Dead Rising 2

(Low level spoilers)
I've been playing Dead Rising 2 since it's UK release, and I've now almost finished the game (Just need to complete overtime mode), so I feel I've played enough to pass some judgements on Capcom's latest title.

On the whole, it's defiantly an enjoyable experience. It's much in the same vein as it's predecessor- certainly not a world class game, but an entertaining title and very fun to play. But sadly it still shares many of Dead Rising's flaws, and if you haven't purchased it yet, I would like to warn you about a few things in Dead Rising 2, and then tell you about some of the awesome stuff that is in it. Seriously, it's worth your time and I strongly recommend it, even if you wait a while for it to pop up pre owned or for the retail price to drop. That disclaimer aside, let's get the bad aspects out of the way first.

1.Save system.
This has to go. I'm sorry, but it does. It's awful- easily the worst element of Dead Rising 2. I've had my rant on save points in the past, but to give you the TL;DR version- Save points suck and the only purpose they serve is in survival horror games to instil a fear of death, in that you need to play though a section of the game again. Dead Rising 2, is not a survival horror game, and neither was Dead Rising 1. Yes, there are zombies everywhere, yes you have limited capacity for items, yes you're alone in a hostile world, but really... it's not horror when you're scything down legions of zombies using a set of bowie knives duct taped to some boxing gloves is it? Even more so if you do it while wearing women's clothing. Calling this survival horror is like trying to call Army of Darkness a horror movie.

Don't get me wrong, as I said Dead Rising is a great game (I love Army Of Darkness also), but it's not a horror game. Not by a long shot. Because of that I get pissed off when I die and realise I forgot to save for the last half hour and I need to do everything all over again. It's not tense when I know my life is on the line- it's a precursor to ragequit. It's also f###ing annoying when I run into a psychopath for the first time and I've not saved, as I know they will probably kill me while I learn their moves. And yes, you can save before initiating any encounter, but that involves taking a long journey to the nearest save point, and in a game where you are constantly against the clock, this is not a good idea, especially when there are so many 'quests' to do- any one of which could result in a psychopath if you don't know what to expect.

Bottom line, normal save system please. This isn't a horror game and the save system detracts from Dead Rising 2's biggest asset- the fun factor. A possible alternative though would be retries, or at least a quicksave system.

2.The Psychopaths.
In all fairness, Dead Rising 2's psychopaths are a big step up from the original Dead Rising. They are not quite as hideously overpowered, and thanks to Dead Rising 2's far superior control the fights don't feel quite as cheap as they used to. If you loose, it's probably because you screwed up or just didn't learn the boss' patterns quickly enough. Sadly however, some psychopaths remain insanely difficult. For some of them it's an asset. One guy on a motorbike for example requires you to have perfect timing and good reflexes to take him head on. However, if you can get creative there are other ways to deal him that are easier. I'm all for the encouragement of lateral thinking.

Sadly however, there remain two or three psychopaths who are a lesson in frustration. One of them called Randy is extremely fast, packs a massive punch and the arena you fight him in is very small and very packed. Often the only way to stand a chance against these psychopaths is using tactics that are so meta they boarder on exploits.

The last boss of the main game mode is easily one of the cheapest boss fights since Crackdown's later Shai Gen bosses with their tightly picked infinite re spawn points. Not to spoiler you, but this person is almost unkillable in hand to hand, shooting them prompts them to roll (which makes them invincible) and their ranged attack hits very hard and stuns you. Oh and they also have some off map support with an AoE the size of the Yucatan peninsula. Oh and you have to fight them on pretty much open ground. Oh and they have no superpowers- none of thier apparent invulnerability is ever explained.

It seems the philosophy has leaned heavily on what could be done to make it hard for the player, with no thought given to how the player might actual beat the boss. Basically, you need to meta game the designers.

These guys kill the end game. Once they appear the fun factor takes a nose dive as if you fight them head on, you'll be there forever as more and more pop up. If you run away from them, they're fast enough that you end up with a train, meaning if anything snags you or stops you, they dog pile you under a mountain of festering necrotic flesh. Your only hope- only hope- is to keep running and stop for nothing- not for maintenance rooms, not for save points, not for Jesus himself. Don't even open the damn map once you have a train of these things. Oh, and I'm not certain, but I'm quite sure that queens only stun them. All this basically means that once these guys appear, Dead Rising 2 devolves into simply getting from point A to B for the next mission, stopping only at your peril. Factor in the save point fiasco with how often these things can drag you down (and the timer stopping you visiting safe save points), and the closing chapters of Dead Rising 2 really don't live up to the first few hours of gameplay. Oh, and to cap it all of they have a ranged attack too.

Well, with that unpleasantness out of the way, let's take a look at some of the better aspects of the game.

1.Combo weapons.
I always get suspicious when game developers make a big deal out of one feature of a game (usually, for good reason), but I have to say the combo weapon system in Dead Rising 2 is very well executed and very entertaining. My personal favourite weapons are the claw gloves, made by combining a set of boxing gloves with a bowie knife. With all that yellow on, Chuck stars to kind of remind me of a certain superhero...

You can also power up your combo weapons and gain extra bonuses from them by acquiring combo cards. These items are given to you for levelling up, and a few of the best ones are rewards for completing certain in game challenges.

