I was a huge fan of Capcom’s 2006 sleeper hit “Dead Rising” (“DR”) The game was a tribute to all things zombie, from George A. Romero’s “Dead” films, particularly “Dawn of the Dead,” to Capcom’s “Resident Evil” series, with equal parts silliness and terror.
I was excited to hear in 2009 that Capcom was releasing a sequel. However, I tend to view sequels to great games with a bit of skepticism. For every “Resident Evil 2” or “Mass Effect 2” that build upon the successful formula, there’s a “Devil May Cry 2” or “Manhunt 2” that crap all over it. The best sequels maintain the elements that made their predecessors successful while correcting flaws and incorporating new elements to enhance the experience. “Dead Rising 2” (“DR 2”), fortunately, falls into the former category and, like DR, is an absolute blast.
In many ways, DR 2 follows the same basic storyline as DR. The protagonist, Chuck Greene, is trapped inside a mall in the midst of a zombie infestation and has 72 game-hours (each in-game minute is equivalent to a few seconds) to survive before help arrives. The mall in Dead Rising was big; the mall in Dead Rising 2 is massive and includes casinos, a hotel and an arena set in the Las Vegas-esque Fortune City. DR 2 adds a twist, however. Chuck’s daughter, Katey, is infected with the zombie virus and Chuck must find a drug called Zombrex and administer an injection to Katey every 24 hours to keep her from turning. Chuck must also battle a host of colorful Vegas-themed psychopaths, including a Siegfried and Roy knockoff and a washed-up lounge singer. As if this weren’t enough, Chuck also has to save survivors he finds along the way and bring them back to the safe room.
You will often have several tasks to complete, each with time limits. Thus, you are forced to plan the order in which you pursue your tasks in order to complete them all before before time expires. In my first playthrough, I was unable to finish every task, though I finished most of them. This really adds to the replay factor of DR 2, since you will want to play a second and third time to complete all of the tasks. It helps that your stats carry over through multiple playthroughs.
The environments are drastically improved over the original. Fortune City looks and feels like Las Vegas, whereas the mall in DR was somewhat nondescript. Capcom did a great job of incorporating Vegas-style elements into the game, from zombie showgirls to the aforementioned psychopaths and even Elvis-style costumes that Chuck can wear. The character models aren’t drastically improved from the original but it doesn’t take anything away from the game. The voice acting is very good. The music is pretty much the same music as the original — there’s generic mall music, cheesy casino rock music and heavy metal for the psychopath battles.
Where DR 2 really shines is zombie killing. Fortunately, there’s a lot of zombies to kill, much more than the original. The sheer number of zombies on screen at one time is mind boggling, no doubt contributing to the lengthy load times. It’s worth it, however, because it allows for plenty of zombie fodder for DR 2’s brilliant new feature – mixing weapons. Scattered throughout the map are workbenches where you can combine basic weapons together to make more powerful ones. For example, combining boxing gloves and motor oil will give you flaming gloves. Combining nails and a baseball bat gives you a spiked bat. There are dozens of combinations, all of which allow for brutal kills. As sadistic as it may sound, some can actually be quite amusing, such as the teddy bear with an assault rifle.
Overall, DR 2 is a great game and a must-have for fans of the original. Even PS3 owners, who didn’t have a chance to play the original, should check it out. I also recommend downloading Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, which serves as a prequel to DR 2’s main story. Case Zero does a great job of introducing the clock system, combining weapons and rescuing survivors, all of which are essential components of the game. Also, be on the lookout for Dead Rising 2: Case West, arriving this holiday season, which serves as an epilogue to DR2’s story and features Chuck teaming up with Frank West, the protagonist from the original. Though you could wait until spring to pick up a used copy, we all know that fall is zombie season, so head out and pick up DR 2 today. — Pedro Moreno
Rating: 4.5 Little Goombas out of 5