‘Dead Rising 2’ expands and improves on original zombie game

jheeter@macon.comOctober 15, 2010 

The original “Dead Rising” game was one of the first big hits for the Xbox 360.

The survival-horror game was also one of the first games I owned when I got my Xbox 360 back in 2006.

The original game’s protagonist, photographer Frank West, tried to survive a zombie outbreak in a Colorado mall.

When Capcom announced a sequel was being developed, the Japanese-based company proclaimed it would be bigger than the first.

Capcom and Blue Castle Games delivered on that promise.

“Dead Rising 2” isn’t confined to one mall, but rather a sizeable section of Fortune City, which resembles Las Vegas. The game takes place in several casinos and venues throughout the city. There are more zombies this time around, and new protagonist Chuck Greene has found some interesting ways to deal with the pests.

Creativity is an important element in “Dead Rising 2.” which unlike its predecessor is also available on the PlayStation 3. Greene makes use of that with the ability to construct his own weapons. Each of the buildings in the game has a maintenance room where Greene has pieced together two items to build a super-weapon, such as a bow that shoots dynamite arrows or boxing gloves with knives, so you can do your best Wolverine impression.

Along with the larger scale, customization of weapons is one of Capcom’s big selling points for the game. If you played the original, you know there are literally thousands of zombies to fight off. Innovative weapons help, although you can’t piece just any two items together.

The other new addition to the series is multiplayer. A friend can join in at any time, but there is also an online competition separate from the main game.

A big part of the game’s storyline is a television show inside the game called “Terror Is Reality.” Greene is a contestant on the show, which is an “American Gladiators”-style take on fighting zombies. In one of the multiplayer options, you can play against three other competitors in a combination of nine different events that tie into an episode. Although this option is separate from the main game, money earned in the mini-games can be transferred to the main story.

Some of the bad parts from the first game have returned.

Greene is still encouraged to save other survivors of the outbreak, but the non-playable characters make poor decisions and can be difficult to save. This is a sandbox game, so saving the survivors is optional, and it can bog you down in the main story.

That brings me to the other problem. Like the first game, you have 72 hours to complete the missions before the military comes to Fortune City. Developers design sandbox games for exploration, but playing against the clock doesn’t encourage much of that. It always feels like a race against time, and that takes away from the game’s potential.

“Dead Rising 2” is a fun game, probably better than the original, but it certainly isn’t without its problems.

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