Zombies over here, zombies over there...
Spray can + Traffic pylon = Zombie-brain-busting air horn. Leafblower + Diamonds = Gem-blower. Don't forget old faithful, either: the box o' nails plus the baseball bat. Of course, if you didn't know that already, you should have paid more attention in math class, because Dead Rising 2 has filled Fortune City with the undead.
[image1]Chuck Greene's made his way to Fortune City to participate in Terror Is Reality. That's the hot, new pay-per-view zombie-slashing gameshow that lets those viewers not eating a balanced diet of brains get their anti-zombie angst out. Unfortunately for Chuck, someone's out to manipulate the media and the military into believing Chuck caused a zombie outbreak in the city.
The conspiracy wraps Chuck up with CURE, a protest group for the rights of the undead. With the military surrounding Fortune City, Chuck has three days to investigate the outbreak, clear his name, keep his daughter up on her Zombrex inoculations, save survivors, slay psychopaths, and mow down as many zombies as possible. Plot threads weave in and out as specific objectives overlap on the timer. It's not hard to pick up on everything that's going on, but certain elements, especially the relationship between father and daughter, will be light if you haven't played Case Zero.
Dead Rising 2's map is vast and sprawling, much like the Vegas Strip. Fortune City still allows for the shopping mall fare while introducing newer, glitzier areas to explore. Several casinos, mall strips, parks, and hotels add up to one gigantic, zombie-infested funland. Chuck gets updates on objectives from the safe house, and while main story missions are spread a little too thin, there is a constant motivation to scour the environment for survivors and psychopaths. Finding and completing side objectives obviously adds up to a lot of bonus Prestige Points and money.
[image2]The writing behind the side objectives is stronger than even that of the main cases. In one instance, you'll have to help one survivor who was locked in a tanning bed in the back of The Venus Touch when the zombie outbreak occurred. In another, you must locate the "rawkers" (their word, not mine) Angel Lust in the park. They'll finish their set before heading back to the safehouse with you, but not before exploding a crowd full of zombie heads with amplifier feedback. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll reunite loved ones, and you'll most definitely lose one or two on the way home.
Psychopaths are a completely different beast altogether. Scattered around Fortune City are individuals who have reacted less than ideally to the outbreak, individuals including crazed mascots, cannibalistic chefs, and demented pro-zombie rights activists. These psychopaths, however, bring out the most frustrating and mundane elements of Dead Rising 2. The writing is considerably weaker here and encounters like the cannibalistic chef are poorly designed, giving enemies access to endless wells of health. Combat frustrates at best and totally infuriates at worst, leaving the player to lather-rinse-repeat. Players will get knocked down constantly, which results in a scramble to the nearest bottle of booze for health. (Huh, sounds like a GR
Adding items together to form combo weapons is incredibly satisfying. With the multitude of items available in Fortune City, there are exponentially more combos than in Case Zero. While I was wandering around the underground area of Fortune City, I spied a gasoline can. I walked a little further and saw a squirt gun. Something clicked inside my brain. I picked up both items and took them to the nearest work bench. Behold, the flamethrower. Once you complete missions or level up you gain combo cards, but creating a combo without prior knowledge is a magical feeling.
[image3]Dead Rising 2 adds a needless multiplayer direction to the zombie slaying. Whether or not you'll ever actually play with another person is up in the air. Co-op partners can drop in and out of each other's games and complete story mode objectives together. While seeing another player's Chuck outfitted in pajamas with a butt-flap and a coon-skin cap is funny, waiting for them to be near you so you can open a goddamn door is not.
Competitive multiplayer consists of a handful of mini-games designed around Terror Is Reality contests. Whoever slays the most zombies scores the most points. Playing ranked matches allows you to take your winnings back to single player. The games themselves are boring and nonsensical, setting players in giant hamster balls, on motorcycles with chainsaws, and behind launchers across from a zombie-Hollywood Squares board. The overall multiplayer experience is limited. You'll easily forget Dead Rising 2's competitive offerings.
Where Dead Rising marries Western gaming themes and content with the mores of Japanese game design that are slowly going the way of the dodo, Dead Rising 2 makes this a match made in heaven. There is so much to do, so much to see, and so many zombies to kill, all with a satisfyingly challenging player-vs.-clock set up. With multiple playthroughs in mind, Dead Rising 2 may provide all the gaming you need this holiday season. There's no way you'll be able to do everything in one shot. Going back to Fortune City with a better grasp of the map is only going to make things more enjoyable. Kill, Chuck, kill!