Dead Rising 2
There are times when you just want fun from a game. Pure manic, unbridled japes, where the joy of a game is simply what you can do in it. That spirit is exactly what Capcom and Canadian developer Blue Castle Games are trying to capture. We’ll admit to concerns as to whether the Canadian developer would really be able to match Dead Rising’s very Japanese vibe, but after playing the E3 build we’re fairly sure it can pull it off in very gory spades.
Set a year after the original zombie outbreak, Dead Rising 2 is a world where battling zombies is an accepted part of life. People have learned to cope with their existence, treating them like a natural hazard with anti-zombification drugs like Zombrex on the market to help anyone bitten. People are so used to the living dead there’s even a Running Man-style TV game show called Terror is Reality, in which contestants kill zombies in gruesomely entertaining ways. It’s this show and its cash prizes that draw former motorcross champion Chuck Greene and his young daughter Katey to Fortune City. Katey was bitten by her infected mother and needs constant doses of the horrifically expensive Zombrex to prevent her changing. Chuck’s prize money will ensure she keeps getting it.
But, as always, there are hippies who want to spoil the fun; in this case a group of do-gooders called CURE (Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality). They’ve come to protest against Terror is Reality, and a naughty splinter group commit their own act of terror: releasing the shows zombies into Fortune City. Chuck Greene is framed for the breakout, and with the help of Stacey, an innocent CURE activist, has to fight his way out of the infected city, saving people he meets while constantly finding doses of Zombrex for Katey.
Our time with DR2 saw Chuck in a Fortune City mall filled to the brim with zombies, and if you thought the first game’s zombie population was impressive, Dead Rising 2 will blow your mind – some spaces hold up to 7,000 zombies. Luckily, you’ll be well equipped to plough through them and as well as regular weapons, like knives, swords and nightsticks, Chuck can use every day objects to wreak serious zombie killing havoc.
The Mall proved a rich source of makeshift weapons, with music and sports shops allowing us to whale on zombies with everything from guitars to cricket bats. We were able to grab signs from outside shops and bludgeon them to death, slam bins over their heads, and even kill them with huge novelty dice. The Fortune City Mall is a playground of kooky things to do, like the clothes shops where we tried on women’s clothing and laughed as a gore-covered Chuck dismembered zombies while wearing a women’s tank top and skirt, or the toyshop where we stole a kid’s bicycle and rode hell for leather through crowds of zombies with our knees reaching our chin. We loved how the most unlikely things have the most gruesome effects, like the hangers from clothes shops that you can stick into zombies or the scissors that you jab into their eyes to leave them blindly stumbling about. It’s the best kind of Itchy and Scratchy punishment you can imagine, and the world is your violent oyster.
But the stars of the game are the weapons you create yourself. Chuck is a DIY hobbyist and can use ‘combine desks’ to create more than 60 strange-but-effective weapons, combining normal weapons with bits and pieces in the world. So you have a bat? Why not combine that with nails found in the mall’s back area for a spiked bat that sticks in zombie faces? What’s that you have there, sir? A bucket and a drill? Put them together for a drill bucket that you can stick on zombies’ heads. Watching them flail about as the drills bore into their brain is hilarious!
Some of the combinations are ridiculously powerful, like the oil drill motor we combined with a pitchfork to make a spinning fork, or the garden rake that we strapped to a car battery for a truly shocking zombie weapon. This isn’t only limited to weapons, though; taking a hard hat and combining it with beer cans will give you a beer hat, renewing your health. But for us the highlight of the whole affair was combining a flashlight with gems to create a bono fide red Sith-style Lightsaber, which cuts zombies in half. While Chuck can make basic weapons off the cuff, you’ll need to collect ‘combo cards’ to unlock their full potential, and the devastating heavy attacks that follow give you another reason to scour the levels.
While the original’s progression system was rooted in taking photographs with Frank West, Capcom has realised this detracted from the fun, and Dead Rising 2’s PP experience system is totally linked to killing zombies. As you’d expect, levelling up grants you more health, more weapon slots and even more meaty hand-to-hand attacks. You’ll earn the most PP on missions, as you rescue survivors under Stacey’s direction, all while having to return to Katey to give her Zombrex at timed intervals. And once again that 72-hour limit will be at your back, pushing you to get everything done before the Army comes to kill everything. One of the most frustrating things about the first game was the poor intelligence of survivors, but the few we encountered seemed more than able to look after themselves.
You’ll once again have the infamous bathroom save system to contend with, but between the abilities you have, the smarter survivors and slower zombies, it looks like Capcom has got the balance right. We’re looking forward to spending more time with Dead Rising 2 soon.