Dead Rising 2: Case Zero DLC review

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is a bit of DLC oddity: it’s available now, but the full game isn’t out yet. It’s also not really a demo, since you have to pay for it, it takes place in a completely separate place from the full game, and you can carry over your character’s level to the main game. It’s a pretty fun appetizer for the “real“ Dead Rising 2, but our experience was hampered by some horrendously annoying flaws. That said, we can’t know if these flaws will be a part of the full game, since they were specific to the missions, and not inherent gameplay flaws.

Above: We love the visual details that tell a story. In this case, you can imagine how many zombies Chuck's run down in his truck

Case Zero starts off some time after the original Dead Rising, but also a while before part two, with Chuck Greene driving through the Nevada Desert in his pickup with his young and (typical of videogame kids) extremely whiny and annoying daughter. We’ll tell you now: if we have to deal with her complaining ass all through the main game, we’ll be looking for an option to feed her to the zombies. Anyway, she’s still an innocent kid, and being the spawn of Chuck’s loins, a sympathetic character by default. You can’t really blame the kid for complaining when she’s in the middle of an apocalypse and has been infected by a zombie bite, can you?

Due to her infection, Case Zero puts you up against two tension-ratcheting timers: she’ll need one dose of Zombrex before the end of the DLC, and you have to get out of town before the military arrives to take you away to some plastic tent to be sanitized. And no, we don’t think they’ll be cleaning you.

Zombrex must be administered every twelve hours to the infected to prevent zombification, so you have that to worry about. In the opening cutscene, Chuck actually already has several doses, but then someone steals his truck at the Still Creek gas station, which means he’s lost the meds as well as his ride. So leaving town isn’t a simple matter: the place is essentially deserted, full of zombies, and in the middle of nowhere. So your other main objective is to scavenge up parts of a motorcycle so you can put the bike together and ride out of there before the army arrives.

Above: You'll face off against some intimidating hordes, but the zombies themselves aren't much of a threat

Just as in the original Dead Rising, your chances of succeeding in your tasks on the first try are low. You’ll almost certainly have to start over from the beginning, or possibly an early save file (but then you lose level progress). Since the game is only a couple of hours long, starting over isn’t a big deal. Still, for some players (like us) it’s not very fun to replay the beginning part of the story again when there are no surprises.

There also isn’t a whole lot that makes Case Zero feel like an evolution of the original game. We didn’t see any special zombies other than them wearing different outfits. We didn’t get to see any new special moves since your character’s level is capped and nothing noteworthy is unlocked in those first few levels. The one main feature that’s new is the ability to combine weapons. It’s possible some players will get a real kick out of experimenting with all the combinations, but we kept feeling the pressure of time passing quickly and our need to find the bike parts was too much to worry about what weapons we could make – and regardless, most of the weapons in Case Zero can’t be combined anyways. If you were dreaming of combining every weapon you find, get ready to wake up: only a small portion of weapons can be combined with anything. At least, that’s what we saw. It also may be a case of the devs not wanting to give you too much to play with in the DLC, so you’ll want to buy the full game to really play around.

Above: There aren't many really cool combo weapons to play with, but the one's that are cool, are really damn cool

Killing zombies in various ways is as satisfying as ever, and the best weapon in the DLC isn’t even a combined one – let’s just say you should play with the broadsword a while, and we’ll leave it at that. Of course there are survivors to rescue, and thankfully they appear to be way, way less annoying to escort now. We’d say that 90% of the time, we were able to just run toward our destination without even having to check back to see if our companions were okay. They juked, shoved, and brained zombies capably on their own. Only a couple of times did they get surrounded and stuck, which really is just about right – after all, if they were invincible, there wouldn’t be any tension in rescuing them.

Each rescue mission has a cool twist to it and reveals each survivor’s personality, and with the annoyances taken away, they make for fun diversions. Exploring Still Creek is also engrossing despite the town’s small size. There are quite a few weapons to experiment with (plus a handful of great combinations if you know where to look), and the locations reveal interesting obstacles to clamber over and navigate through, and of course funny “occupations” for the zombies. In the mini-casino, zombies are totally hypnotized by the slot machines, while near the police station, uniformed zombies shuffle about carrying night sticks or pistols uselessly. For the cheap price (400 points or $5), you get a lot of game to play with. We didn’t feel like we’d really seen everything until after at least six hours of play.

Now we get to our biggest gripes about Case Zero. From what we’ve seen there’s been no big improvement in the save system. It does auto-save for you, but only at specific points that can actually be spaced out by an hour or more depending on how you play. We got complacent after seeing frequent auto saves early in the game and so forgot to manually save for a while. Then the game killed us for dropping off a three foot ledge (thanks?) and we discovered we’d lost well over an hour of progress. Our choice was to lose that hour and load the last save, or start over and keep our levels but lose the story progress. So bee warned: save manually often. Granted, it was our fault for not saving, but the game made us believe that auto saves would be frequent when they’re actually really spread out during random segments.

