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Dead Rising 2 Review: Another 72 Hrs.

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At first I didn't know how to write about Dead Rising 2, and when I say that, I want to specify that I didn't know what perspective to take on the game when reviewing it. That's because Dead Rising 2 exists in a few different spaces. There is Dead Rising 2 the game, the design, and the sequel, and sadly I may be the only person who saw the game existing in those three different spaces.

Dead Rising 2 The Game.
As a game Dead Rising 2 is fairly solid. It puts you in the role of Chuck Greene, who is something of a zombie killing Evel Knievel Chuck however has a daughter who is infected with the virus/plague and that forces him into being a contestant on a game showw called “Terror is Reality” so that he can earn enough cash to keep his daughter supplied with Zombrex, an expensive medication that keeps precious little Katey from turning all undead like. Things turn grim when the zombies get loose, and people start becoming zombie chow. You quickly find out that rescue isn't going to show up for another 72 hours, and worse, that you've been framed for the whole outbreak. So you've got 72 hours to survive, clear your name of any wrongdoing, and find as much anti zombie medicine as possible.

But you don't really have 72 hours. You have 72 hours in the context of how time passes in the game, which by my calculation is a little over or under 10 or 12 hours of game time. While it may be nitpicking to some, I really think that if a game says you get 72 hours, that you should get 72 hours. And if they don't have enough content to fill that amount of time, then they'd be better served keeping quiet. Secondly most of the game consists of running around the Fortune City Malls, and Casinos from location to location either to complete objectives, locate meds, or to round up survivors. The same problems that started creeping up in the first game, show their ugly heads before long. Cheap boss fights, and horrendously bad survivor AI are the most immediate things that hamper the game, but before long, little things creep up on you. Things like... why can't I sprint? Why can't I crouch? Why are guns so hopelessly useless against rotting walking corpses, but kick my own ass so bad? Those little annoyances creep up more than I care to admit. Thankfully, the game does have some amazing core elements holding it up. Crafting weapons out of spare parts, and then turning those creations loose on the undead results in a sensation of joy that never gets old. Having a mall and casinos as giant playgrounds is equally entertaining, and the fact that there are literally thousands of shuffling brain munchers on screen at once is also a small feat unto itself. And if you haven't played Dead Rising already, you should know that the controls are about as complex as Dynasty Warriors, though I wish the Xbox controller would shake just a bit more, whenever I crowned a zombie with a baseball bat.

So ultimately, the game is a mixed bag. Especially with the constantly running clock, that doesn't even give you the courtesy of giving you the time it says you have. And if you've played any Resident Evil story, then you know the game isn't over when the clock runs down, or when rescue is supposed to show up, and Dead Rising 2 is no exception to that rule. The game that seems at first to run short, becomes very unevenly paced toward the end. By the time you get there, you just think to yourself, I wish the game would have just let me kill more zombies, because really, that's the best bit of the whole thing.

Dead Rising 2 The Design.
As a study into design, Dead Rising 2 is something a little different. It showcases a Capcom that is struggling to find balance and comfort with themselves shifting to further accommodate westerners. Interestingly enough, Dead Rising 2 does a better job than say Lost Planet 2 did earlier this year, but the end result is a game that still can't escape it's roots in the land of the rising sun. As you play Dead Rising 2, you realize very quickly that with the most minimal effort this game could made into an arcade cabinet, because it plays like an arcade game. I can't put my finger on it, but something about this game is just off. The boss fights especially bother me because of how indestructible the bosses are without resorting to cheap tactics that remind me of when games came in bits. The game playing to old school roots, wouldn't be such a distraction however if they had just chosen some better tropes to march out. But the thought that I can punch a boss in the mouth with a pair of boxing gloves covered in knives, and they won't so much as flinch doesn't sit well with me, and momentarily makes me think I'm playing a Mega Man game instead of a survival horror, action romp. And although there is the addition of co-op and multiplayer, it's still not quite where Capcom needs to be in terms of hitting the western mark dead on, something I find tremendously interesting in the face of Square-Enix and the incredible success they've been having adapting to the western market. While Dead Rising 2 is the closest that Capcom has ever come to hitting that comfortable stride, it could do a lot better to escape it's heredity

Dead Rising 2 The Sequel.
I don't know if it does enough to build on the formula that the first game established, but I like the additions that are there. I just wish that this game would have done more to distance itself from the first game... but it's another mall, and another 72 hours. And although that sounds like the best title ever for an Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte buddy zombie comedy (72 Hours, Another 72 Hours.) it's not exactly the most innovative thing as far as the series is concerned. Really the shining gems here are the combined weapons, and the new online features. But really, it's the same game in a different setting, but the setting just isn't different enough.

Dead Rising 2 as a whole is a game that's addictive, frustrating, short, repetitive, and loads of fun when it's doing everything right. But it's so unevenly paced, that I can't say that you're a fool for not buying it. But at the same time I can say you probably won't regret it. The multiplayer is fun, and a nice addition but won't switch you over from that other multiplayer menagerie of undeath, and the single player game, while short, is addictive, and provides enough replay value to justify a purchase. So pick it up, if only because it never gets old running through a crowd of zombies wearing a pair of flaming Moose antlers.

Dead Rising 2 is available now for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC
It was developed by Dark Castle Games, and published by Capcom

This review was made possible by

Steve Sawyer
Editor in Chief

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Updated 08-10-10 at 05:57 by SteveSawyer

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