Review – Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
A taste of things to come.
We never had the chance to review the original Dead Rising as it arrived long before PEOWW came together, but it with no hesitation that I say it would have scored a ten. Sure, people can criticise various aspects of the game and are probably right to, but the reason the game deserved accolades was because it got so much right. When you put together the elements – the great story, the tense gameplay, the brilliant touches of humour and the powerhouse game engine – there was an embarassment of riches that far outweighed any percieved flaws. Dead Rising didn’t get everything right, but it got more right that any other game released at that time. So you can knock a couple of points off, as long as you start from twelve out of ten.
However, recent events – namely Crackdown 2 – have taught us that games developers are more than happy to rework classics into piss-poor sequels for a quick buck. So it was with much trepidation that I downloaded Case Zero. Indeed it took me two days to fire it up. After all, on paper this is basically a demo for Dead Rising 2 but with a twist. It’ll cost you 400M$P. To paraphrase Gunnery Sgt Hartman “why are you not stomping Case Zero‘s guts out?”
Well firstly, this isn’t exactly a demo. It’s a prologue to the full game featuring a level (if level is the right word) that isn’t in Dead Rising 2 (although clearly it could have been). It tells the story of Chuck Greene, a famous motorcross champion, and his zombie-infected daughter as they make their way to Las Vegas (the setting for Dead Rising 2). After a fairly ropey looking cutscene, Chuck is tasked with finding some Zombrex (a drug that gives bitten people an extra twelve hours before zombism sets in) for Katey as well as a way out of the middle-of-nowhere town they have ended up in. To complicate matters, government soldiers are coming to quarantine the town which won’t be good news for the kid.
The town of Still Creek is very small with just a handful of buildings to enter. It’s a little like Silent Hill but minus the fog and weirdness. You’ll learn the layout pretty quickly and given that you are only given twelve hours (which is an hour in realtime) to complete your objectives, Capcom have done the smart thing and kept the layout simple.
That said, the game is packed with things to do. Well, things to kill zombies with. Each building offers its own death-dealing opportunities. From the chainsaws and pitchforks of the hardware store to the swords, bows and guns of the hunting shack. Even the poker chips in the casino can be used as a weapon, albeit a very inefficient one.
Prior to playing this I was totally nonplussed about Dead Rising 2 given the recent rash of sequels to first wave software like Lost Planet and Crackdown(s) being even worse than their predecessors so it’s no small miracle that Blue Castle have managed to take the Dead Rising template and improved it so much. All those annoyances that bugged us in Dead Rising, like the dodgy survivor AI, limited save system and general lack of mobility, have gone and the small but vital improvements like being able to strafe with firearms have raised my expectation levels well above other new sequels like CoD: Black Ops and Fallout: New Vegas.
Sure you can lap it in less than three hours and ignoring the bonuses it gives you for the full game it doesn’t look like good value for your M$Ps on paper. However for the sheer amount of fun you can have just going all Ed Hacken on hordes of zombies you won’t feel short changed give the amount of shit you could spend your 400 M$P on like Root Beer Tapper or even worse games that are twice the price. Extended demo or not this is the best value game to come out on XBLA for a long time.
Secondary Score: 8/10
Aside from the case file missions (give Katie her Zombrex, find and assemble the motorcycle parts) you also get survivors to rescue and, if you’re bothered about achievement, weapon combo cards to earn. These are earned by completing objectives and combining items. For example, a canoe paddle and a chainsaw makes an ultra-violent puglestick. I’ll leave you to find the other combinations but suffice to say, the imagination and humour of the first game are present and correct when it comes to creative ways to dispatch a zombie.
The best thing about Case Zero is the potential it shows when it comes to Dead Rising 2. Firstly, for better or worse, the save system is now a lot friendlier. Three saves slots and the option to save after key mission points will definitely win over some people. Also, the survivor AI seems to be much better. Once they’ve joined you really don’t need to worry about the survivors as they are all capable of following you with mininal supervision. This might dumb down the game a bit but it will certainly make it a lot more accessible.
Add to that proper strafing controls and text that doesn’t require a hi-def telly and you can rest assured that Capcom have listened to the criticism. On the less tasty side, the graphics seem to be of the same standard as the original game which isn’t really on for 2010. That said, this may be because of the download-only nature of the game, maybe they’ll be better on the full retail version. We’ll let you know.
Case Zero isn’t a particularly long experience and you’ll probably have it done and dusted – achievements and all – in a day or two but it’s well worth playing though and is priced just right at £3.80. The best thing is that it’s got us all moist for Dead Rising 2 and thanks to Case Zero we’ll be carrying over a level 5 Chuck Greene into the full game. A nice touch indeed. Dead Rising 2? Bring it on.