Dead Rising 2 Review
By -- Richard J.
Before this review, Dead Rising was a series I was completely foreign to. I was intrigued by the zombie slaughtering gameplay, but never aligned with the opportunity to get my hands on it. Now that I have played Dead Rising 2, I can tell you that my feelings about it are mixed. Parts of the game are fantastic and keep me coming back, but other parts are horribly frustrating and leave me wanting to snap my controller in half. Despite the frustration, I have put in quality time with Dead Rising 2 and I think I like the series.
While it may not be the best part of the experience, Dead Rising 2 does try to push story heavily. When you aren't mindlessly chopin' zombies for PP, a well structured story is presented. You play the game as Chuck Greene, a former motocross champion who has now moved onto the latest thrill sport, Terror is Reality. TiR is presented like a game show, and has its contestants running down zombies with chain saw bearing motorcycles for points. After winning his latest competition, he isn't treated very well and considers why he even does the sport. But there isn't time to mope. While in the dressing room, Chuck sees a news report about zombies being unleashed into Fortune City, Nevada where TiR is being held. Chuck quickly grabs his daughter Katey and tries to bring her to safety while running through mobs of zombies. Chuck finally finds a safe house and attempts to hide Katey there. He is Chuck is stopped by the officer running the safe house because he sees a zombie bite on Katey. Chuck explains it is old and promises to bring Zombrex to Katey every 24 hours until the military comes to save them in 72 hours. Without any Zombrex, it's a race against time for Chuck to get some.
But it doesn't end there. After the first Case, Chuck is accused of being the person who let the zombies in, and is obviously being framed. It's no longer just a quest for Chuck to get enough Zombrex for Katey, but also for Chuck to prove his innocence. As I said, this isn't Dead Rising 2's strongest aspect. The story is well fleshed out, but lacks a lot. There are a bunch of characters, but almost all of them are emotion less and feel distant. There is no reason for players to root for any of the characters. Of course we want Chuck to be proved innocent, but there is no reason for us to go out of our way to get emotionally attached to him. Throughout the story there are also quite a few events, but none of them are particularly interesting. Then to cap it off, the game ends on a bit of a dud.
The gameplay between story sections may have a lot of zombie chopin', but there is a lot more than just that basic image of the Dead Rising series. The game is broken up into cases which are missions Chuck must undertake. These missions involve finding locations, finding people, saving people, and killing people called "Psychos". Saving people can be done at any time. You simply find a person, talk to them, give them a weapon, and run to the safe house as they follow you. This works good, but could be better. First, talking with survivors is difficult. You must push the selection button multiple times just to have a full conversation and convince them to follow. Second, unless you enter another area with the survivors very close, they will get left behind. These aren't huge problems, but do get frustrating. Fighting Psychos is like entering a boss fight. The only difference is that the boss fights in Dead Rising 2 are incredibly difficult. Most psycho fights are incredibly unfair for the player, and sometimes require multiple playthroughs of the game in order to beat them all.
All of this gameplay revolves around a level system. Doing everything mentioned above will earn you PP, which is kind of like experience. Once enough PP is collected, you will move up to the next level. When you reach certain levels, you gain more inventory slots for items and gain more health slots. Due to this level system, I like to play Dead Rising 2 as an action RPG. If you want to earn even more PP per zombie kill, you can combine certain items inside of maintenance rooms spread throughout fortune city. You can add nails to baseball bats, add 2x4's to a lawnmower, add blades to boxing gloves, and beyond.
Overall the gameplay is what makes Dead Rising 2 what it is. Massacering hundreds of zombies is this series iconic hook, and Dead Rising 2 doesn't stop that flow. Personally, I get incredibly frustrated with how cut throat the gameplay is. There were multiple times when I died and lost a few levels because I didn't save constantly. Despite this, I got hooked and couldn't quit despite the pain.
The graphics in Dead Rising 2 are pretty "meh". The characters look okay, and the physics are pretty good, but nothing is eye popping. The zombies look really good, but the sheer amount tends to drop the graphical quality. Thankfully, I suffered absolutely no slowdown while running through Fortune City. Sometimes the areas within Fortune City, especially the mall, suffer from some mild pop-in problems. However that isn't very noticeable unless you are looking for it. One thing that really impresses me about the graphics in Dead Rising 2 is how whatever you are wearing in-game shows up on Chuck during cut scenes. This obviously isn't a huge thing, but I think it is great personally. Other than that the graphics are good, but nothing fantastic.
Sound wise, Dead Rising 2 is mixed. While running through Fortune City you hear some very Las Vegas eschew music that fits with the game perfectly. There is nothing like smashing zombies while listening to elevator music. While creating combination weapons, some hard-rock/metal plays in the background, but I was disappointed with the lack of it throughout the rest of the game. Elevator music is funny while killing zombies, but hard-rock/metal would fight the game better. However, the voice acting in Dead Rising 2 is far from great. All of the characters have an odd, "Canadian" accent and the actors don't have any emotion. Everything voice-over wise seems a bit off, but I can't really put my finger on what it exactly is. It seems that a combination of everything comes together to make me against the voice acting in Dead Rising 2.
The replay value in Dead Rising 2 is another one of its high points. If you can't get enough of chopping zombies and gaining levels by yourself, you can bring in a co-op player online. In co-op both players play through the main campaign with their own Chuck's, but play side-by-side. Also included is an online competitive version of Terror is Reality. Gamers can compete against over gamers online, with the winners getting cash which they can use in their main campaign. Dead Rising 2 is a game that is perfect for multiplayer, and I am glad that Capcom and Blue Castle took advantage of this.
When it all comes together, Dead Rising 2 is a great game with some pretty big flaws. The story and graphics are meh, and the voice overs are horrible. However, the gameplay, soundtrack, and replay value are fantastic. While the game may get frustrating at times, sticking with it to the end is a very rewarding experience... until a psycho kills you after three hits and you lose the last 5 hours of play time.
- Fantastic and addictive gameplay
- Great soundtrack
- Huge amount of replay value
- Story is pretty bad
- Graphics are meh
- Terrible voice overs