crazyness of the weapons. 

Posted by Milkman

Bold but respectable review, Jeff. The comments are sure to explode. 

Posted by Loose
@Milkman said:
" OH SH-- "
Posted by rjayb89

Yup, you hit the nail in the zombie, bro.

Posted by Mr_JPeps

i forgot all about this game till about a week or so ago, so glad its back!!!!!!!

Posted by Wright

splash

Edited by RobotHamster
@Milkman said:

" OH SH-- "

-ARK
Posted by Hot_Karl

Sounds about right. Actually, this is a kinda perfect review stars-wise. It has it's (major and minor) problems, but if you look past that, it's a fun game. And that's what the three-stars symbolizes.

Posted by Phoenix87

I was extremely excited for this game, but its just Dead Rising all over again. Watching the quick look, I almost swore they were playing Dead Rising 1. My interest has really gone out the window. Oh Well.

Posted by evildeadron

extremely fair review and also a shining example of why the text of a review is just as, if not more important than the score
Posted by pbhawks45

I disagree, but I can definitely see where someone would be frustrated and give the game 3/5. I love it, so that's all that matters. OH GOD SO YOU THINK BIONIC COMMANDO>DEAD RISING 2???????!??!?!?? WTFF. Oops.

Posted by Cornman89

This game is just too crazy for me. Cash me out.

Posted by Seraphim84

Glad to see you stood your ground on this one, Jeff.  I'd say the way you were talking about it, you would give it 4 stars for your own enjoyment, but like someone such as myself who couldn't get past the messiness of the franchise, it's really hard to see a game with such problems as worthy of four.
 
For random screenshots alone though, this game merits some sorta crazy machinima.

Posted by spazmaster666
@Phoenix87 said:
" I was extremely excited for this game, but its just Dead Rising all over again. Watching the quick look, I almost swore they were playing Dead Rising 1. My interest has really gone out the window. Oh Well. "
That's what it may seem like at first, and that's kind of what I felt after playing Case Zero. But then I went back and actually tried playing Dead Rising 1 again and boy it's way jankier and way more messed up than Dead Rising 2. It's kind of like what I felt when playing Gears of War 2 in that it's just more Gears, but it's clear if you put the two games side by side just how much Dead Rising 2 has improved upon the original.
 
Anyway, this is pretty much the score I expected from Jeff after watching that QL and hearing him talk about the game on the podcast. Dead Rising is always gonna be a love it or hate it game, thus it's definitely not recommended for everyone just due to style of the game play.
Posted by zitosilva

I think it turned out the way I imagined it would, which means that I don't want to play it. I love the first one, but I hate it with passion at the same time. It demands something out of me that I simply don't have, and it appears that the sequel does the same.

Posted by zombie2011

I didn't mind the first game, but they didn't seem to fix the problems the first game had. So unfortunately this is a pass for me at least until it's a lot cheaper.

Posted by RecSpec

I already failed both main story lines. So I'm just seeking out the boss battles. They are actually pretty fun if you are out looking for them.

Posted by KaosAngel

Ouch.

Posted by zoltan2357

I never got into Dead Rising 1 - I played it a couple of times and it didn't click. However, I got obsessed with Case Zero and that convinced me to buy DR2. After four hours of play, I'd say DR2 is a pretty good game - with the exception of the psychopath battles, which are a huge drag. Completely agree with the review in that regard.
 
I tried playing the original DR after finishing Case Zero, thinking that I'd enjoy it more - but it still didn't click. So I'd say that DR2 is a big improvement over the original. Don't count out DR2 if you didn't like the first one!

Posted by FritzDude

If you still can spit on civilians i will buy this game.

Edited by Brackynews
@KaosAngel said:

" Ouch. "

Ouchally awesome!
If this game can be placed in the same lolwut echelon as 50 Cent Blood on the Sand, I'm all for it.
Posted by Captain_Insano

Dead Rising 2 looks like a good cheaper game purpose. When it comes down in price about $30 or so, then it will be a reasonable purchase.

Posted by Diamond

Basically they were able to make more Dead Rising but it doesn't have the impact of really improved sequels like Uncharted 2, Gears of War 2, and Assassin's Creed 2.
 
