Capcom’s "Dead Rising 2" successfully blends the action, horror and RPG genres into an engrossing experience that begs to be played over and over again. Making a departure from the first game, "Dead Rising 2" features a new protagonist named Chuck Greene; taking place in the extravagant mall/casino complex known as Fortune City. While the majority of the gameplay remains unchanged, a handful of changes have been made, including the removal of the camera in favor of a combo weapon system.
The story follows Chuck Greene, a former motocross champion and a contestant on the pay per view television program "Terror is Reality." One night, after competing on an episode of "Terror is Reality," Fortune City is overrun and Chuck and his daughter Katey are forced to take shelter in a safe house and wait for rescue. The story does a decent job of giving players objectives to complete through the mall, and gives players the option to play the remainder of the game even if they fail to finish the objectives. Because players aren’t restricted to follow the story, the game feels like a massive sandbox where players can do exactly what they want, and restart at any time if they want to know the story.
The "Dead Rising" series uses a leveling system based on experience gained through the game known as prestige points. Earning prestige points is an essential part of succeeding in "Dead Rising 2" because Chuck starts off rather frail. As he levels up, Chuck learns attack moves that allow him to fight zombies without weapons. In addition to new attacks, Chuck also receives boosts to his health, inventory size and other traits.
Part of the charm of the original "Dead Rising" came from the fact that almost anything found in the mall could be used as a weapon against the hordes of the undead. "Dead Rising 2" adds the ability to combine weapons together into flashier and much more powerful ones that are particularly devastating like the paddle-saw or the laser sword. Fortunately, the combo weapons reward players with extra prestige points. As players progress through the game, they collect combo cards that increase the effectiveness of the weapons they create as well as adding extra attacks to them.
Atmosphere has always been an important aspect of the "Dead Rising" series, and the newest addition succeeds in recreating the same kind of cheery and care-free environment as in the first game. Fortune City is huge and it’s likely that players might not get to see all of it their first time through. Each of the stores and casinos has been given its own distinct personality and Capcom has thrown in a number of references to some of their other games.
Similar to the first game, Greene isn’t the only person still alive in the mall. Scattered throughout Fortune City are survivors and psychopaths, who serve as both side quests and bosses. Players will be presented with opportunities to save fellow humans that are still trapped in Fortune City, or deal with those who have gone insane. It isn’t necessary, but saving survivors has plenty of benefits including massive prestige point bonuses. Unlike in the original "Dead Rising", survivors in "Dead Rising 2" are much tougher and will charge through zombies to keep up with Greene. Additionally, they seem to take directions much better and will often try to take the shortest route if you tell them to go somewhere. Because of their improvements, saving survivors is much less of a hassle and makes the game much more enjoyable. The psychopaths have remained unchanged for the most part, serving as extra powerful enemies with specific attack patterns that you should avoid if you want to survive.
The ability to play online is new to the "Dead Rising" series and in some ways it feels rather shallow. Players are able to play one of two online modes. The first mode is the ability to join another player in the story mode. While playing in another person’s game, you are unable to make any progress in your own story and only the prestige points and money you find are sent back to your file as a result. Despite the limitations of the cooperative play, it’s ideal for people who want a break from the pressures of the story. The second online mode is known as "Terror is Reality," and entails four players competing with one another in zombie-themed mini games for money and other prizes. "Terror is Reality" can be played at any time and has no impact on your story or character, however, you can import the money you make into one of your story files.
Despite all of the steps forward, there are a few issues that may bother new or returning players. One of the most notable flaws is the frequent and lengthy loading screens. Every time there is a cut scene or the player enters a new area a loading screen pops up for a few seconds, throwing off the pace of the game. While the graphics in "Dead Rising 2" are better than in the original, there is room for improvement, especially with what current consoles are capable of.
While it isn’t flawless, the game is an excellent sequel and a great time for people looking to play at their own pace.
Platforms: Xbox-360, PS3
Developer: Blue Castle Games
Directed by: Keiji Inafune