Those who played the original will know to expect a unique and often frustrating game with some unusual design choices.
Dead Rising 2 places the chisel-jawed motocross star, Chuck Greene, amidst the zombie apocalypse. His wife has already fell to the undead, and his daughter sports a bite on her arm, making her susceptible to change any minute. Being a doting father, Chuck enters a television game-show in order to earn money to buy Zombrex that will temporarily cure his daughter's illness. However, he finds himself caught-up in a conspiracy plot which sees the undead released across Fortune City. With his daughter about to turn - and numerous survivors still dotted around Fortune City - Chuck must hunt down Zombrex for his daughter, find out who framed him and save the city's remaining survivors.
While the game sounds simple in explanation - it opens up a number of unique mechanics. Namely the concept of time. Everything in Dead Rising 2 is attached to a time limit. At 7AM every morning you'll need to fetch your daughter a fresh supply of Zombrex, likewise missions will expire if you don't complete them quick enough. It's a great way of introducing tension to the game - but it can make the whole affair frustrating. It's hard to judge exactly how long it will take to complete a certain objective, and as such you'll find yourself either being exceedingly cautious or over-running your time limits. The game hinges on careful planning, frequent saving and a dash of good luck. As you progress you'll earn PP, which will grant Chuck new abilities as he levels up. Dead Rising encourages frequent playthroughs — even allowing you to carry across your levels should you decide to start the game again. And you'll need to on more than one occasion, as the game's time restrictions and boss battles are punishing, requiring Chuck to be at a high level.
Dead Rising 2's campaign will take around 8 hours to complete, but frequent playthroughs are encouraged. The game also boasts co-operative and competitive multiplayer.
Love them or hate them, Dead Rising 2's time restrictions make the game an extremely tense affair. On the whole, the game lacks a sense of challenge. While the screen is littered with thousands of zombies at any point throughout the campaign, none of them particularly possess a challenge. As such, the game manufactures difficulty and challenge through its harsh time restrictions. If you stick to the campaign's main path, these restrictions don't provide much of a challenge. However, the game offers a number of distractions in the form of side-missions — meaning it can require a fair amount of planning to complete everything in the allocated time slots. Side-missions usually task you with escorting a number of survivors back to the game's main hub location; but they can also involve boss battles against agonisingly unfair enemy characters. Balancing these objectives with the main campaign can create quite a challenge; and the tension it creates is something you'll either love or hate. After several hours with the game, we began to enjoy the sense of urgency Dead Rising creates — but it does take a while to get to grips with.
In many ways, Dead Rising 2's weapon construction hook is deeply flawed. The main issue is that you can never create a weapon without finding the objects you require to construct it first. It sounds simple - but when you're hindered by time restraints and surrounded by thousands of zombies, seeking out that battery you need to make an electric wheelchair is not as simple as it sounds. As such, you'll spend much of the game running around with spiked bats as the items required are easy to locate (just outside of the safe house). That said, the weapons options in Dead Rising 2 are amazing. The afore-mentioned electric wheelchair was incredibly fun to use on the one occasion we managed to get it set up. There are hundreds of creation possibilities, each as genuinely fun as each other. It's just a shame it's such a hassle to actually get them set-up. In a way, it's very much a missed opportunity.
Dead Rising 2 is a goofy, goofy game. Despite the violent and gory tone of its subject matter, everything about the game is ostentatious and silly. The characters, plot and voice acting all heighten the sense of ridiculous. Not to mention you can dress up as a bunny with a Blanka mask.
Dead Rising 2 is certainly not the prettiest game on the PlayStation 3, but its engine is extremely sturdy. Despite some light tearing issues, the game is able to handle a number of on-screen enemies without frame-rate drops becoming an issue. That makes combat super satisfying as you pile through a screen of undead nasties. Despite the stability of the engine, the title does have some loading issues which can make the pace of the game laborious and clunky. As you move through each of the unique sectors, the game will drop out into a loading screen. It can get extremely frustrating.
For all its short-comings, we like Dead Rising 2's multiplayer. It's essentially a collection of four-player mini-games involving zombies. The presentation's sewn together with a gameshow-like style and tasks you with a number of objectives such as running over zombies in a chainsaw-attached motorcycle, and dressing zombies in pink-frilly skirts. It's ridiculous. The neat thing is, any money that is earned in the multiplayer can be carried into the single-player. As Zombrex is so damn impossible to find in the campaign, playing multiplayer in order to afford the cure from the game's shop becomes a necessary strategy.
Though we eventually came around to Dead Rising 2's unique mechanics, we understand those who will get frustrated with the game and give up. It is messed up. The time restrictions can seem limiting and irritating. While there's an amazing open-world to explore, you never really get a chance to. And that won't be to everyone's liking. The game encourages multiple playthroughs as a method to exploring its world - but with the game so punishing from the outset, we imagine a lot of people will be done with it at the first hurdle.
Dead Rising 2's boss-fights are unfair. Downright unfair. Throughout the campaign, there are a number of side-missions that will see you come face-to-face with a psychopath. Many of these battles are avoidable — and you'll do best to steer clear. They are impossible. Dead Rising 2's combat is too clunky, and movement to restricted to make these precise battles fair or even possible. They rely on luck. It's unfortunate that a big pillar of the game is let-down by stiff controls and genuinely unfair enemy AI.
While much more intelligent than the previous game's AI, saving Dead Rising 2's survivors can be a frustrating task. You'll need to hike the NPCs back to the safe-house once you've located them in order to get a PP reward. This means trying to get them through the throngs of undead littering the game world. While they can be given weapons to fight off zombies, protecting them can be a challenge. Namely because you'll end up hurting them in the process. As survivors are surrounded by zombies, you'll need to attack to free them. Sadly, one misplaced swing and you'll have killed the survivor alongside the zombies surrounding it. Time to reload that last save...
Dead Rising 2 is availble now on PlayStation 3.
There are a catalogue of frustrations inherent to the way Dead Rising 2 has been designed; the game refuses to conform to any kind of design standard, making it hard to get into. For every low-point, there is a positive however - murdering zombies never really gets old, especially with the number of weapons on offer. That said, it's hard not to lament Dead Rising's bizarre time constraints and infuriating boss battles. For many, Dead Rising will refuse to "click". Those lucky enough to break through the unique learning curve will find a rewarding, but deeply flawed experience.