PC Dead Rising 2

Scott Tortorice

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Let’s get one thing out of the way: Dead Rising 2 is the best 2010 game that no one is playing, yet it should be on everyone’s list for Game of the Year honors. Unfortunately for DR2, that prize is usually reserved for the Gears of War, Mario’s and Halo’s of the industry. Is DR2 perfect? Not at all, but it does have the perfect combination of fun gameplay, an awesome cast of characters and a very strong story.

Meet Chuck

The first Dead Rising was released back in 2006 for the Xbox 360. In it, players assumed the roll of Frank West, a photojournalist heading to Willamette, Colorado to investigate why the town has been sealed off from the outside world. Once there, West finds himself trapped in the local mall surrounded by an endless horde of zombies with only 72 hours to find the information for his big story. What West does find is that the zombie infestation originated from government experiments near the town of Santa Cabeza.

Dead Rising 2 takes place five years after the events in Willamette in the resort town of Fortune City, Nevada. The hero this time around is Chuck Green, a motocross champion in town to participate in the reality game show, Terror is Reality XVII. Chuck is no stranger to the horrors that the zombie horde present - he lost his wife from the zombie outbreak in Las Vegas and his daughter suffers from the infection thanks to a bite received in the same outbreak. Chuck is ultimately forced to participate in the controversial game show in order to afford a constant supply of Zombrex, a drug that helps stave off zombification for a limited amount of time. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a zombie outbreak happens while in Fortune City and Chuck is blamed for it. He has 72 hours to find out who caused the outbreak and clear his name before the government sends in the troops to wipe Fortune City from the face of the earth.

It would be really easy to write-off the story of Dead Rising 2, but it does happen to be quite good. It is cliché and, yes, it’s not overly original, but its seriousness is a stark contrast to DR2’s gameplay which is light hearted and fun. There is an interesting story development about two-thirds through the game that has a very Resident Evil feel to it and a nice plot twist near the end of the game that should come as a surprise to gamers with a satisfying outcome.

Of Survivors and Psychopaths

Gameplay in the Dead Rising series is, in a word, unique. It’s a third person action game set in a sandbox open-world environment where freedom, variety and creativity are rewarded. There is a structured mission system that will help guide players along, but only the main story missions are required to progress through the game as everything else is optional.

A key component to Dead Rising is survivor rescues and the psychopath fights. Occasionally, players will receive missions that inform them there is a person or group of people that need rescuing somewhere in the mall. There are also random citizens scattered throughout the mall that have yet to realize they need rescuing (these do not show as missions). Rescuing a survivor is not always as easy as walking up to them and telling them to follow as many of them will require something of Chuck before they are willing to go with him to the safe house.

For example, there is a group of guys playing a pen and paper role playing game that will only follow Chuck if he has a female already following him. In a similarly funny twist, that girl will only follow Chuck if he is in his underwear because she is embarrassed that she only has her underwear on. What is more, she even requires Chuck to carry her on his back to the safe house. Some survivors will react to how Chuck is dressed when trying to be rescued as well, often with hilarious results. It can be frustrating traipsing around a zombie-infested mall trying to satisfy the needs of those whom Chuck is trying to rescue. Nonetheless, these mini-objectives successfully accomplish keeping pressure on the player and conveying a sense of urgency.

There are however those individuals whose fragile minds have been shattered by the zombie apocalypse. These unfortunate people are referred to as ‘psychopaths’ and are as difficult to fight as they are varied. The psychopath battles are interesting and extremely difficult, which is why it’s great that they are optional. Players may find the battles to cause controller-busting induced rage on their first play through, so there is no shame in leaving psychopaths to subsequent play-through and focusing on rescuing survivors and completing the main story.

The reason why players will want to take the time to rescue survivors or put down psychopaths is because they give quite a bit of Prestige Points. Prestige Points are gained from killing zombies, rescues, psychopath fights and completing missions related to the main story. When Chuck gains enough Prestige Points he will gain a level. There are fifty levels in DR2 and each level gives Chuck some sort of reward: it can be a combo card or skill move, increase in health or inventory, or a boost to a specific attribute. This system should be very familiar to veterans of the first Dead Rising.

Dishing Out the Pain

The biggest change in gameplay between the first and second game is the combo weapon system. There are items scattered throughout the mall that can be combined to create deadly weapons that give players a fun and interesting way to dish out some pain on zombies. The items in question will have a distinctive wrench icon to identify them as a potential combo piece. Even though there are a large number of combo weapons in the game, players will not be able to combine just any two items. Instead players will use combo cards as reference for what is needed to create a specific combo weapon. Once the player has the required items, they will need to combine them at one of the many workbenches found in the mall. Having a combo card will increase Prestige Points when used to vanquish zombies and most give Chuck extra attacks.

What hasn’t changed and is now a staple of the Dead Rising franchise is the ability for the protagonist to equip various types of clothing found through out the mall. The only roadblock is a player’s imagination. Want to wear a summer dress with yellow sneakers, a football helmet and sun glasses? No problem. Want to wear a goblin mask and visit a certain suicidal survivor to save him? By all means, please do. The combinations are seemingly endless and the best part is that what Chuck is currently wearing is also in the cut scenes, making a super serious story seem somewhat comical at times.

Working Together to Survive

A new feature found in Dead Rising 2 is multiplayer, both competitive and co-op. Co-op gameplay is a feature underutilized in games, so it’s nice to see it included with DR2. Honestly, co-op was created for games like Dead Rising 2, just try to ignore the fact that there will be two Chuck Green’s running around the Fortune City mall.

The multiplayer in DR2 is based on the Terror Is Reality game show; a series of mini-games done gladiator style where four players are to commit horrendous acts of violence against zombies in order to score points. The mini-games are extremely varied with nine in total. Players can find themselves rolling around in giant steel hamster balls smashing into one another; driving zamboni’s to grind up zombies in order to spew their blood into blood collectors, or riding around on a motocross bike with chainsaws attached to the handlebars where the only goal is to slice as many zombies as humanly possible. The multiplayer is nothing revolutionary but it can be fun, but the only real reason to participate in TIR is because the earnings players accumulate online can be transferred to a player’s single-player saved game. This becomes very helpful when wanting to purchase a dose of Zombrex instead of trying to locate one hidden somewhere in the mall.

Games for Windows Dead

Something players will need to know is that Dead Rising 2 is a Games for Windows Live game, which means everyone who plays will need to have an account with a Gamer Tag in order to play and save games. To many this could be a turnoff and a deal breaker. Besides accumulating achievements, being a GFWL game does mean Dead Rising 2 is compatible with a controller. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the default mouse and keyboard setup, but DR2 was developed with a controller in mind so it’s highly recommended that one be used.

Technically speaking Dead Rising 2 does benefit from running on PC hardware; the load times are much shorter, the draw distance is much higher allowing more zombies on screen at once and the game looks and runs great. Personally I had no problems with performance or run into bugs of any kind, but everyone’s mileage may vary.

Closing Comments:

Dead Rising 2 takes what the first game started and cranks it up! The weapon combo system is arguably one of the best mechanics found in a game and adds depth to gameplay that never seems to get old. The game world is larger; there are more survivors, more costumes, more weapons, tougher psychopaths, and the addition of multiplayer and co-op modes top off what is one of the most enjoyable games of the year.

9.0 out of 10
 
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