Above: Most of the game takes place in the day, which doesn't make for a creepy setting. Luckily, night falls later on, increasing the sense of urgency for your escape

Our biggest problem with Case Zero, and it’s a big one, is that it’s possible for the story to be literally impossible to complete, either through a bug or a loophole in the design. See, while almost all of the bike parts can be found at any time, one of them only appears in the world after (we think) specific conditions are met, but here’s the important part: those conditions are arbitrary. It might have been a bug, but it’s hard to tell. What happens is this (so we can try to save you some pain): the bike part is in the possession of two biker dudes, but they only spawn into the world if you exit and enter your safehouse a certain number of times and then go talk to a different survivor who’s standing on a roof (again, we think). These nebulous conditions that are never told to you can mean that there’s no way for you to succeed in your mission, and this actually increases in probability as you get better at the game because you don’t have to visit the safehouse as much. That’s a damn obnoxious thing to face in a game.

We also must mention that the load times were ludicrous - but we were running of a disc with no ability to install to the hard drive, so since the DLC version will be directly on your hard drive, we're guessing the load times will be better - we hope so, because we were getting up from the couch to do other things while the game loaded, and this happened often.

So, Case Zero has hiccups in its ability to entertain you that feel like leftovers from the original game, but it also has some awesome weapons to play with and a good deal of that Dead Rising humor and charm you can’t get anywhere else. If you’re not bothered by replaying from the beginning a few times, then the main flaws won’t be too big a deal. And finally, if you loved the original and are restless to play the sequel, Case Zero will probably satisfy, as long as you don’t raise your expectations too much, and don’t assume it’s representative of the upcoming full game.

Aug 31, 2010

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  • XxRobonxHoodxX - September 9, 2010 10:01 p.m.

    Overall I'd Put This At a 9/10, the Save Systems Do Suck Though, and For $5 what do you expect?
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - September 7, 2010 6:50 p.m.

    The time that the bikers didn't spawn, I gathered all the bike parts well before 3pm, and talked to the guy on the roof repeatedly throughout the rest of the day. He just kept talking about the girls in the bowling alley. The bikers never spawned. I'm sure of this because I know exactly where they are supposed to be.
  • NLH13 - September 7, 2010 4:35 a.m.

    I love Dead Rising! This one looks like it is going to be just as good! I'm glad you can't save it all the time. It make it more intense knowing you will lose a lot of your progress if you die. (Imagine a PacMan where you could save at anytime...) That glitch does sound annoying but I've played through thrice without any problems.
  • InakedbaconI - September 4, 2010 10:32 a.m.

    Don't comment on games you don't like. Why even waste time on looking at the review if you hated the first game? I liked the first one and I loved this Prologue DLC. There are a lot of new features.. like the fact that you can get guns in abundance :D the game has sped up a bit and the combo weapons are crazy inventive. there are only 9 of them in the dlc that means the game will have tons of them. This game may make impossible win situations but that's not the point. If you were better at the game you wouldn't get into one. I played through the DLC .. saved most of the survivors and killed the Mechanic and escaped recieveing an "A" first try.. Then I played through one more time to get the other achievements. no i'm playing through again fro the 1000 kills achievement.
  • deadrisingizbeast - September 3, 2010 2:06 a.m.

    oh and also for the time limit who cares makes the game more fun and better whoever hates deadrising is most likely a halo fag DEADRISING 2 4 GAME OF THE YEAR IF NOT THEN GEARS OF WAR 3 if halo wins then the people who voted for halo are gay
  • deadrisingizbeast - September 3, 2010 2:01 a.m.

    ok this idoit who wrote this is probbaly some halo nerd who says all games suck except for halo.Deadrising is one of the best games by far 4 xbox right next to gears 2 now this fag needs to go back to his crappy halo games that he loves so very much and haved sucked since halo 2. And what the hell is arbitary,impossible win condition wow must have had never beaten a damn video game on the hardest diffculty.This guy is an idoit ''There not alot of new fetures'' Look at look at halo for no new fetures for reach all there is are forge world another crappy campaign and a few new weapons wow what a game deadrising has so many damn new fetures.combo weapons,new and fantastic story,money system,The pawn shop,new characters,More outrages weapons Why not buy this game i would buy just case zero for more money than any halo games halo sucks plain and simple first person games are going down hill probbaly not with $ but with quailty and for 5 bucks why not buy this game f the writer of the review screw him
  • Ddz53 - September 2, 2010 2:35 a.m.

