Review: Dead Rising 2
The original Dead Rising wasn’t the only title of the franchise that got ported to current-gen. Its successful sequel received the same graphical update, being higher resolution and better frame rate. But does the game itself still hold up six years after its release?
He’s a hero! He’s a survivor! He’s Chuck Greene!
This time, you play as former motocross champion Chuck Greene. Set several years after a zombie outbreak, in which he lost his wife, he now participates in a game show where contestants kill zombies for money and fame. Chuck’s motivation to win is his daughter Katey, who is infected with the zombie virus and has to take an expensive medicine called ‘Zombrex’ every 24-hours to prevent her from turning into a brain-dead monster. To add to that, Chuck also gets blamed for the outbreak in the arena that happens at the start of the game. It’s now up to you to uncover the truth before the military arrives and to find enough Zombrex to keep Katey alive.
Dead Rising 2 is basically the original Dead Rising with a few upgrades and technical fixes. The time mechanic is back, but instead of only having a 72-hour limit, there’s now also a 24-hour limit that’s focused on Chuck’s daughter, Katey. During the game, you have to find Zombrex and give it to her every 24-hours. You can’t give it too early, and certainly not too late or Katey will suffer the consequences. The extra time limit can be annoying as it’s an extra thing to worry about, but it does encourage exploration since you have to look for the medicine in every place you can think of.
The story or ‘Case Files’ also return and follow the same structure as in the first game. Some Case Files can only be started at a certain time at a specific place, while others can be initiated whenever you want. The story itself is not that great, but that’s never been the focus of these games. Find whoever framed you for the outbreak and survive long enough until the military arrives. Between the Case Files you can complete side missions, which are most of time rescue missions. Find a survivor, escort him or her back to the safe room and repeat. Doing these will reward you with ‘Prestige Points’. These points will level Chuck up and unlock new moves to perform. In the original game, you could also score Prestige Points by taking photographs, but this mechanic has been removed from Dead Rising 2. However, it replaces it with another great feature.
The crafting system is a fantastic addition to the weapon system from the first game. You can now combine weapons and items you find to create better weapons. Using these crafted tools of destruction to kill zombies with will reward you with Prestige Points. The stronger the weapon, the more points you’ll earn. You’ll quickly find yourself looking for new materials to discover new combinations. Not so imaginative to create new weapons? Don’t worry, the game can also reward you with ‘Combo Cards’. These show you weapon combinations and which items you’ll need to make them. The crafting system is easily the best part of the game and is sure to give you hours of fun.
Another addition to Dead Rising 2 is the multiplayer component. There are two modes you can choose from. The first mode, called ‘Terror is Reality’, places you against three other players. You compete with each other in four minigames, centered around the zombie theme. The one who scores the most points earns the most money, which gets transferred to the single-player component. It is fun to goof around in an arena filled with zombies with strangers on the internet, but it quickly gets repetitive. The second mode is the online co-op mode, which lets another player join you in the single-player campaign. Your co-op partner can drop in/out at any time and can carry items over from your game to his/her game. This mode can be handy to find high-grade weapons or Zombrex more easily, but that’s about it. In short, the multiplayer can be ignored but the co-op can make the single-player a little more fun.
Technical side of things
Compared to its predecessor, the survivor AI has obviously been worked on. Survivors now know how to defend themselves and to follow you as close as possible. Zombies also focus less on survivors once you start escorting them back to the safe room, making it a little easier for you to guide them to safety. Another technical improvement that must be mentioned, is the control of your character. While the control layout itself hasn’t changed much, it’s now a little easier to aim your weapons. Frank West’s camera in the first game had to be controlled with the left analog stick, while weapons were aimed with the right analog stick. Since the camera mechanic has been removed in Dead Rising 2, you now only have to aim with the right analog stick. It’s not exactly a fix, but it does make it easier to control your character.
The graphical upgrade to 1080p (or higher on PC) and 60 fps only adds to the experience. And unlike the port of the first Dead Rising, it doesn’t struggle to maintain that frame rate, even when hundreds of zombies are displayed on-screen. It did, however, dropped some frames during the first couple of cutscenes. This was the only time the frame rate stuttered, so it’s possible that this is caused by a bug and to be fixed with a future patch.
Dead Rising 2 improves on almost every level and knows what made the first one so popular. The weapon combo system keeps surprising you with new weapons to craft and use. Fans of the original Dead Rising will not be disappointed with this one.