Dead Rising 2 on XBOX 360, PS3, PC

February 18, 2011
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If anyone ever tells you that a zombie-apocalypse is an overused story element, then they'd be right. Maybe not so much overused, but used a hell of a lot. Used to an extent where people begin to question the amount that's it's used. (I know what I mean; it’s been a long week, okay?)

I’m pretty sure that zombies themselves have always been in the subconscious of every fiction writers mind whilst they reach the climax of the story. Can you imagine how different Harry Potter would have been if Rowling had ended the series with a communal raising of the dead? What about if the final fight sequence in Avatar resulted in all the fallen Na'vi coming back as mindless brain-eating zombies? (Actually I better not give James Cameron any ideas to steal. It'll be in Avatar 2 though, you watch.)

Audiences even begin to be able to tell when the story's going to take a turn for the undead. Even when I'm reading a book about an out-of-luck suicidal rock star, my mind is subconsciously thinking of plausible ways in which zombies could make an entrance. However I'm not the only one. Author Seth Grahame-Smith has gone through Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and inter-written additional verses, creating Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I've yet to read it, but I want to; just to see how much livelier it is.

Maybe it's an obsession; people love the living dead because of our strange necromantic freakiness. People are just weird. Strange, death obsessed weirdoes. All of us. Yeah that's right, I'm pointing at you!

It's all a good and fun storyline though; everyone loves a bit of undead lovin'. So if you love zombies just that little bit too much, Dead Rising 2 is just waiting for you. But unlike zombies, it won't bite.
Okay, so technically they're not zombies in it, but living people at the business end of a virus that's only cure is a drug called 'Zombrex'. True zombies rise up out of the ground Dead Snow style, and the ones here merely get bitten and become infected. I’m now not sure what the real zombies are; grave-dwellers or the bitten. They look like zombies, they move like zombies, they attack like zombies; so I think we can forgive the mistake that people think they are actually zombies. And I’ll also let it go because it's a very fun to kill them, despite the lack of technically accurate naming.

It's set in a nice little gambling district known as Fortune City where you (Chuck Green - in my case a dress wearing show-hat enthusiast) are taking part in the Terror Is Reality game-show, where you kill zombies/infected.

The opening sees you in an arena driving a motorbike equipped with dual-chainsaws on the handlebars, and you have to get the highest kill count. And yes, it gets crazier than this.
The plot itself involves a cheery zombie/infected outbreak, quickly turning Fortune City into a military-contained death hole. Video footage soon emerges of you letting the infected/zombies (felt like a change around) out of their game-show hold. Gasp! You've been framed!
You then have to clear your name before the military arrive and arrest you etcetera, etcetera. That's the basic premise, and I'll stop there before I get into spoiler territory.

You a basically then tasked with proving your innocence, and collecting daily doses of ‘Zombrex’ for your bitten daughter. Regular readers will know my feelings towards children, so first time around I leg her turn. I had some medicine of course; I just wanted to see what happened.

And without fail, she became a zombie. But instead of letting me carry on playing the story, the game made me start back from the latest checkpoint. So as well as my daughter having no direct involvement into helping me clear my name, she also wastes my time by making me trek back to the safe-house every day to give her some god-damn medicine.

And before you say it, yes: the time is important. Because Dead Rising 2 has a time limit for you to complete your goal, and have a total of 72 hours to do so. It works surprisingly well however, as it gives you a target. Missions will become available based on the time, and there's a set amount of time for you to complete them. After this time has passed they are gone, forever. There's far too many to be able to complete them all as well as all the main story missions in one playthrough, so it adds to the replayability value. It's up to you if you think that’s a good mechanic, but for me anything that adds extra slice-n-dice zombie fun-time is a thumbs-up from me. You could even go through once completely without doing any missions at all, rank up your level and then tackle the missions next time round. There are many approaches.

Don't be fooled into thinking that the zombies are an easy enemy; their sheer numbers make a trip from one side of the mall to the other make it incredibly tough. Especially to start with - as you get so little health that within four zombie slaps you're dead. It also doesn't have a checkpoint system, so the only method of saving is manually going into a bathroom. So chances are, if you die you will go all the way back to your last bathroom break, which could have been over half an hour ago, on the other side of the f***ing city.

You will notice very early on that there is an awful lot of loading screens. You will load into new area of the city, load into all the cut scenes, load out of all the cut scenes, load on each restart, load to look at the map... The amount of time Chuck spends in loading screens he could have developed a cure for the disease. But they're not too bad, if it means that each new area will have enough squishy flesh sacks for me to obliterate with my sledgehammer, I'm happy.

One of the best parts of the game is that you can combine weapons. In fact, it's more like combining objects to make weapons. A completely harmless water gun and gas can combine into a deadly flamethrower. A box of nails and a baseball bat combine to an ungodly spiked bat. Part of the fun is finding the combinations and creating the weapons yourself. But one of my favourites is when you’re bored of your dull bucket, and you happen to have an unwanted power drill lying around, and all of a sudden, it's a Drill-Bucket. Pick it up, push it on a zombies head and watch the blood erupt. It's hilarious. Or if you think like Mr Schwarzenegger, I’m a blatant serial killer in the making.

I tend to believe that if a game makes me so angry I'm swearing at the screen, it isn't fun and I won't play it anymore. But Dead Rising 2 is an exception. Its painful annoyances seem to be balanced out by the fact that I've had so much fun on it.

It's the combination of the bloody fun of drill-bucketing a zombie to death, dressing up Chuck making him slaughter infected in his underpants or wearing a dress (or my favourite: an electric rake) and watching everyone still taking him seriously, and the sheer number of enemies to violently destroy. Its' hilariously over-the-top bloody violence satisfies me greatly, and I would recommend it for anyone who wants a bit of fun before the latest Call of Duty come around, spoiling your chances of playing anything new for the next 4 months.

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xr100 said...
Oct. 10, 2011 at 11:06 am
This game is really fun and interesting, what i like the most is you kill zombie's
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