Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dead Rising 2 Review - Part Two

As a precursor to my upcoming 2010 Game of the Year blog posts, I'd like to offer you part two of my three-part review of Dead Rising 2 and its complementary titles (prologue and epilogue). This portion of the review will cover the actual full-size Dead Rising 2 game.

The story is similar to the original: you're a guy who was present for a zombie outbreak in a contained area (this time, it's several malls and casinos, along with an outdoor plaza area). In DR2, you've got the added pressure of caring for your daughter, who's been bitten, and is essentially a zombie time bomb waiting to go off. While taking care of your other main missions and countless side missions (mostly involving rescuing other survivors from their inevitable demises), you've also got to scrounge up doses of Zombrex, the drug that keeps your daughter from having a change in appetite.

The story is a little deeper than the original, but unfortunately (at least in my opinion), it seems a little light on the "good guys." There's one big twist in the story that I won't ruin for you, but you'll likely be able to see it coming a mile away, despite the fact that it really does come out of nowhere.

It should be noted that this sequel shows very high fidelity to the original Dead Rising. The gameplay, the "working against the clock" system, the sense of humor, and the expansive, secret-filled world all hearken back to the cult classic. And it's absolutely safe to say that if you enjoyed the original, you're going to love Dead Rising 2. That said, though, if you weren't a big fan of the original, it's tough to see you doing a 180 on the series with this title.

However, I would like to address a few of the concerns I've heard from friends regarding the original game, and how they've been (somewhat) addressed in the sequel.
  • The bosses are too difficult. While the bosses are still a challenge, your potential arsenal of created weapons helps to counter this. The knife gloves are a particular favorite of mine.
  • The survivors are idiots. It wasn't until I played Dead Rising 2 that I realized just how bad the AI was in the original. Nobody in this game has anything remotely close to the death wish that half of the survivors had in the original, and the ones who can wield weapons are still pretty handy with a 12 gauge.
  • GOD DAMN CONVICTS AND THE GOD DAMN JEEP FUCKING FUCK! I won't lie to you; there is a similar game mechanic in the sequel, where the central area is patrolled by psychopaths. However, this situation doesn't come up until much later in the game, when you've had time to develop your levels/skills/weaponry. They're still a pain, but they're easier to navigate around this time.
As far as how the game itself plays, I do have two complaints. First, the achievement structure is pretty outrageous. There are several achievements that don't show dedication or skill, but simply a willingness to give up a few weekends and bury yourself in the minutiae of the game. I'm not saying I won't get them eventually, I'm just saying it's crazy. Second, unless they're in the hands of survivors, guns are still pretty useless. It wouldn't seem so unreasonable except when you tape two chainsaws to the ends of a kayak paddle to mow through wave after wave of zombies. Maybe at least a bump in the power of the guns would've been warranted.

Overall, I was very happy with my Dead Rising 2 experience. I definitely see myself getting back into it at some point (after I finish up some of the 25 or so games I bought off Steam over the past 20 days), mostly to get into the cooperative mode. I played it briefly with a complete stranger, and it was fun, but I'm hoping to convince someone (cough, Tommy, cough) to spring for a copy of the game the next time it goes on sale, and join me for long-term zombie mashing.

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