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Dead Rising 2 review

AT A GLANCE
  • It's still a tense experience, but now also more forgiving
  • The combo weapon system is hilarious and addictive
  • Mulching zombies never, ever gets dull
  • The boss fights are inexcusable
  • The presentation is a bit last-gen in places
  • One or two auto-saves wouldn't have been uncharitable

Old problems reanimated

But while this is definitely a friendlier and more addictive blend of the Dead Rising formula, a few of the ingredients are starting to smell way out of date. The boss fights – which occur when Chuck stumbles upon a particularly odorous human psychopath during the course of a mission – are a truly unpleasant and completely inexcusable experience. As appropriate to modern video games as children are to modern coal mining practices, they would have been archaic mid-last-generation.

You enter the boss room. A nonsensically damaging character who can barely be scratched rushes right up into your face. You get hit three times in two seconds and die. Hello, last save point.

You repeat, saving a bit closer to the fight this time in order to avoid a minute of potential back-tracking. The same thing happens again.

You repeat. You die a bit faster this time, but manage to get in a good five or six hits first, using what is ordinarily a stupidly powerful weapon. The boss’s health bar barely drops a pixel. By the time your save file re-loads you have developed a very serious case of clinical depression, but that’s okay. You’re now too emotionally numb to feel the sting of defeat the next seven or eight times you try.


Above: Expect to see a lot of this whenever the bosses arrive

We’re not talking about boss fights as we know them now, full of spectacle, drama and skill. These are the attritional trudges of a by-gone age, exercises in smashing your face into a brick wall until the wall falls over, while hoping you’ve brought along enough health packs to last just slightly longer than the brickwork.

And worst of all, most beautifully, incandescently, immaculately obnoxious of all, they’re never flagged up as boss fights until you locate and commit to them. So any seemingly innocent mission (main or optional) can turn out to be a game-ender without warning. Top-level weapons help, but if you don’t know you’re entering a boss fight you probably won’t have any. And depending on the time limit and location, you might not be able to acquire any either.

And don’t think you’re safe once you’ve trained yourself into the mind-set of constant saving. Because at least one of these miserable fixtures is located inside a save point. And kicks in before you can use it. Try to imagine my face when I tried to utilise that save point towards the end of a particularly lengthy escort mission. Actually don’t. If you get even halfway close you’ll be waking up screaming for a month, and frankly I don’t need that shit on my conscience.

Mercifully it’s just niggles aside from that, but niggles which further the impression of DR2 being an aged game given a shiny HD make-over. One or two story missions containing hard or lengthy set-pieces have no internal save opportunities, and the creaky dearth of spoken dialogue in favour of plentiful written text is both dated and a logistical bugger to work with. Try reading six paragraphs of dialogue to find out what a survivor wants while fighting off the approaching zombie hoard in real-time. It’s fun. And that was sarcasm.

I totally understand Capcom’s rationale for the way Dead Rising 2 operates. And when it works – which is most of the time – the sense of surviving by your own wits, self-discipline and ingenuity is deeply satisfying. And given that you can restart the whole game at any stage with your current levelling intact, this is clearly a game intended to be completed via multiple play-throughs. And I’m into that. But come on guys, there’s a time to rein it in. And that time is at exactly the point it stops being fun. There’s crazy, imaginative fun in abundance, and those stops are infrequent, but when they happen, they’re miserable.


Is it better than… ?

Dead Rising? Yes. While DR2 isn't a vast evolution given the four year gap between games, it is a noticeably more satisfying package. The addictive hilarity of finding and creating the combo weapons is a massive bonus, as is the way the softened save system (largely) lets you enjoy the game free of restart-terror.

 


Resident Evil 5 ? No. Both games are ambitious Capcom gorefests marred by difficulty spikes and crap boss fights, and neither is a huge advancement over its predecessor, but RE5 is just a slicker and more polished game. Though it doesn't have half of Dead Rising 2's personality.

 

Left 4 Dead 2 ? No. They're both very different takes on a zombie apocalypse, naturally, and both fill holes the other one can't, but Valve's tight, tactical, team-based dismemberment has more exhilarating and tightly-balanced meat on its bones. Of course, if you prefer a free-form playground take on the undead plague, Dead Rising 2 is the way to go.

 

 

Just for you, Metacritic!

While not a huge departure from the original Dead Rising template, Dead Rising 2’s concession to friendlier game-saves and excellent addition of a creative and funny weapon-crafting system make it a rewarding and gleefully entertaining experience. But alas, the corpse-killing hijinks are noticeably marred by some inexcusable hark-backs to archaic game design. A lot of fun then, but with some definite frustrations.

More Info

Available Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Blue Castle Games
Franchise: Dead Rising
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

46 comments

  • Crypto140 - October 5, 2010 8:20 p.m.

