Friday, 15 October 2010

Dead Rising 2

Where killing zombies has never been so fun! Romero's "Dawn Of The Dead" was the inspiration behind the first in this series, but does the second deliver even more or is it an (un)dead series already?

I had got only about halfway through the first Dead Rising but I did remember enjoying it, but loading this game up I was questioning why I never finished it. I'd loved the swarms of zombies everywhere, taking pictures, the little strange missions etc. and then once I started playing the second one, it started to dawn on me why I had quit; and unfortunately the same problems remain.

Let's start at the beginning, Dead Rising was about a journalist caught in the middle of a zombie outbreak and they had taken refuge in a mall. This sequel is a few years later, where zombies are somewhat controlled and they've even created a game called Terror Is Reality which is essentially Gladiators with zombies. Your character is Chuck, one of the regular contestants on the gameshow and as like every zombie movie, it all goes wrong and Chuck has been framed for the outbreak. You soon have to clear your name before the military arrive while looking after your daughter by injecting her with Zombrex every 24 hours and trying to save as many people as possible.

There were many reasons why I gave up on the first game. Namely, when saving survivors you had to escort them for aaaaaages to the safe house and they would often be completely beaten up by zombies and when trying to save them, you often did more damage than the zombies. Fortunately, the survivors are a lot more hardcore this time and will keep up with you which is a massive improvement, however the escorting back to the safe house is often a huge ball ache and the loading times between different areas take soooo loooong. The next huge irritant is the saving system, you can only save your games in restrooms across the mall which means if you venture too far, or come up against a boss, you have to fight your way again through hoardes of zombies to get back to where you need to go, so if it's a tough level and you're restarting from the restroom again, you'll be likely to throw your console out the window. Why not just do checkpoints? Or restart from the beginning of the boss battle?

There's also the fact that this takes place in a mall. It's been done in the first game, why do it again? There's not many new unique ideas here, it really is Dead Rising 2 or rather it should be called Dead Rising: Fortune City seeing as it's pretty much exactly the same as the first game. There's not even the photo option which I quite enjoyed first time round, but instead you can combine weapons to a staggering degree. This might seem cool, but really unless the items are on the way you're just not bothered enough to go out of your way to do it. You don't even know where to find them unless you look it up online, the same with finding the Zombrex, there are missions to get the drug but they say you can find them in the game, unless you know where to look you'll never find it. If you want to buy anything, you have to have a fair bit of money and unless you play online (I'll come to that later) I don't know how you would raise enough.

Graphics wise, it looks OK, but is typically Capcom who really need to up their game. Reading dialogue on screen? This is next-gen gaming not PS1 time. The characters and acting are so OTT that it really does lose it's true horror essence to become more of a fun weird distraction, typically Japanese who I'd argue are losing their way. Gameplay wise, it's not very good either. The 'moves' that Chuck acquires are almost useless as you really need a weapon, and when you use a weapon or have a drink, that short animation takes so long that you can easily get attacked. Same with putting on clothes, or even looking at your mission list, if you take too long chances are you run the risk of dying. There's also not much of a learning curve. Simple fact is the higher your level during the game, the easier everything is, which means that the enemies are arguably the same difficulty but you'll die a lot easier earlier on, which is frustrating. The endings were also quite average and after checking them all out on YouTube I'd say the depressing ones worked the best, I'd recommend checking them out after you complete the game.

The missions are OK, the psychos are reasonably psychotic and the plot works well, but this is such a flawed game that a lot of the time it was more a chore to complete rather than fun. Completists might say there's a lot more to do and I'm missing a lot, such as being able to open the car, the different costumes, the weird weapons, getting to level 50, but come on - a game shouldn't be reliant on this.

Online, the game works quite well. Co-op means you can join someone's game randomly and your character will level up there so you can take your stronger Chuck and put him back into your own single player campaign which is a nice touch. The real treat however is Terror Is Reality, the gameshow Chuck is on, where you get to do the events yourselves (4 of 9 I believe each time) and I spent a lot of time on this for fun and also to win money to use in the single player game, meaning buying Zombrex was never an issue.

Overall, the game was somewhat entertaining but it felt like no-one had gone over the details and it shows how much a thorough games testing is needed before putting games like this on the market. The saving is ridiculous, some of the fighting is stupid and unreliable, escorting survivors is a chore and the reading messages or dialogue rather than speech is a joke. Capcom had a long time to make something great here, but really they've just rehashed their old game and tried to make it look a bit more funny with it's costumes and weird weapons, clever, but we're not 12. Online gives it an extra point but I'd say this is a rental at best, not worth going out of your way for.

Rating: 6/10

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