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Old 10-07-2010, 09:52 PM   #1
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Please Rate This Review: Dead Rising 2

You Say You Want a Zomb-olution

HIGH Re-enacting the lawnmower scene from "Dead Alive" by combining a mower and some 2x4s.

LOW An entire horde of zombies shuffling between you and a Save Point with no health in sight.

WTF Of all the games that should have an arcade-style Survival mode, why isn't this one of them?

The original "Dead Rising" was a game I desperately wanted to like, but was ultimately unable to-- largely because it seemed intent on my not enjoying it. The zombie-killing on a mass scale with improvised weaponry was a great idea, but unfortunately director Keiji Inafune failed to get the memo that nobody cares about the story itself of a zombie movie/game/comic book/whatever, and proceeded to set up a vast conspiracy-mystery that you were obligated to uncover while the game time gradually ticked down the 3 days until you were rescued.

This was a problem for me because I was just in it for the over-the-top zombie-cide but the constantly dwindling timer bars for each mission always made me feel a little guilty, as if the game was tapping its heel patiently waiting for me to stop enjoying myself and get back to its precious narrative. And when you feel like you have to choose between having fun and going through the story, something has clearly gone wrong.

So what does "Dead Rising 2" do that the first game didn't to win me over? Not a whole lot.

The premise of "DR2" is that main-character Chuck Greene and his daughter are trapped inside the Vegas-like town of Fortune City after a zombie outbreak, and for the 72 hours until rescue you must level up, save trapped people, keep your kid from getting zombified by giving her a special medication once every day, and discover who's really behind the outbreak.

Something I noticed about "Dead Rising 1" that's confirmed here is that the series isn't sure about what tone it wants to have. It delivers its story as if it were a serious dramatic affair with deep social commentary (apparently there's an organization that-- I'm not kidding-- fights for zombie equality AND we are indeed supposed to take them seriously), but zombie dispatching is an often spectacularly gruesome, amusing affair. I find it a little insincere that a game that rewards you for killing zombies is also trying to act like killing zombies is a bad thing, nevermind a mixed message for people who bought the game to do exactly that.

Anyway, the game itself. So after doing my best to stick with the story and after fighting my way through a small group of armed mercenaries (and for the record, let me state that "DR's" control scheme is NOT conducive to third-person gun combat), I apparently insta-failed the mission because the timer bar for each one also applies to completion, and by that time I'd run out. So I decided screw it, I'm just going to do what I bought this game to do, and set out to systematically knock off every zombie in Not-Really-Vegas.

Gameplay itself is fine in terms of the basic melee combat, but what strikes me is how many archaic design choices clutter the experience. Checkpoints are nonexistant, so you'd better save every chance you get or else you lose all your progress between them (and if you do happen to get sucked into the game and put off saving in order to do the ol' "just one more" thing, you're going to get screwed over by your foolish desire to enjoy yourself). There's no 'sprint' option-- and for a game like this, in which you are on a gigantic timer and very frequently have to get somewhere in a hurry, not being able to move quickly even for a brief period is just cruel. Oh, and there's the fact that no matter where you find a survivor there is only one entrance to the Safe Room, so locating someone on the far end of the gameworld can literally mean a long hike through the zombie horde all the way back to the goddamn starting point, even after you get access to underground tunnels to speed things up a bit.

But what really frustrated me was the reality of one of "DR2's" big selling points-- Custom Weapon Building. There are Maintenance Rooms scattered all over Fortune City, and if you happen to have two compatible items you can take them there and put them together like a cross between the kid from "Home Alone" and Rube Goldberg. Alot of these are incredibly inventive and hilarious to watch in action (like one called the "Air Horn" that literally makes zombie heads explode), but while you can theoretically make a Combo at any time if you happen to have the stuff, it only 'counts' for the vital XP boost if you happen to have the corresponding Combo Card. Which you only get from either levelling up or from checking random posters in the mall that you wouldn't even think to look at.