    I had hopes for this game, and it crashed them all! To anybody reading this, do not buy it! They bragged about the combo weapons, but that is a bitch to find the parts, and make them. And then it kills on 50 zomibes. It breaks after 50 zombies, just get a wrench or a crowbar, it will save you time. And the story is just so stupid. A) If there are still zombies, how did a game show get them? And B) why are they still around? Why doesn't the military do something? And you have to pay money for some stuff, with people you kill in the begining. There are so many plot holes, like in Case 0, why is there a zombie outbreak when they are undercontrol enough to put them on a game show! It sucks, don't buy it/download it/rent it from a friend, there is probably a reason why your friend in letting you borrow it. Just don't get it, or you can blow me off and waste a few bucks and hours of your life! It's you choice! You see those hot chicks on the cover, thats the best part of the game. Like Bayonetta, is swayed so votes.}:(
  • zombiekiller13 - September 27, 2010 2:55 p.m.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa...is that a walkie-talkie in one of the screenshots? I did not see any mention of this in the review. I am now having flashbacks of Otis...
  • Defguru7777 - September 26, 2010 8:58 p.m.

    I can't wait for this! But I'm gonna wait to get it after I get Case Zero.
  • RazorRaptor9 - September 26, 2010 7:39 a.m.

    I pre-ordered this as soon as I finished the demo of Case:Zero and with my childish mind, I don't think I'll get bored easily
  • RoflSick - September 26, 2010 3:50 a.m.

    I cant wait to spill some sweet zombie blood!!!
  • Agrilid - September 25, 2010 5:35 p.m.

    Hmm, forget multiplayer on our "Super Review" did we ?
  • DecoyOctorok - September 25, 2010 5:04 p.m.

    Has the AI of the survivors been improved? The first Dead Rising had the most frustrating, throw your controller at the wall escort missions that I've ever encountered in a game.
  • philipshaw - September 25, 2010 12:32 p.m.

    Great review and seems a fair score from the couple of hours I played of it last night. Need more time before I can form my full opinion on it though
  • Jamahl - September 25, 2010 12:24 a.m.

    As good as Halo Reach then? (I kid, I kid. : P)
  • AlSwearengenHatesCocksuckers - September 24, 2010 8:34 p.m.

    @GamesRadarEricBratcher Fuck that little photo taking prick. I killed that cocksucker every single play through after the first time I did his missions and got the achievement I needed.
  • Clovin64 - September 24, 2010 7:31 p.m.

    Hmmmm...I'm tempted to buy it, but the point about the boss battles worries me. I'm a very sore loser, and if I keep getting my ass kicked and get sent back to a previous save point repeatadly, I will probably curl up into a little ball on the floor and cry that I'm shit at games. Is the rest of the game good enough to justify buying this despite the boss battles?
  • rickrossthaboss - September 24, 2010 6:18 p.m.

    Yea, I wasn't impressed with Case Zero, definitely not gonna get this as Fifa 11 comes out the same day and I still have Reach multiplayer. Not really a fan of Dead Rising, though I love L4D.
  • Crypto140 - September 24, 2010 5:59 p.m.

    And I can't belive I am not the only one complaining about the game. I thought for sure everyone would have said that it was a 10/10 game(not that I have played it yet). Yay, I'm not alone.
  • Crypto140 - September 24, 2010 5:55 p.m.

    So nothing on the weapon parts are a bitch to find? I thought that would be a let down. But I knew the boss fights would suck ass. This isn't the kind of game to be messing around with quick reacting humans as bosses. And why do you have to carry more guns insted of just the ammo? But I am still renting it, I need a game to fill in the gap between Fallout New Vegas.
  • CAPST3R - September 24, 2010 3:18 p.m.

    I've had this game since Monday, and this review doesn't do the game justice. If the boss fights were too hard, you were obviously using the wrong weapon (try and good melee weapon, and it'll do wonders). The save points are alright, you just need to get used to surviving. And while the graphics may not be up to the par of, say, Uncharted 2, they do their job rather well. Also, you didn't mention TIR, co-op, costumes (where a flaw does lie), shops, or the remarkably good mission-guide-arrow-thingy.
  • OnyxOblivion - September 24, 2010 11:44 a.m.

    Fuck it. Passing after I read about the Boss Fights.
  • Rhymenocerous - September 24, 2010 9:47 a.m.

    QUESTION: Can you crouch in this game? I remember trying to fight a shotgun-toting lunatic in the last game, trapped in a shop with counters and everything, but you couldn't feckin BEND DOWN.
  • AGENTJORRRG - September 24, 2010 4:59 a.m.

    Its just as good as reach!
  • publicanemone - September 24, 2010 4:56 a.m.

    Oh my god. The 3 day time limit is back!? Pass.
  • ElGrinchoid - September 24, 2010 4:32 a.m.

    I played this for a while today. I've got to say, if you enjoyed the first one, you'll love this, but to me it felt just like the first. Bland and emotionless, it's not even funny. The opening in the gameshow is weak beyond belief and after an hour i turned it off. More of the same, and just like the first one I reached maximum boredom after an hour. Oh and it looks like shite as well. For a new release on the "next gen's" it really doesn't look much better than a ps2 or xbox game to me. Honestly, i wouldn't give it more than a 3 out of 10. I've had more fun watching paint dry.

Showing 1-20 of 46 comments

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