Games You Might Wanna Try Out: Dead Rising 2

Having already played Dead Rising 2 on the PS3 a few years ago, I decided to pick up a copy on PC during the recent Capcom sales on Steam in order to play with a friend using its online co-op features (fingers crossed). I am happy to report that the PC port and co-op work just fine (remember to match the download region in the Steam settings), and the base game itself is just as enjoyable as I remembered it to be, even 6 years after its initial release.

Dead Rising 2 is a third-person zombie survival game, starring protagonist Chuck Greene, a former motocross champion in Las Vegas who lost his wife and has his daughter Katey bitten in the Vegas outbreak a few years ago. Fast forward to the present, Chuck now finds himself in Fortune City, a brand new casino city in Nevada, participating in the zombie-slaugtherfest reality TV show Terror is Reality in order to afford his daughter's daily Zombrex injections. Very quickly though, things go south as the show's zombies escape their holding cells and infect almost everyone in the city. Escaping into a safehouse with his daughter, Chuck soon finds himself framed for the incident and has to clear his name before the military evacuation in a few days, all while finding more zombrex for his daughter. He is by all accounts, having a baaad day.

The story of Dead Rising 2 is much more personable than that of the first game, as Chuck is a more believable and sympathetic character than the edgy daredevil Frank West. The story's progression is done through a series of scenarios that must be completed while also keeping Katey supplied with Zombrex every 24 hours. Chuck's actions in those few days are on a constant timer, as every main quest and side mission has a start and end time, failing side quest has no real consequence, but not making it in time to story missions means the plot will fail continue in that playthrough. Worry not though, as you can restart the whole story from the beginning at any time, bringing along all unlocks and levels from previous playthroughs. Love it or hate it, this signature timer and repeated playthroughs is what makes the Dead Rising unique and gives the player a sense or purpose and urgency in an otherwise messed-up world.

The actual plot of Dead Rising 2 is actually quite entertaining and engrossing, providing plenty of tension and twists throughout to keep things interesting. The setting and main plot is as far as the game takes itself  all that seriously though, as there is a pervasive sense of tongue in cheek humor in just about every other aspect of the game. The game is pretty self-aware of itself, embracing a slew of stereotypical zombie-scenario characters such as the sultry reporter and the volatile cop, who spout out hammy lines that only the developers of the early Resident Evil games could have come out with. Throughout the city you will find other survivors whose motivations and situations are often absurd or utterly ridiculous. Chuck himself can pretty much weild anything and everything in the city as a weapon, from the typical baseball bat to chainsaws  to giant teddy bears to d̶i̶d̶o̶s̶  messagers and sonic guns. Chuck can also find a wide assortment of normal or whacky outfits to change into, and wears whatever he has on into cutscenes as well, and it great! Seeing Chuck wade into serious situations with a hawaian shirt and Blanka mask makes it difficult to keep a straight face after all.

Gameplay itself involves Chuck exploring the various places in the casino city, completing story missions, finding Zombrex, saving survivors and bringing them to the safehouse, and of course fighting the zombies, lots and lots of zombies. Almost every area of the city is infested with a horde of hungry zombies, and to deal with them Chuck needs to use whatever he can find in the city itself or craft combo weapons from them. New to the series in a weapon crafting system which allows Chuck to combine everyday tools into devastating weapons from the spiked bat to the Mechanical teddy bear turret.

At the start of the game Chuck will not be the strongest survivor around, but as you play the game he gains experience and levels up, gaining extra health, inventory space, speed, damage and new skills. This makes the first playthrough pretty difficult and a tad frustrating for new players, but this is how the game is meant to be played, as players gain levels and learn the ins ans outs of each mission, manage time better while planning out more efficient routes and quest sequences. By the end of all that Chuck will become an unstoppable zombie killing machine, and striving to rescue every survivor and complete every quest in a single playthrough will bring a strong sense of purpose and accomplishment for players.

Graphically, Dead Rising 2 looks solid even today but not outstanding. Its ability to render hundred of walking dead is still as impressive as ever, though with the occasional framerate dip and screen tearing (more so on the console versions). Gone are also the horrendous load times from the consoles, allowing lightning fast transitions between areas on the PC. Fortune City itself is a fantastic area to explore, featuring multiple casinos, shopping areas, hotels and an underground maintenance tunnel, each featuring a staggering amount of object Chuck can interact with or use. The keyboard and mouse controls on the PC port was also surprisingly good, and I never found myself needing to plug in my controller at any point. If I had any gripes with the game it has to do with some clunky controls and aim assist in regards to certain weapons, special skills and especially the wonky vehicles controls. It may handle notably better than the first game, but there are definitely areas of improvement to be made.

Finishing the game doesn't mean Chuck is done however, as there are multiple endings and a slew of achievements requiring players to find every survivor, try every weapon, built every combo, or even try on every cosmetic. It even ups the ante on the goal to kill 53,596 zombies in one go to a whopping 72,000 zombies. There is plenty to do in fortune city, and completionists will find plenty of bang for their buck here.

Multiplayer co-op also works great in the PC port, allowing hop-in hop-out multiplayer at any point during the campaign. A little finicky at first, once you get the process down its fairly simple to enjoy some jolly cooperation. The two players must always be in the same area at all times, and seeing two Chuck might be a little strange, but their sheer fun of playing with another person more than makes up for it, and it also makes the more difficult quests much more manageable.

All in all, Dead Rising 2 is a zombie survival game with a solid story, good gameplay, engrossing mechanics, and a very fun online multiplayer feature. It is good buy especially with its low price tag and an exceptional experience among the many uninspired zombie games these days. Anyone interested in trying it will be in for a real treat.


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