What exactly is the point of this completely arbitrary restriction? I can exercise a bit of cleverness whenever I want to, but I'm only rewarded for it when I get an asinine little Card at some random point telling me what I already know? Shouldn't these be something you get as a result of experimenting, for taking a risk with your vital and scarce resources? You know, for playing the game?

Oh, and there's also a multiplayer mode in which you and 3 other people play a series of zombie-killing minigames in the context of the game's "Terror Is Reality" TV show, but barring the cash you can use in single -player (a brilliant tactic to force people to play it, since the only way to make big money in the campaign is gambling, something no game has ever been improved for relying upon), there's not much reason to bother with it.

If you liked the original "Dead Rising" then you'll probably like this one, seeing as it is basically more of the same, but the only time the game ever came alive for me was whenever I was going against what I was supposed to be doing. To an extent I can respect Inafune's efforts to tie a 'real-time' narrative to an open-world game, except that the entire point of a sandbox setup is to allow the player to set their own pace for when they want to tool around and when they want to follow along with the story.

Granted, I do appreciate a good game story (which isn't here anyway), but if I wanted to get weighed down in appointments I wouldn't spend my precious free time playing this-- I'd just go out into real life. That at least doesn't cost sixty bucks right out the gate.

Disclosures: This game was obtained at Gamestop and reviewed on the Playstation 3. Approximately 35 hours of play were devoted to single-player (completed once) and 3 hours of play to the "Terror is Reality" multiplayer mode. No time was spent in online co-op.

Parents: "Dead Rising 2" is rated M for Mature by the ESRB for excessive blood, gore and violence, often featuring weapons improvised from common objects. There is also occasional profanity and sexual innuendo in the dialogue.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: All prerendered cutscenes have optional subtitles, and in-game dialogue is conveyed through text blocks rather than spoken. Tutorials feature on-screen text for visual reference.
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:46 PM   #2
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Dead Rising 2

Originally Posted by BebopSamurai View Post
I find it a little insincere that a game that rewards you for killing zombies is also trying to act like killing zombies is a bad thing, nevermind a mixed message for people who bought the game to do exactly that.
I don't think the game would be trying to *convince* the gamer that killing zombies is a bad thing. I have yet to play Dead Rising 2, but I'm assuming it's a commentry on the ridiclous "anti-this" and "pro-that" groups you get in real life. An example of a game deterring you from killing would be something like, say, (and don't laugh!) GTA; you kill, then there is a chance the police will go after you. Or Fallout, where you'd get bad karma. A game trying to send the message "killing zombies is wrong!" wouldn't then throw a load of hilarious makeshift weapons into your view to not kill zombies with

Other than that (which even others may disagree with me about), I thought this was a pretty good review. Tells me a lot about the game (and, this being a game I am looking to perhaps buying soon, I will be taking this review into account), and it kept my attention.

My only other problem is that I don't think you mention a single good point about the game; come on, you have absolutely *nothing* good to say about it...!? It's a bit too one-sided for me to justify giving this above three out of five stars, otherwise I can imagine I would have given it a four.

Last edited by JLB1987; 10-08-2010 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:13 PM   #3
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Dead Rising 2

I kind of thought that's what they were going for with the CURE group at first-- kind of like the epilogue of "Shaun of the Dead" where it's talking about people defending their zombie spouses and such but it's clearly intended to be a joke-- however, the way they are portrayed in-game is dead serious. They are the 'good guys,' and main-character Chuck feels bad for having to kill zombies. Not enough of a problem to keep him from killing them with makeshift flamethrowers and rocket launchers though.

I did mention that I liked the zombie-killing itself and the improvised weapons were certainly fun, but every time I found myself getting sucked into the game there was some frustration that threw me back out. Like I said, people who liked the first game will probably have a good time with it but "Dead Rising" has just never really clicked with me personally.
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