Zombies, eh. Used to be that your typical everyday zombie was a shambling, moronic mess, reminiscent of Pete Doherty on a night out. But then films such as 28 Days Later came along, and suddenly there were super-charged zombies that could sprint and bound and climb.
Well, none of that in gory action title Dead Rising, which brought back the old-fashioned Romero-style shufflers in a cheery American Mall setting, yanked straight out of Dawn Of The Dead. Dead Rising 2 doesn’t strive to be any different, beyond the casting of a new protagonist, Chuck Greene.
Chuck swiftly finds himself trapped in a huge entertainment complex called Fortune City, which has recently been overrun by hordes of brain-hungry ex-humans. Not only does Chuck have to keep his daughter topped up with Zombrex, to prevent her becoming one of the undead, but he also has to clear his name after a spurious news report blames him for the outbreak.
Dead Rising 2’s story is actually surprisingly entertaining and goes beyond the usual ‘don’t get eaten’ effort. Of course, the dialogue is hokey and some of the acting questionable, but it adds to the cheesy fun. Chuck is a sympathetic character, and someone you can really root for as you pummel zombies’ skulls into bloody mush.
Bloody mush is the definite highlight of Dead Rising 2, or rather the ingenious methods in which you create bloody mush. Chuck’s objectives (which are timed as in the original game) basically involve him getting from one end of Fortune City to the other, taking down huge numbers of zombies along the way. There are literally thousands of objects scattered around which Chuck can wield as weapons, from your typical baseball bats and lead pipes to drills, chainsaws, fireworks and even lawnmowers.
Even better, Dead Rising 2 lets you combine some items to create super weapons - for instance, chuck together a bat and a box of nails, and you get a spiky club that can tear right through a zombie’s cranium. That’s only a very basic example and there’s hundreds of more entertaining combos, but we don’t want to spoil them. The only shame is that you need to lug the right objects back to a maintenance room in order to combine them, which isn’t always practical.
We’re also disappointed by how quickly the weapons break. It’s a bit ridiculous when a sledgehammer crumbles to dust after taking down just 10 or 20 brain guzzlers, and incredibly annoying when your only remaining weapon is a foam hand. You can carry up to four weapons at once but you’ll get through them quickly considering there are often hundreds of zombies on screen at one time, and some areas are frustratingly bare when it comes to useful items.
As well as completing Dead Rising 2’s story objectives, Chuck can find and rescue other survivors for bonus experience points (get enough points and you’ll unlock extra abilities). These survivors will join you, but prove to be more of a pain than they’re worth. They get into trouble all too easily, and often you’ll flee into a new area only to find they haven’t followed you. Worse still, they often stand too close when you’re swinging a weapon, and inevitably get caught by your back-swing. They then have the audacity to turn on you, and will actually chase after you and try to kill you until you bash their stupid, blocky faces in.
Yes, Dead Rising 2 isn’t the prettiest of games. To be fair, it’s hardly surprising considering how many zombies appear on-screen at once, and even a decent Core 2 Duo machine with 3GB of RAM will run Dead Rising 2 smoothly which is a massive feat. The zombies even look and act sufficiently different to one another, with some going about their daily lives, pushing wheelchairs or tending to building works. We swear we even saw a Tom Savini zombie, before slicing it in half with a samurai sword.
We take issue with some of Chuck’s animations, however, which are stiff at times and can land you in deep trouble. For instance, swing a heavy item and he seems to take forever to finish, by which time you’re a walking prime rib, easy pickings for the zombie masses.
Still, there’s no denying Dead Rising 2 is a hilarious game, filled with ‘holy shit, did you see that?’ moments. It’s best played with friends, and the online co-op mode is a welcome inclusion, as is the Terror Is Reality multiplayer mode in which you compete with friends to kill as many shambling flesh chompers. Anyone in need of some zombie-killing action need look no further, although haters of the original Dead Rising are unlikely to be swayed by this new adventure.