23rd September 2010 - Meet Chuck and Katie Greene; two innocent bystanders about to meet a world of hurt. Katie has been bitten by zombies: the only known cure? ZOMBREX, which has been out on the market for 5 years now but is expensive and hard to find. Chuck, well, Chuck is a complicated man. Loving father he likes nothing better than dressing up in womens clothing, pwning zombies and generally tooling around. Stuck in the desert, half way to Vegas, they have just over 12 hours to find the meds, fix their bike, rescue a bunch of unlikely people and get the hell out of dodge. Could you do it?
At the start of the year, no one could of imagined just how much zombie `lovin we would be treated to come October, with a careful watch over the spiritual successor to Capcoms' original title Dead Rising from 2006. Developers Blue Castle have stepped up to help Capcom pull this one off, and without mucking with their trademark formula have succeeded royally.
On top of Dead Rising 2 itself, fans are treated to not one but two extended episodes: Case 0 and Case West. Due out days after the game, Case West sees the return of former Journalist Frank, but it is Case 0 that preludes the lot and sets the scene for our new would-be hero.
Case 0 is a conceptual wonder that many games with all their DLC could learn from. It serves as both a Back story, an introduction into the characters and locations (and zombies) but doubles as both a demo, a sandbox and a complete game, set 5 years after the first and 3 years before the second game. This isn't some slapped on DLC or missing content, it is marketing hype, but also levelling up Chuck Greene in the game can be carried over to the full experience, thus integrating the two seamlessly. On top of which, it is a heck of lot of fun.
Dawn of the Dead
Suddenly Dead Rising is this very popular franchise with a number of titles to it's name, and zombie hunters couldn't be happier. Those into collecting items, getting achievements and generally ticking off a list of to-do items should also be happy, because Case 0 is OCD heaven. The reason we are not talking much about actual gameplay mechanics, is a) it is more or less exactly the same as the first game b) There is literally not much more to it than a long list of items to collect.
The hallmark of Dead Rising so far has been not so much the story or even the freedom to go postal on 1000 zombies at free will, but the strict and controlling deadline of completing a list of task to a set time. With a constant clock ticking in the background, every action costs time, every load and save costs time and every battle consumes precious minutes you may need to find something. Something like, 2 ZOMBREX Medicine, 5 bike parts,1 key, 10 people and one Boss Battle not to mention half a dozen locked doors, $30,000 and 9 unique weapons. All in just over 12 in game hours.
Death by Design
If a compounding time limit was not enough, Capcom in true style have done little to rectify previous 'problems' with the game. Or to put it another way Capcom revel in being “Capcom” and their Dead Rising games are more or less a fans paradise of “Capcom” nods and winks. From the noise of consuming food items and drink items, to the cheeky Giant yellow lego heads, the game is, unapologetically, Capcom. Whilst the previous game had little to no save points, making it a punishing task to complete, some relief is in sight (pun intended) with a number of toilets to save your game in. That said, Chuck still relies on bits of health (not even a health bar) that you have to keep filling and levelling and dies all too quick at first. He runs really, really slow until you can level up and still insists on standing still every single time to eat and drink and try on clothes.
The first Dead Rising had a catch too: To get maximum XP (called PP in game), Frank West had to photograph these zombies, as much as possible and in as many 'compromising' positions as possible. This time around, Chuck doesn't quite have a fetish for sticking things on zombies heads, although he can, but instead items around the world can be lashed together with duct tape at workbenches to make some of the best and most novel killing toys ever conceived. Paddles+Chainsaw = PADDLESAW! Who cares if its impractical and heavy to use, it is just plain fun.
For a small price Case 0 offers a lot and from different angles. An open world sandbox and so much fun, it shoots itself in the foot when you relies that it's not as hard as it looks and logically “the list” can be completed easily and in a set time. The game is easily exploited with re spawning items after loading, characters only spawning at certain times and multiple endings for different scenarios, but unlike bugs and glitches these issues remain for the fans and for the fun of it all as the player works with the design to complete the task on time. There is no failure either which is incentive to try different things as doing everything poorly, will only result in one of 5 different endings.
Just like the ugly zombies that inhabit the backwater town, Dead Rising 2: Case 0 does fail slightly in delivering excellent graphics. The cut scenes are serviceable while animation can be rather shabby. Further any character lip syncing or facial animation is mute as largely Chuck will interact via text prompts and action.
The conjecture is, that while nothing has changed graphically and for all intents and purpose DR2 could just be a massive 'expansion pack', It is the amount of minor and simple animations while although crude supply a raft of different contextual moves and humorous play options for items. Every single item that can be picked up, which is most objects in the game, has a light and hard attack and it is the hard attack of holding down X that invokes the most amusing antics.
