Gotta Swing The Bat.
Chuck Greene is a far cry from Dead Rising's original protagonist, Frank West. While Frank got an air lift into the heart of the zombie outbreak, Chuck drives his blood-spattered truck right into Still Water, a truck stop town infested with the undead. Frank covered wars, you know, but Chuck's no journalist. Chuck's just a famous motocross rider with an infected daughter, struggling to stave off the virus for another 12 hours. While Dead Rising may have left you with questions, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero leaves you with a lasting impression of what's coming next.
[image1]Case Zero introduces players to Chuck Greene, widower of the outbreak, father of little infected Katey, and all around badass. Chuck's truck gets stolen in the opening cinematic, so in addition to securing anti-zombification medicine (Zombrex) for Katey, players will have to find a means of leaving middle America. Trouble is, the army's going to come knocking in a few short hours and they'll separate Daddy and his almost-zombie darling. Veterans of Dead Rising will totally understand the time-limit mechanic, while those more accustomed to GTA's playground nature will want more time to mess around, but that's how Dead Rising works, okay?
Case Zero throws tons of zombies on screen, blood on the ground, and effects on both character and enemy models. Depending on your means of zombie pacification, Chuck can go from sparkling clean to drenched in blood in a matter of seconds. Zombies are all varied, and there are certainly enough to put "Chop Till You Drop" to shame. The graphics engine puts a shiny sheen on everything, which will look great in the bright lights of Fortune City.
Like Dead Rising, Case Zero is a melding of Japanese restrictions and Western themes (zombies, duh). This will no doubt frustrate players only interested in the narrative, but excite those who want a sense of challenge and accomplishment. Inventory slots are limited and your health does not regenerate. Leveling up increases either inventory, health, or power. Players can't sprint around town either, so good luck powering through that crowd of zombies.
[image2]Limitations like these highlights the throwback of Case Zero to its predecessor and the anticipation of Dead Rising 2, but at $5 (400 Microsoft points), this is the best possible way to demo the full retail game. Case Zero does the equivalent of lopping off a zombified arm and a leg, just to entice you. Introducing Chuck as a father out to save his daughter creates a strong bond; at the same time, Case Zero shows off so much more.
Dead Rising has always been about using anything you see as a weapon, but Case Zero introduces the sequel's biggest addition: the ability to combine weapons. Chuck is quite the handyman/makeshift genius. See that bucket over there? Grab a drill and combine them at a work bench for the aptly named Drill Bucket. Let's just say that zombies won't be looking forward to this party hat. "Shotgun + Pitchfork" isn't a math question the brain eaters will want to solve, either. Shredding zombies doesn't really get old when you can create so many unique weapons.
Case Zero offers up 6 different endings, some satisfying, some frustrating, but all of them achievable in the two-hour allotted time. Yep, only two hours. Repeat playthroughs are encouraged, though, as player stats are carried over. With tons of weapons to combine, combo cards to collect, zombies to slay, and endings to see, Case Zero is a worthy addition to the Xbox Live Arcade for the price of admission.
Ultimately though, Case Zero is one big adver-game. It's a paid demo. Who knew Chuck could be such a tease? Case Zero is an effective tie-in that enticed me to pay attention to a game I had little to no anticipation for, and introduced elements I want to explore further once Dead Rising 2 lands.