GAMING GREATS: Dead Rising 2 (2010)

Rod goes after the undead in this sequel to Capcom’s OTHER zombie franchise. 

Who made it?: Blue Castle Games (Developer), Capcom (Publishers).

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One. 

Format: DVD, Blu-ray, CD-ROM, Download. 

Released: September 24, 2010.

The first Dead Rising was a big success for the Xbox 360, alongside the first Gears of War, both released in 2006. What helped set this Capcom zombie franchise apart from their legendary Resident Evil series, of course, was that it combined horror with comedy. Many times, it reached the heights of absurdity and then some! Dead Rising 2, unleashed in 2010, continues this in a game that is also one of the best sequels out there. 2010 was strong, with successes such as the excellent Red Dead Redemption and the thrilling action-thriller Alan Wake. While it isn’t on a par with those games, Dead Rising 2 isn’t a shambling mess of decayed flesh by any means. What every great sequel does is take what worked in the first and carry it over into the next entry, while also adding new elements which further enhance the experience, as well as creating new opportunities for the player to find enjoyment. The interim years meant that there was a lot of time to come up with something, and I feel that it not only lives up to the success of the first, but also chomps out some success of its own!

Dead Rising 2 takes place a few years after the zombie outbreak which occurred at Parkview Mall, in the fictional city of Willamette, Colorado. This time around, you play as a different character; instead of Frank West, the photojournalist who broke the story of the Willamette Incident to the world at large, Chuck Greene is our new hero. He is a former motocross champion who lost his wife to zombification in an outbreak in Vegas, about two years prior to the events of this sequel. He and his young daughter, Katey, may have survived the ordeal, but she was bitten by a zombie, too, her own zombified mother in fact! Luckily, Katey was administered a drug called “Zombrex” just in time, so she didn’t succumb to the same fate as her mother. Unfortunately, this drug only suppresses the zombification process temporarily, and so it is something that Katey, and others like her, must take every day for the rest of their lives if they are to avoid becoming a flesh-hungry undead creature.

Due to the high cost of Zombrex, Chuck has had to do what he can to afford it and keep Katey from turning. It is why he has entered into a reality television show called Terror is Reality, so he can put the prize money towards more Zombrex. Terror is Reality requires contestants to ride motorcycles around in a circuit and kill zombies to earn points, and the one who gets the most points is naturally the winner. The host of the show is Tyrone King aka TK. After Chuck wins (or loses, as this part of the story is playable), a new zombie outbreak occurs within Fortune City, a massive Las Vegas-style amusement and entertainment resort, where the current episode of Terror is Reality is being broadcast live. Chuck and Katey, along with some other survivors, including Stacey Forsythe, head of an organisation fighting for the rights of the undead called C.U.R.E., manage to get to a secure area.

After all of this, the game begins proper. Like in Dead Rising, you have a 72 hour in-game time period to survive until a rescue arrives, with every 24 hour in-game period being equal to two hours of real-time. The game’s story is told during Case Files, which become active at certain times. As before, your character has a watch, in this case a digital one, and this allows you to keep track of time so you know when a Case File becomes active. If you miss any of these, at any point, you will fail every one after that automatically, destroying any chances of completing the main story in that playthrough. But, even if you do fail any of the Case Files, you are given the option to either continue playing, restart the story, or load your last save. If you choose to restart, whatever you were wearing at the time is still worn, and your character’s level remains the same as it was before restarting. Completing every single Case File will also unlock Overtime Mode.

If you loved the psychopaths featured in the first Dead Rising, then you’re going to have one helluva time with those you meet in Dead Rising 2! These charming people help add to the absurdity and comedy of the series, due to the bizarre way they see the world as a result of the outbreak, which manifests itself in the ridiculous things they say, the absurd things they wear, and their tendency to want to see you lying dead, bleeding and broken before them. From a lovestruck store mascot whose love didn’t quite make it, to a busty singer who is convinced the zombies are feverish fans of hers, to a postman who has gone postal… they’re all here.

Survivors who haven’t lost their minds like the psychopaths are also located at various parts of Fortune City. Those who have played the first will know how frustrating survivors were to actually escort back to safety, and while they can be just as infuriating in this sequel, their AI has been improved drastically. They are now more likely to actually find a pathway towards a location marker you’ve created for them, instead of taking unnecessary detours, and they are more efficient at protecting themselves provided you’ve given them a weapon to defend themselves with. It isn’t a requirement of the game to rescue these survivors, so you can choose to be a psychopath yourself and take them out if you so desire. If you do want to actually rescue these people, doing so can reward you with certain advantages, but make sure you get there on time because there’s only a certain window of opportunity to reach them. Rest assured, though, that once you reach them, there’s no longer any time constraints upon you. Not all will come willingly, or without you doing them a favour first. Survivors can be given health items if their life bar, which hovers above their heads, is depleted from getting attacked by zombies. Keep in mind, however, that if they are left behind between areas, the ones divided up by loading screens, their health will keep draining until they die unless you return back to that area.

Prestige Points (PP) also make a return, and what they go towards in this sequel is exactly the same. Since Fortune City has many casinos, you can find certain mini-games that will reward you with PP, provided you can do the required tasks without failing. Successfully rescuing and escorting survivors back to the Safe House will give you PP. Defeating psychopaths will also reward you with PP. And you will also earn PP by completing Case Files. As it is in Dead Rising, the maximum level you can reach is fifty, by which point you will have unlocked all the health squares possible, increased the weapon/item/food inventory to its maximum capacity, achieved the fastest movement speed possible, and every special attack in the game will have been unlocked.