Some of these combo weapons are logical and quite well grounded in reality, such as attaching a machete to the end of a pole. Others are downright insane such as a robot head mask with a lawn mower engine and blade stuck on the top. And yes, you do run around head butting zombies with it while it's turned on. See, not a horror game- just a fun one!

Nearly all survivors can now look after themselves pretty well. Give them a decent weapon and you don't really need to worry about them (just avoid catching them when you attack). Give them a good weapon and they are actually helpful. Indeed, without giving away too much, there's one bit of the game where saving lots of survivors really pays off...

Only a few survivors actually need to be carried or otherwise assisted, either through injury or circumstance. Even better, if a survivor is grappled by a zombie, they can break free by themselves in fairly short order. Basically, so long as you're not using them as your private army (and believe me, you can), or leading them into hordes of zombies, you shouldn't loose a survivors through their own idiocy.

3.Chuck Greene

He's just a better character than Frank West. He's more likeable, more competent, and self assured without being cocky. He's also doesn't take pictures of everything every two minutes. The character still certainly isn't Oscar material, but he's better rounded that Frank.

4.Control and gameplay.

Yes, yes, yes! The control is without a doubt far superior to Dead Rising 1. Everything feels better, everything is more smooth and more responsive, the camera is slick and the character physics work well. Dead Rising one was plagued by poor control which made many of the psychopath fights almost intolerable. I can honestly say that not once did I feel like I'd been cheated into death by the controls while playing Dead Rising 2.

5.The psychopaths.
Despite the few exceptions noted above, most of the psychopath fights are actually very well done, classic 'remember the pattern and spot the opening' style boss battles. I enjoyed most of them, and the smoother controls really paid off during them. Certainly a step up.

6.It's just fun damnit!
It's nice to see a game that doesn't take itself too seriously. So many games these days try to tell deep, complex stories or focus on a finely balanced multiplayer experience. This is all laudable, but really very few developers have the skill to pull of a truly artistic piece of gaming, something that just comes together and engages the mind and the soul in the way a good book or movie can. That's not to say developers should give up trying, but it's nice to play a game that knew where it was going, and worked to that goal. There are no morals, no subtext, just goodguys, badguys and a shit tonne of zombies to dismember in a variety of interesting ways.

Now, if you'll excuse me there's a lead pipe and a rocket firework here and... HOLY SHIT!

4 Response to "Dead Rising 2"

  1. Kana says:

    1. The save points are perfectly fine, just because you have issues with them, doesn't make them a bad design. I'm sick and tired of overly easy babysitting autosave in every modern game. Having a manual save system is a very good thing.

    2. The psychopaths are VERY EASY once you learn their pattern and strategy, there is nothing at all wrong with any single one of them. Just because you cannot beat Randy or Sullivan doesn't make them ill designed (as you claim), it's just like if you were playing Megaman 3, and crying about how terrible game design it is that you cannot beat needle man with your megabuster. It is just downright stupid :) Any time you get beaten by a Psycho in Dead Rising 2, is of your own inadequacy.

    3. At this point, i wonder if you're playing the same game as i am, because i never had the slightest problem with the zombies, endgame or not. If you get swamped, you merely dodgeroll out of them, shoot them, swipe them with something, et.c. They're very easy to take care of, as they're merely cannonfodder, like the normal zombies. The only difference is that they can actually defend themselves somewhat.

    Evis T says:

    1. That's just a matter of opinion, and mine is that needing to take a detour every five minutes to save when you could be out in the game having fun is a bad idea.

    2. Yes the psychos are easy when you know how. They are old school bosses- learn the attack pattern and exploit. I don't like Sullivan because to me he just feels like a cheap cop out. No reason is given as to why he's invulnerable half the time. How does doing a forward roll make you immune to gunfire? I thought it lacked creativity. As I said in the above piece, the majority of psychopaths were very well done. There are only a few exceptions. Oh and as for difficulty, I've played, and enjoyed, Ninja Gaiden Black. I have no problem with hard games. What annoys me is a lack of creativity in these little set pieces.

    3. I was not once killed by a super zombie. They are easy to avoid, but that's the problem. You can't stand and fight if you need to go somewhere as they will keep spawning. This means you have to run, and once you start running they follow you like a demonic train, meaning you can't stop, explore, or have fun. Not without needing to kill all the ones that where following you, and by the time you've done that more have showed up.

    4. Overall I very much enjoyed Dead Rising 2. No game is perfect, and I will take umbrage with issues I feel detracted from the game. That said, Dead Rising 2 is an excellent game with very few flaws- but it still had flaws.

    Evis T says:

    Oh, and like I said above- most of the psychopath fights were very well done. I only disliked a couple of them.

    Kana says:

    Actually, if you don't know (and it seems you don't) Sullivan is very easy, and not invulnerable at all. There's even several strategies to take him out.

    One of them is to throw back his flares and keep shooting at him, he's really a cakewalk, because the rocket hurts him massively.

    The other is to use your hand-to-hand combat manouvers, i suggest tenderizers and defiler. First, you jumpkick him with the tenderizers (they actually add to your hand-to-hand damage, be it with your legs or not), he will be downed to a knee, and then whack him with the defiler for massive damage. Rinse, repeat, and you're done in under 2 minutes.

    The only thing that sparked me to actually comment on this is that you took enough effort to write a heavily flawed guide criticizing Capcom for terrible game design, when there isn't really any to be found :P

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