    Definitely worth it! Only 5 bucks and a whole lot of fun! And seriously, I didn't have any problems doing the missions, and the guys with the handlebars spawned right after I had collected every other piece of the bike and talked to that other guy on the rooftop. However, the time limit is annoying and if you wanna run around and discover a little on your first try, you'll probably have to reload a couple of times so that you know exactly where the bike parts are in order to finish in time.
  • MrTwinbee - September 1, 2010 3:33 p.m.

    One of the best pieces of DLC I have ever played. Made me want the main game so much, and was fun in its own right. Dead Rising games are meant to be replayed. You are not meant to do everything in one sitting. Got all 200 Gamerpoints out of it while knowing that all the PP, Combo Cards and cash will be carried over into the main game. And the "idiotic design decisions" are not idiotic at all, the guys who have the handle bars for the bike appear after 3PM as long as you initiate a cut scene or go into your safe room after that time, which you will if your trying to get the parts back there in time. Going back to the combo weapons, if you look at the dev videos you can see that loads of things can be combined, but they included 8 in Case Zero. Some of them are hard to get by making them yourself, such as the Beer Hat, Paddle Saw and Electric Rake because some of the items required appear in only one place. But the Moose Head, Broadsword and Pitchfork Shotgun are enough for pure zombie clearing carnage. Although the Air Horn (Traffic Cone/Pylon + Paint Spray) is pretty useless but well funny, and the Beer Hat (Hardhat + Beer) is useful in small doses, dont lung on it too much while being harrased by an army of undead, because Chuck loves to live up to his name and chuck his guts up! If you got 400 points spare, love Dead Rising or just zombie killing in general, this is a must.
  • elpurplemonkey - September 1, 2010 8:08 a.m.

    Great review. I haven't played this, but I did play the first and I get the impression very little has changed. I still don't understand the time limit and how you are forced to start over numerous times to actually have a chance at beating the story though. I hated that in the first and the fact that both of those things are still in part 2 will stop me from buying it. It's a shame really, since what's there is fun. But I can't get over the two idiotic design decisions I mentioned (no it doesn't increase the tension, it's arbitrary and stupid.)
  • NathanXplosion - September 1, 2010 6:54 a.m.

    Having fun with this, can't wait till DR2 comes out.
  • AGENTJORRRG - September 1, 2010 3:21 a.m.

    A 7/10 game for $5? Hells yes!
  • GayforGilbert - September 1, 2010 2:14 a.m.

    The bikers appear at 3pm, on the nose. It's not that difficult to get a hold of the part.
  • Mirako - September 1, 2010 2:05 a.m.

    Fun, but they are right about the whole bike part thing. I managed to get like 4 survivors the zombrex and had 4/5 parts. I searched for an entire in game hour! couldn't find it, D ending. I'm gonna try again but it's still stupid.
  • batman5273 - September 1, 2010 1:53 a.m.

    Just downloaded it and completed my first playthrough. It was fun, but way too many loading screens. I think it was worth 5 bucks and it will be an easy 200 achievements points.
  • Defguru7777 - September 1, 2010 12:39 a.m.

    I love Dead Rising. The only thing keeping me from getting this is the fact that I don't have any hard drive space.
  • LordGremlin - August 31, 2010 9:42 p.m.

    So, this game is a sequel to 360 exclusive, which now comes to PS3 and PC... And they releasing a demo on 360 only... Makes little sense. Hm, and time limit sounds worrying. Does this mean that in full game you may be forced to replay 60-70 hours?
  • Slayer11496 - August 31, 2010 8:04 p.m.

    there are many additions not included in case zero. Simply, I absolutely love the DLC idea of case zero.And any one who is a fan of good games should buy it.ONLY FIVE DOLLARS!!!!
  • CoryRX8 - August 31, 2010 5:13 p.m.

    I really don't understand why Microsoft keeps paying for exclusive DLC like this. By all rights it looks like a fun little demo/DLC/thing, but how many consoles is having the exclusive on this one DLC going to push out the door? I wish they would actually fund some original development instead of blowing money on exclusive DLC. Make your own exclusives, don't buy them.
  • YuGiOhisbetterthanMagic - August 31, 2010 4:46 p.m.

    im downloading this as i write this comment, if theres one thing i love, its dead rising, witch, in my HIGHLY OPINIONATED OPINION is one of, if not, the best Zombie game ever.
  • Onepersonwithnoopinion - August 31, 2010 4:33 p.m.

    It seems like you guys really like the number 7 on this site. Let's put this into perspective: You don't get this, you don't get a boomstick.