Due to the change in protagonist, taking pictures is no longer part of gameplay. But those familiar with the first will have no trouble getting used to Dead Rising 2, as you can still do plenty of the same things. Don’t like what Chuck is wearing? Change his style by finding various clothing items for him to wear in stores or from items scattered around the place. Be as silly as you want to be! And it wouldn’t be a Dead Rising game without the ability to pick up almost anything and use it as a weapon. These will unfortunately break after taking too much damage, but there’s always plenty more where that came from! Speaking of weapons…

Part two introduces the ability to create combo weapons, which makes combat against hordes of the undead as much fun as Negan in The Walking Dead has with Lucille! As you play the game, you will receive what are called Combo Cards, and these show you what two item/weapon combinations are required to create the combo displayed on the card. These can be unlocked by defeating certain psychopaths, or in some instances when Chuck reaches the next experience level. Some are even unlocked by examining certain objects within Fortune City that give Chuck an idea of what he could come up with. There’s even what are known as Scratch Cards, which you receive if you combine two items/weapons together without having the Combo Card for that combo weapon. But, if you want to have the full potential of the combo weapon that is shown on a Scratch Card, it’s best to get the proper Combo Card for it, as that will allow you to use that weapon’s special strong attack, and gain the full amount of PP from using them against enemies.

Another change to the gameplay is the fact that you can carry money which can be used for many things throughout your “relaxing” stay at Fortune City. In casinos, you can play poker machines to try and win even more money, or just find it lying around, ‘cus it’s not like anyone is really going to miss it! ATM’s can also be destroyed to obtain cash, and if you know what you’re doing, you can actually get much more out of these ATMs than destroying them the usual way. Money can also be spent on mini-games you find, and winning these will net you PP. Pawn Shops can also be found around Fortune City, so you can spend your hard-earned or easily-obtained cash to buy things such as combo weapons that are pre-built, so they’re already made to use. Then there’s keys for certain vehicles you can purchase as well, provided you have heaps of money, as they’re not cheap! Special costumes can be purchased from these places, too. Something that is more valuable to Chuck than anything in the world, though, is his daughter Katey, and this is where another difference between Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 comes into play.

Since Chuck Greene’s daughter is infected, she must be injected with Zombrex once every 24 hours, at a particular time, between 7am and 8am in game time. This means you have to find Zombrex throughout Fortune City if you are to prevent her from becoming a flesh-eater. Pawn shops will have Zombrex in stock, so they can be purchased from them, but keep in mind that the cost of Zombrex increases each time you buy it. An alternative to this is to find the drug hidden in certain places, or to receive it from certain survivors you rescue and escort back to safety. Failure to give Katey Zombrex on time means that she will succumb to zombification. This doesn’t end the game, though, as you can still play through the 72 hours to accomplish things, except the Case Files.

Now, I get to one of the things I really enjoy about Dead Rising 2. Music in games for me is an integral part of any gaming experience, and over the years, there has been many with soundtracks which have become very iconic, not only to myself but to many others as well. Dead Rising 2 is the game which introduced me to Celldweller, as it features one of their songs , “Kill the Sound.” Its a track I really enjoy listening to, and what is great about it in terms of Dead Rising 2‘s overall music, is that there’s elements of “Kill the Sound” interwoven into the score you hear in certain cutscenes. I get chills just from hearing these incorporated elements. If you know it, you can tell how each instance is interwoven or slightly altered, gradually building in each cutscene until you hear the full blown song in all its glory during the end credits.

The sequel also had an Xbox 360-exclusive DLC game that takes place after the events of Dead Rising 2, continuing on from what is considered the canon ending. This was called Dead Rising 2: Case West, and it brings back Frank West to work alongside Chuck, giving you more story about the Fortune City incident. It also comes with a co-op mode allowing players to choose between controlling either Frank or Chuck. And if you want even more time with Greene, there was also an Xbox Live Arcade game released called Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, which serves as a prequel to this very sequel.

Overall, Dead Rising 2 is just as much fun as the first. If you enjoyed that, I am sure you will also enjoy the followup. Some might have been disappointed that Frank West didn’t return, but there is also a version called Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, a What If scenario which puts Frank in Fortune City instead of Chuck, and also brings back the photography mechanic of the first game. In spite of this, I believe that Chuck Greene is another really good character in the franchise. He is a man who dearly loves his daughter and will do absolutely anything to get the Zombrex required to keep her alive, putting his life on the line to ensure her survival. Unfortunately, the remastered version of Dead Rising  2 released last year as part of the franchise’s tenth anniversary celebration has a game-crashing glitch for both the Xbox One and the PS4. However, personally I have only experienced this on the Xbox One. But don’t let that stop you from playing it, because I think this is a really fun and entertaining game for zombie fanatics.

Useless Trivia

(Via Wikipedia)
  • The online multiplayer is an extension of the Terror is Reality gameshow. Four players participate, competing against each other for the most kills inside an arena full of undead. Players can use weapons and vehicles including human-sized hamster balls and chainsaw-equipped motorcycles. They also will be able to prevent other players from scoring by using various forms of “dirty” tactics.
  • In August 2010, Keiji Inafune released an eight-part video series entitled Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun. Capcom sponsoured a gathering of zombies at the London Houses of Parliament on August 30 – the best-dressed won a game console. Attendees also received a limited edition, one-of-a-kind T-shirt.
  • The High Stakes Edition of the game was available exclusively in the Capcom store, and contains a poker set, a Fortune City visitor map, a Terror Is Reality XVII admission ticket, and a chance to win a 6 ft gold bust of the zombie statue.

Rod Petrie

Gamer since 1988 at the age of five. First system was the Nintendo Entertainment System. Favourite retro systems - NES, SNES, N64, MegaDrive, PS1, and PS2.

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