Still, I'm more interested and enjoying Dead Rising 2 more than some other games which are more technically proficient.  It's a good game, but won't be talked about in 4 years the same way Dead Rising 1 was.

Posted by Jeffmoocow

Surprised that it only got 3 stars which makes me a little unsure about buying it but I still might.

Posted by Skillface

In before people see 3 stars, don't read the review, flip out, and start questioning everything they hold dear.

Posted by Legend

I respect your opinion, Jeff, but I must disagree, the game is simply fantastic. I wonder if Brad agrees with you on this..

Edited by McDunkin

I think the review is accurate for a single playthrough but considering that Dead Rising doesn't have a difficulty system and loves to throw some pretty messed up side missions at you while you can still bearly navigate the game without losing half your life; I can see why a player could get  fustrated trying to do EVERYTHING that the game asks them to do.  One of the things that is impossible to pick up on without playing the game for a long while is that you kind of just have to leave some of those side missions alone for when you know the game areas better and you can plan out what items you want to grab on the way to side missions.  The game doesn't have a difficulty system so all of the harder challenges come from regular side missions and the brutal acheivements.
 
It's also really helpful to give survivors some basic melee weapons to knock zombies down easily and then waypoint them around while you clear a path or collect items.  They seem to get confused when trying to follow you around while you are snaking through the zombie hoard.  If they take damage you can give them food!  Just waypoint them somewhere and go collect some snacks.
 
That said the time constraints are a lot more forgiving when you get close to the max level and your dude has the movement speed upgrades and melee moves.  I really like the Dead Rising games but they just don't do a good job of informing new players of the games mechanics.  In fact, they don't inform you at all.

Posted by JeanLuc

 Great review as always Jeff.
 
Seems like the perfect score if you ask me. 3 stars according to the giantbomb FAQ means that the game isn't for everyone and your enjoyment will depend on your personal preference. This fits Dead Rising 2 exactly. Some people (like me) will look past its problems and love the game. Others will hate the problems and the game because of them.

Posted by Claude

I can see the value of this game, having read about the love of the first. But this Quick Look bored me, not surprised. I'm glad I skipped the first. Not a game for me.
Posted by damswedon
@VinceNotVance said:
" Sounds about right. Actually, this is a kinda perfect review stars-wise. It has it's (major and minor) problems, but if you look past that, it's a fun game. And that's what the three-stars symbolizes. "
You couldn't be more right.
Posted by EgoCheck616
@damswedon said:
" @VinceNotVance said:
" Sounds about right. Actually, this is a kinda perfect review stars-wise. It has it's (major and minor) problems, but if you look past that, it's a fun game. And that's what the three-stars symbolizes. "
You couldn't be more right. "
^
Posted by GetBentTheVideoGame
@Fragstoff said:
" Canadians shall take over all games "
Speaking as a Canadian, I hope this doesn't happen.
Posted by Napalm

Dead Rising, in it's current state, will never bee a five-star series. This isn't necessarily a band thing, though. The Dead Rising series is all about taking a crapload of terribleness and strange difficulty with an even bigger crapload of awesome and destruction.

Posted by illmatic19

I was done after case zero. Maybe at a reduced price point, I'll pick this up.

Posted by DaBuddaDa

Sounds like this game is plagued by a lot of unjustified "gameyness" that makes it less fun than it should be.

Edited by GoldSoundz

I can forgive a lot of the weird concepts in this game, but the biggest issue by far is the psychopath fights.  They are the most poorly designed "boss battles" I have encountered since the first game.  The psychopaths themselves are interesting characters, and without these characters the game would be worse off, but there are countless ways to make them enjoyable bosses to fight.  Mimic pretty much any other game with a boss fight that's ever been made and the game would already be better off in that regard.  The dirtbike psycho riding around the outdoor section almost drove me nuts.  It didn't help that I was also trying to escort survivors across the courtyard that were constantly getting hit by him.  Do not try to justify these psychopath fights, because you can't.  They're awful--end of story.
 
Loading times are my other main gripe with the game, but other than that I am having one of the best single player experiences so far this year.

Edited by Yummylee

I agree completely. Especially with the psychopath boss battles. Most are just a test of your patience and frustration limit. 
 
