Four years have passed since Capcom’s first tongue-in-cheek splatterfest and very little has changed. Gamers are still immersed in a free roaming world of the undead, inside the confines of a shopping mall, although this time it masquerades as an entertainment complex. Protagonist Chuck Greene is on a mission to save his daughter and evade the undead before military intervention in three days time. Unfortunately there’s the added complication that he has been framed for the zombie outbreak. Chuck’s tragic figure is much more likeable than the cold, arrogant Frank West of the first game. This and the improved storyline set up Dead Rising 2 as an instantly promising zombie slaying rampage.
The game is graphically superior to the first as crimson sprays in all directions and zombies bay for blood. This abundance of bloodshed is depicted in a cartoon style more akin to Tokyo Gore Police than A Serbian Film. Dead Rising 2 is about bombastic, outrageous gestures. The volume of on screen zombies is awe-worthy as Chuck lacerates through a battalion of the undead using anything from his fists to fish, from gold chains to chainsaws. Hilarity ensues at the absurdity of it all when throwing fragments of jewellery at ravenous salivating corpses that do little more than flinch. This ridiculous sensation can be heightened with spray paint laden zombies or a bad pair of shorts!
The Evil Dead of the videogame world continues its surreal plight with custom weaponry. Whilst playing Dead Rising 2, points are accrued through escorting survivors to the safe room, defeating bosses, attacking zombies and simply playing the game. As you gain more experience and level up you are rewarded with various bonuses including combo cards. Combo cards reveal formulas to create custom weapons, such as a baseball bat covered in nails or a whiskey-newspaper Molotov. Imaginative concoctions lead to inventive deaths. In a similar mix-and-match vein gamers can create health cocktails that bless gamers with bonus abilities such as increased quickness or invincibility.
The game mechanics are similar to the original. Gamers must complete story missions and may indulge in optional side objectives. These are well worth your time and provide a further depth to the game. Whilst there isn’t much more to it than annihilating the undead, it’s impossible to truly emphasise the pure joy one has whilst cutting through a crowd of zombies with an electric guitar, or the satisfying feel of victory as you motorbike your way over the masses in one satisfying scarlet squelch.
Unfortunately Dead Rising 2 suffers from a few outdated notions. Boss fights lack the intelligence and strategy that one expects in 2010. Bosses simply run at you, reduce your health significantly and soak up ample damage before their health bar so much as flinches. Given boss fights occur sporadically, with no foresight to save, this often leads to frustration and cursing. Equally dated is the text you must read when Chuck receives a phone call, this is particularly problematic when slicing through a crowd of hungry decimators.
For multiplayer fans there’s co-operative mode via Xbox Live, which is great provided gamers don’t mind sticking to similar areas on the map. Multiplayer mode, ‘Terror is Reality’ pits you against others in various mini games, whilst initially fun its long-term appeal is sparse.
Dead Rising 2 is a much more polished effort than the original, providing fun and laughs for zombie fans that want something more Raimi than Romero. Whilst the outdated elements are frustrating, the hedonistic triumph that one experiences when dressed in a mankini drubbing a zombie with a crowbar is greater. Take a swig of Wild Turkey, prepare yourself with an arsenal of imaginative weaponry and enjoy the most overblown zombie bashing experience to date!
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