The devil is in the detail
For example: A guitar is nothing more than a massive wooden bludgeon, until with a hard attack Chuck slams it on a zombies head and makes him wear it. Fire extinguishers make a quick 'freeze gun' while a frying pan is good, until you combine it with a stove and hold X to apply a burning face attack to the head! Although crude, it is these minor moments of brilliance that lift Case 0 above mediocre. Nothing in the game is 'scripted' save for spawning and timing and generally every play through is different due to the number of zombies and their locations and movements.
Generally speaking, zombies will rush you when the player gets too close and will mob around doors and street corners. Again the code is exploitable in that back alleys are less packed with zombies and generally they stay off pathways less than streets. They can't open doors and become more aggro after dark. As Chuck levels up he will gain new moves, wrestling zombies and generally kicking them in the head. Sadly the level cap will reach before you can learn the infamous 'run from head to head will stepping on their face' move, but Blue Castle had to leave something for the full retail.
Pro tip: The complete guide to all items and unlocks can be found HERE
For all intents and purpose there are about 100 times more zombies packed into the same space than in the first game. This doesn't necessarily make it harder and is compensated by a rather strong blur in the distance due to draw distance issues and to stop 'popping'. Although not perfect, there is almost untold customisation for Chuck to play with from eating hot dogs off the floor to dressing up as lumberjack and carrying women around in his arms. The weather changes convincingly throughout the day and it becomes just a bit stressful as the sun begins to set and you have not completed your tasks.
Killing me softly
The graphics just wouldn't be complete without mentioning that one of the most memorable and stand out aspects of the first Dead Rising was a big ol pair of DD knockers. Initial screenshots had people up in arms as the overtly sexulised blonde AI set a new standard for zombie games. The overly clich`ed and well endowed characters are back in fine form with three 'sexy sisters' in need of rescuing from a hens night, a couple of gamblers and the requisite crazy cowboy on the roof. The cute blonde AI though, is none other than daughter Katie.
There has already been a lot of conjecture about who hates and who likes Katie, and why the whole story revolves around helping a little girl who can't help herself; but there is something so gosh darn cute about the way she is amused by her fathers violence and bad-assery and at the same time saddened by the zombies that simply adds another level to the gameplay as well as motivating the game forward. Capcom have at least tried to pull away from the mindless meatheads and under age angry tweens that this game might draw focusing instead on a mature father and daughter situation that any parent or mature adult can relate to.
If the visuals were a mixed bag of lots of detail, but lots of average detail mixed with minor and detailed but poorly animated movements then the sound is just as confusing. Rather than be tense and scary, it is just plain quiet or non existent. Yet, during the boss battle and times of extreme importance like making kick ass weapons, the game explodes with rolling metal and rock music overtones than complement the action wonderfully.
Another way to approach it is that the gameplay on the whole is amusing and childish while the cutscenes and story frame it in a mature and realistic light. Again it is the small details like the Capcom noises from drinking and eating or even peeing that add depth and creativity to the game.
Red Dead Redemption
People might complain about elevator music but again, it is the sarcasm and humour that players will either get or just not understand and find annoying. Character and voice acting though, is sub par. For a zombie game, one liners and dialogue is expected to be cheesy, but a lot of it just seems phoned in. On the plus side, you can hear a person a mile away making it easy to find them in a mob of zombies, on the downside lines are repeated over and over and sometimes the characters are creepier than any un-dead brain eater. The females border on sexually desperate while the men are less than convincing. True to form the best conversations are between Chuck and Katie, while her constant sadness in the background and general 'cute' comments about the 'big ol mean zombies' are actually believable.
Undeniably, without thinking the game is a must buy. If only because it currently retails at 400MSP. As long as you can afford that , it is cheaper than any other arcade title in the last month and also most DLC. For a complete game with all 12 achievements, high replay value and the ability to carry over to the full title there is no reason not to get it.
While the nay sayers might argue its an extra 400MSP on top of the price of the full game, it is still cheaper than either DLC for Mass Effect or Dragon Age, is longer and is a complete story unto it's own. Further it sits as a standalone arcade title not DLC which generally retail for 1200MSP.
The 200 points of achievements are actually rather simple once you plot out your time and path through the town and with achievements that are actually attainable is a another reason to replay. There is no multiplayer or co-op but the full retail game should fix that and with another chapter: Case West on the way that does include co-op,then the zombie killing shenanigans should continue for quite some time.
Dead Rising 2: Case 0 is not perfect. But then it doesn't have to be to be so much fun. Both Capcom and blue Castle took a gamble with a sequel, not even sure if the first game was going to be successful four years ago.
Quickly though a cult following has arisen with newbies and fans alike championing Chuck Greene and Frank West as the new faces of the Zombie Apocalypse. In a similar vein to Left 4 Dead, personality is the key, and Dead Rising is full of it
AAG SCORE: 8.5/10
+ High replay value
+ Creative, customising fun
+ Cheap for a well rounded experience
- Some graphical polish required
- Still has the potential to bore or frustrate some people
- No co-op or mutliplayer
Written and Reviewed by Ian Crane