Monday, September 19, 2011

dead rising 2
by verdeberg

DEVELOPER: Blue Castle Games
ESRB RATING: M for Mature

With a tagline like "72 hours to kill... Thousands of zombies... What would Chuck do?", features like building combo weapons from "almost anything and everything" and online co-op, whats not to love... A LOT.

I was lead to believe that Dead Rising 2 was a more involved version of a "zombie smasher" type game where you and your friends can run around finding more and more inventive ways to kill zombies under the veil of a "clear your name and escape" plot. I might be wrong but I always figured that any game that featured thousands of zombies would be hours of zombie bashing fun... I was wrong. Dead Rising 2 definitely sucked the fun out of that concept for me.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, listing everything I hated about this game, I should probably explain the concept of Dead Rising 2. Dead Rising 2
has an interesting enough storyline. Fortune City is the site of the latest zombie disease outbreak. You play as Chuck Greene, a former Motocross superstar who is a contestant in Fortune City's "Terror is Reality" game show. Your wife was lost in the Vegas outbreak and now your daughter Katey has been infected. To keep Katey from succumbing to zombification you must find or purchase the expensive antizombie drug Zombrex. To make matters worse, someone has released thousands of zombies into Fortune City. A video of the incident has been released by the news and it would appear that the perpetrator was you, Chuck Greene! So now on top of everything else, you are public enemy #1. You have 72 hours until help arrives and you must clear your name before then.

Your "home base" is a makeshift sanctuary where the uninfected are all held up while they are awaiting help. While most of the inhabitants don't know whether to trust your story of innocence, they reluctantly allow you to leave your daughter. While she is under their protection, you run through Fortune City trying to clear your name. You must regain the people's trust by helping the lost and stranded people find sanctuary, defeating numerous "psychopaths", finding Zombrex for your daughter, and bashing zombies. Unfortunately, the seemingly most fun part of that statement, "bashing zombies," is reduced to an extremely minor element of the game play.

Leading up to my Dead Rising 2 purchase last year, Anotherdae and I were looking for a fun co-op game. I had read multiple reviews of Dead Rising 2 and was prepared for certain pitfalls, mainly the annoyance of the constant loading. Basically, whenever you enter a different area in the game you must endure at least a minute of loading. Most likely the delay is due to the incredible detail with which each area has been designed. So that basically rules out picking up Dead Rising 2 for some quick, fun zombie bashing play. But I was prepared for that...

What I was not prepared for was the ever-present, ever-stressful, ticking clock. The clock counts down the time within which you must complete multiple, simultaneous missions. I imagine the player is supposed to pick and choose which mission takes priority and whatever choices you make as Chuck effect the rest of the game. This creates multiple paths you can take and affect the ending of the game. So basically, while running from mission to mission, you must pass by thousands and thousands of tempting zombies that you'd love to murdalize but you just don't have time. Because of the unpredictable time length of each mission, even if you think "hey I have a little time to bust just a few zombie heads on my way to the next mission", you have no way of knowing how long that next mission will take. That's pretty stressful, and I'm sorry, but that sucks. Combine that with a co-op experience where one person is stressed about time and the other person really wants to let off some aggression on a zombie's face (with a nail bat), it definitely lends itself to starting an argument.

Allow me to expand further on a point that I mentioned where each mission takes an unpredictable amount of time to complete. For example, Chuck encounters a crazed Italian chef (one of the aforementioned "psychopaths") who has decided to start catering to the zombies by cooking humans. You set out to fight him and save the woman he has cowering in the meat freezer. This fight can take an EXTREMELY long time as the chef keeps healing himself throughout the fight. Capcom is known for such puzzling challenges and there is always a trick to beating it in a timely fashion. But there just so happens to be a ticking clock that is counting down, and if for whatever reason it takes you too long to finish this mission, you will fail and then fail subsequent missions that are also placed closely on the time line. So, even when you defeat the crazed chef, your momentary feeling of victory is short lived because you realize you don't have enough time to do another mission before you move on. Throughout the game you are faced with many time conditions just like this. It's just not fun.

You would think that playing with a friend would relieve some of this stress but it really doesn't. This game isn't really conducive to teamwork. You might think you are coming to your friend's rescue because he is on the bottom of a 10 zombie pile-on but then you realize that while you are swinging away with your nail bat clearing away the zombies you are also hitting your partner... drastically reducing his life. Now this wouldn't be SO bad if life was easy to come by in the game, but its not.

There are 2 things that are really important in Dead Rising 2... health and a supply of good, strong weapons. The source of health throughout the game is food and beverage; which at most times is scarce. As you play the game, you realize that it is a good idea to always carry some food with you but your character can only hold a very limited number of weapons and supplies. So, when facing an exceedingly difficult foe or you get hurt through friendly fire, you are only limited to what either you or your partner is carrying. Otherwise you or your partner has to go running around the mall or wherever you are to find more food/drink. Combine that with the aforementioned stressful time condition and you realize that there is no time to do such wandering for commodities to save your partner. There is no auto-save function and if you die or botch an important mission, or just take too long to get from one place to another you must restart from your last save point which, in my experience, is frustratingly far from where you made your fatal error. Stressful and not fun.

Also, god forbid either you or your partner wants to go on a zombie killing spree while the clock is running. Anotherdae and I found each other yelling at one another over the stress of time. After less than 10 hours of total game play, Anotherdae and I got fed up and decided that Dead Rising 2 just wasn't worth the stress of playing anymore and we both shelved our copies. We both shelved a brand new 60 dollar game that both of us knew neither of us would ever pick up again! 60 bucks down the drain!

Video games are supposed to be fun and not a source of stress. We have jobs and real lives that provide us with enough stress. We don't need that bullshit from a video game.

Now, I am sure some of you are reading this review wondering "why is Verdeberg wasting his time and energy writing a review for a year-old game he obviously didn't like so much that he didn't even get close to finishing?" Because now Capcom is releasing Dead Rising 2 Off The Record for 40 bucks which is Dead Rising 2 but "offers an alternate storyline", solves some of the time problems, adds some new elements, and places the hero of the original Dead Rising, Frank West, in Fortune City in place of Chuck Greene. This should really only be a 10-15 dollar DLC add-on. Now, everyone who suffered through Dead Rising 2 over the past year can now look at this release and feel thoroughly insulted. It feels reminiscent of the DLC missions Capcom released for Resident Evil 5 (a FAR superior game) at 5 dollars each or when Big Surf Island was introduced for Burnout Paradise by Critereon for 15 dollars.

Another reason why I was inspired to write this review was the hype around the release of the new game, Dead Island, which sparked some sort of post traumatic stress feelings that I had since buried in regards to Dead Rising 2. I entertained the idea of buying Dead Island for all of 2 minutes until I saw some footage and coverage on G4tv which highlighted game play that seemed all-to-familiar to me after playing Dead Rising 2. The combat videos and building of combo weapons just sparked really familiar negative feelings. I had bought Dead Rising 2 to satisfy my love of mercilessly re-killing zombies. Now I can't even look at another zombie bashing game without feeling apprehension?

I hate that Dead Rising 2 has soured my love for the zombie bashing genre!

I give Dead Rising 2 a D. It had all the makings of an A game but that timer ruined it for me. I understand that Chuck Greene only had 72 hours in Fortune City but Capcom could have thought of a better way to convey that idea. As someone who happily owns many Capcom games I am very disappointed in them for this one. I've never thought to trade in a game I've yet to finish but I should have gotten rid of this one while it was still worth some kind of trade-in value at Gamestop.

There's no time

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