Also to beat Slappy, you just need to jump kick him as he charges at you, then just smack him whatever you have. A few--or maybe alot depending your level--will have him beat.  
 
Also surprised to why Jeff reviewed this over Brad, since he gave the score for the Case Zero prequel before it.

Online
Posted by SethPhotopoulos

That wasn't what I expected. 
 
Quick looks are devious.

Online
Edited by Godlyawesomeguy

I enjoyed everything about the original game except the boss fights, time limits and mission structure. I will stick to the first one.

Posted by Mayu_Zane

Being a fan of DR1, and being the kind of gamer who doesn't mind jankiness if there's a lot of potential for fun to be had, I'll pick this up and give it a go.

Posted by Tonic7

I think a lot of people already had their minds made up as to whether or not DR2 was a game for them. It doesn't interest me at all, but I could see how some people would enjoy it. 
 
Also, drill bucket.

Posted by Nakirendral

 I must say, while I agree with Jeff's review on many levels, I myself fall into the Masochist gamer division (also the name of my Emo-Punk Band!). The game mechanics are clunky and have a general "Capcom" feel to them; the AI can be dumb and clearly stuck in its own loops; the Psychos are designed to be beaten by using a flaw in their programming, over actually "prevailing" over them. But, I love it all and hope for more. Something about playing a game this flawed and still satisfying my blutlust for dark crimson zombi blut really gets me happy. A healthy 4 Stars in my book.

Edited by HydraHam

First review i have disagreed with in along time, the game for me is easily a 5/5 but it's not everyone's cup of tea, i have had the most fun with this game then any other game this year and i have only played about 2 hours and haven't even dived into coop/online other then once.
 
Does it have gameplay flaws? what game doesn't? does it have the best graphics? no but it does it have awesome and fun gameplay? yes and that is what matters most to me, is the story original and amazing? no, nore was uncharted 2 or mass effect 2's but they were both entertaining.
 
like i said not everyone is going to love it, most will rate it a 3/5 but for me 5/5 because it delivers on everything i want in a game, fun, fun and fun.
 
 @KaosAngel said:

" Ouch. "

  Why ouch? because someones opinion on the game isn't a 5/5? not everyone is going to give everything a 5/5 and 3/5 isn't a bad rating, ouch is only for people who let others decide what games they should play and what games are good, this is why i don't factor in reviews when buying games or renting, i like to make my own mind up and don't get me wrong its a great review but IMO its at least a 4/5, most will give it 3 because of graphics and soem gameplay flaws, it's a shame anything loses points because of graphics but then again im the kind of gamer that does not care what the game looks like, i dont care if its a next gen system and should have better graphics, you want pretty buy a pc
Posted by radioactivez0r

I feel like I've had an epiphany after reading/seeing so much about DR/CZ/DR2.  In most games that encourage multiple playthroughs (action games with collectibles, higher difficulties, etc), one plays through the story first, then goes back to do it again and find the stuff they didn't find, and so forth.  In DR, you play the exact opposite way - play through 2, 3 times doing weird achievements, saving survivors, finding combo weapons, wreaking bloody havoc, until Chuck is as leveled up and as strong, fast, and badass as he is gonna be - THEN do the story.  Do I finally get this franchise?  I didn't understand the time limit structure but the combo weapon mechanic was so tempting...maybe it's a purchase for me now.

Posted by kratier

i think its funny you say all the issues with this game, but then you praise 5/5 with civ 5, which has a lot more game breaking issues and errors.

Edited by Chaser324

Personally, I'm really liking this game in spite of its glaring flaws. Just like the original Dead Rising, this is a real love it or hate it type of game.
 
@kratier said:

" i think its funny you say all the issues with this game, but then you praise 5/5 with civ 5, which has a lot more game breaking issues and errors. "

...What exactly are these "game breaking issues and errors" in Civ V? While Ryan has demonstrated himself to be far less than an expert in the realm of Civ or turn-based strategy games in general, I think he provided a pretty solid and fair evaluation of it.
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Posted by DriveupLife

Hey guess what? It's Dead Rising. A lot of people didn't like it, but I'm not one of them.

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