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Dead Rising 2 PS3 Review

Zombies always find us no matter where we hide. They find us in mansions, malls, our front lawns, Louisiana, in post apocalyptic futures and even WWII. And now they have found us yet again in Dead Rising 2, Capcom’s other zombie franchise. As aging motocross champion Chuck Greene, you must save the last remaining survivors from a zombie onslaught in Nevada, clear your name off a terrorist plot and make sure your daughter Katey takes her medicine all within a few days length.

The game is a vast improvement graphically over the first Dead Rising. Humans do not look like their features are painted on and characters look less robotic and awkward when they move. In order to render so many zombies, civilians and items on screen at once, the game has to make sacrifices by lowering the resolution and using less detailed textures. Even with all of these tweaks, the game clips and the framerate drops significantly sometimes down to single digits. The variety of zombies you face is also lackluster, but you will encounter new enemy types like robbers and mercenaries depending on where you are in the story.

The setup for the narrative is intriguing. After the zombie outbreak in Colorado, people decided to turn the tragedy into reality (TV that is). Terror is Reality, or TIR, is a mix between Wrestlemania and Smash TV. Zombies are used for elaborately gruesome competitions where four contestants try to kill as many of them as possible in order to get the highest score. Amazingly, something goes wrong, the zombies break free and Dead Rising gets a sequel.

Thankfully, this time around the photography aspect has been completely taken out of the game. PP, the game’s version of experience points, is now acquired through just killing zombies and rescuing survivors. This helps streamline the gameplay by making the mechanics less convoluted and focusing on what the player wants to do which is tear up zombies. You can garner extra PP by going to maintenance closets and building bigger and better death instruments. These combinations help keep the game feeling fresh even if some of the combinations make little sense—a gem and a flashlight make a light sword? The bonus PP doesn’t kick in until you have found the combo card that corresponds with your newly created weapon which doesn’t make much sense seeing as how players should be rewarded for resourcefulness especially in a game filled with so many resources. Just because you don’t have a picture of a bat with nails in it doesn’t mean you can’t figure out the logistics involved in its creation. PP eventually causes you to level up making you stronger and unlocks new combo cards as well as new skills which make a substantial difference as they start to stack up.

The controls are designed to make you more vulnerable to zombie attacks. Aiming a gun isn’t as simple as playing Vanquish. You have to hold a shoulder button to aim and then fire with the X button which sounds easy enough, but when was the last time you fired a gun with a face button? (trigger buttons were made for a reason). Chuck cannot run very fast and cannot carry more than five items initially. He is supposed to level up as time goes on, but these hindrances feel as contrived and nonsensical as they did in the first game.

Also carrying over from the first game, the narrative structure is created by your direct involvement with the world. When you fail to save someone or skip missions, these details linger on until the seventy-two hour period is over. The game is designed in such a way that your stats will carry over to the next play through. Gradually you become one step ahead of the game and can dispatch zombies easily after building up your level and simply remembering what happened the last time you played that mission. This structure is not particularly enjoyable forcing you to make mistakes and play poorly. People who are not familiar with the original Dead Rising will wonder how exactly they are supposed to complete every objective within the time limit, but the truth is you are not expected to complete everything your first time through which forces you to make hard decisions about who lives and who dies or unwittingly luring groups of survivors out to their dooms. Survivors are much smarter in Dead Rising 2 and will defend themselves with more gusto, but all the gusto in the world won’t save them from an unexpected encounter with a psychopath—the game’s version of a boss battle.

When the single player game becomes too stressful or monotonous, you can have a friend join in to help you or you can become a contestant on Terror is Reality. You and four others compete against each other for points which, in ranked matches, convert to in-game currency you can use to buy food or medicine. These mini games are pretty fun, but nothing gets more involved than something you can find in Fusion Frenzy. Eventually the multiplayer will get tiresome after the initial shock of riding a “Zomboni” wears off.

The Dead Rising franchise is like no other game on the market. What continues to make the franchise so unique is its structure and reliance on a player’s ability to break a game so to speak. It is this structure that ultimately makes Dead Rising 2 inherently flawed for most people looking to play an action game. Fans of the previous game will find a refined experience that does away with some of the redundancy and clutter of the original, but everyone else should board up their windows and hide in the cellar until this crisis passes.



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