|Review: Dead Rising 2|
Monday, 11 October 2010 17:42
Zombies – or the walking dead – are probably one of the more immediate fictional threats to humankind.
More so than vampires or werewolves, since the zombie 'condition' is more terminal and usually very contagious. Once bitten, twice zombies.
Think back to all those zombie movies over the years. It almost never ends well for the protagonists and there's a definite apocalyptic feel to anything involving zombies.
But, you shouldn't write off Dead Rising 2 (DR2) just because you have a zombie aversion. The game panders to both folks who have a sadistic side and those who are zombie-phobic. One of the more prominent zombie horror survival games is Resident Evil, a franchise where you're truly terrified of the decaying dawdlers ambling around, arms outstretched and just waiting to munch your grey matter.
Coincidentally, Capcom owns both franchises, but the only thing Resident Evil and Dead Rising have in common are the zombies – the latter just makes things a whole lot more extreme.
Players take on the role of Chuck Greene, a contestant in a reality TV show called Terror is Reality, filmed at a sports stadium in a fictional Las Vegas. With the game's events taking place a while after those in the first game, it depicts a society that has accepted the zombies and started using them for entertainment. The game show sees Chuck and his fellow contestants aiming for the most zombie kills in the most extreme ways possible.
This is just the opening scene, though. Soon after Chuck is introduced, things go very south, very fast. Zombies manage to escape from the holding area, and our hero finds himself the innocent victim of some dodgy security camera footage. For whatever reason, somebody is out to get him and a lot of people are dying as a result.
A good hero story wouldn't be a good hero story without our protagonist taking it upon himself to clear his name and rescue some folks. Of course, things are not that simple. His daughter, Katie, has been infected and needs daily doses of a drug called Zombrex.
Adding to that, proper help, with military backup, is 72-hours away. Thankfully, Chuck and Katie manage to hole up in a safe room, with a handful of other survivors, so she can stay safe while he ventures out to investigate, and get some meds.
Truth be told, the story in Dead Rising 2 is secondary to the zombie killing. The narrative is there merely as a vehicle through which players can get objectives, and those objectives help gain experience.
Experience results in levelling up, which unlocks more zombie-busting kung-fu moves. But close-quarters combat is a sure way to get yourself into trouble. Even though DR2's zombie hordes are quite slow and dim-witted, up to seven thousand undead can be on screen at any one time. This increases your chances of getting bit, while kicking butt.
To help fend off the walking dead there are a number of weapons in the game: shotguns, rifles, grenades – the ordinary; umbrellas, baseball bats, chairs and lawnmowers – the impromptu. And then there are combo weapons – the extraordinary. Certain 'normal' items in DR2 can be combined with others to make truly marvellous weapons of mass zombie destruction.
Tie a lawnmower to a wheelchair and push that through a crowd. Perhaps a rowing oar with a chainsaw taped to either end? The options are limited, but the entertainment value is not.
Combo weapons are definitely the centrepiece of the game play; I spent more time looking for things to combine in a quest to discover all 55 combo weapons (without looking at one of the online lists). It's just sad that combo weapons don't last very long. While using them will gain a lot more experience points than regular weapons, they degrade rapidly and have limited ammunition.
Where DR2 also improves on its predecessor is in the size of the world. Fortune City is enormous when compared to the first game's strip-mall setting. In fact, Dead Rising 2 has a complete mall. And a theme park. And a hotel and a casino – each offering new ways in which to mulch the murderous masses.
Given the game's over-the-top nature, the story gets more ridiculous as you go along. Depending on your choices in the game, and which missions you complete (or fail to complete – including letting Katie turn into a zombie), there are different endings. Each is silly, but that's not the point. As long as you caused as much carnage as possible along the way, your job is done.
With multiple endings there is a decent amount of replay value. Players can also share in the fun by hosting co-operative games online (where supported), while competitive multiplayer cleverly takes the form of the Terror is Reality game show.
Here, up to four contestants can take part in various events to see who can murder the most zombies, or even use dirty tactics to prevent others from scoring – something to ensure people don't take it too seriously. After all, when things get this ridiculous, it's best to switch off your thinking brain and let the fun centres enjoy the ride.
Good: Hilarious; inventive weapons
Bad: May be too violent for some; time constraints
Price: R399 (PC), R699 (console)
Contact: Nu Metro Interactive – www.capcom.com
Tested on: Xbox 360
Also available on: PS3, PC
Genre: Third-person action
Age rating: 18+
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