games / Reviews

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (XBLA) Review

September 2, 2010 | Posted by Trace Aber

Game: Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
Genre: Survival Horror
Players: 1
Developer: Blue Castle, Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Rated M for Mature

The original Dead Rising, released in 2006, told the tale of a freelance photojournalist who ends up in zombie-infested Willamette. Dead Rising 2 takes place five years later, in Las Vegas and with Chuck Greene as our protagonist, stuck in Fortune City. Case Zero, an Xbox 360 exclusive, takes places two years after the first game and features Chuck Greene’s first romp with massive amounts of zombies, as well as his constant struggle to keep his daughter from becoming a zombie. It serves as both a demo and a prologue in an experiment that provides mostly successful results.

Our story begins with Chuck Greene arriving in Still Creek, just a little bit away from Las Vegas. A news report playing over the radio details the ongoing zombie infection and military planes are flying above the small town frequently. Katey Greene, Chuck’s daughter, has become infected and relies on an experimental medication known as Zombrex, which stops the zombification process for a full twelve hours. They stop at the local gas station and while checking things out, an unknown person steals Chuck’s truck and leaves the duo to fend for themselves…and Katey without Zombrex. Now, Chuck must find a way out of Still Creek as well as keep Katey alive. And, as it turns out, you only have twelve hours to get some Zombrex and get the hell out of town.

“No wonder, you’re turning into a zombie. Who wants ice cream!?”

The core gameplay hasn’t changed too much from the original, in the sense that you’re in a large environment filled with zombies and you have a constantly ticking clock. It’s the changes and additions that Blue Castle and Capcom have made that not only make this game stand out on its own, but also produce a much better game than the original. First off, the save system has been improved, and you can now have three separate save files as opposed to the original’s one and done save system.

Despite the town of Still Creek not being terribly large, there are plenty of buildings to enter and places to explore. Along the way you will find a variety of weaponry that ranges from a road cone to a chainsaw to a sniper rifle. Some weapons are designated with a wrench symbol and can be combined with other designated items to create a special weapon, which usually gives you some bonus experience points and a cool cutscene where Chuck actually puts the weapon together. Items can be combined at any one of the workbenches scattered throughout Still Creek, and are marked with bright red doors that are visible from far away. After you create a weapon, a combo card is produced that shows you the bonuses and attacks. The possibilities aren’t endless, but there’s plenty of combinations to keep you interested.

Shotgun Rake + a Dress = Badass

One of the things I hated most about the first game was the gunplay. While you could avoid using them on the regular zombies, most of the bosses required the use of some gun, and the aiming and handling was awful. It has greatly been improved in Case Zero and makes them fun to use, something I never thought I would say about a Dead Rising game. Sure, it’s still all about finding random weapons to re-kill the undead with, but sometimes it’s fun to hop on a rooftop and snipe those bastards down.

One section that was disappointing came towards the end. While I won’t spoil it for you, there is a driving portion that makes you wonder how Chuck Greene ever became a motocross champion. The handling is awful and the only saving grace is that it’s quick. Hopefully this can be improved by the full release, or at the very least there is minimal driving.

The main story isn’t going to take you too long, and can be done in a couple of hours. Even though you have a twelve hour (in-game) time limit, that’s typically more than enough time needed as long as you know what you’re doing. What gives the game replay value is that it features for different endings, meaning that choices you make throughout the game really do matter. Do you even care about getting Katey Zombrex? Don’t want to save those survivors? Want to try to be the hero? The choice is yours, and the ending will reflect that.

There were a few noticeable hiccups if I allowed a lot of zombies to surround me, but nothing that I didn’t forget a few minutes later (and would have completely forgotten about had I not taken notes on it). One thing that I did remember without notes, however, is the game’s long loading times. There are a few points in the game where you have to enter and exit the safehouse frequently and it really takes you out of the experience when you have to wait thirty seconds to kill more zombies.

-Original environment and story
-Weapon combinations are awesome
-Four separate ending really adds to the gameplay value
-Cheap price
-Data carries over into main game

-Rather short game
-Still Creek is pretty small

The 411
Even though this has been called nothing more than a glorified demo, there’s more than enough content to justify spending your five bucks. First off, all of the content you see in Case Zero is original content and will not be in the final game (well, as far as environments are concerned), and the story is also completely original. There’s also the added bonus of your character data carrying over, which includes the combo cards and up to five levels. Some people might not like that the game is timed, but the original Dead Rising was too, so it fits within the context of the series. Plus, you can always just kill zombies during the full time and forget about saving the day. Problem solved.

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Trace Aber
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