Hands on with Dead Rising 2

If you’ve played the first Dead Rising game, then you’ll know that it’s a game that rewards patience. It was brilliant – the first game to capture the shambling, satirical terror of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. But the first time you play it, you’re a plodding, underpowered everyman, who can barely bat off the pesky zombies that lunge relentlessly for his arteries.

That’s because Dead Rising did things differently – it was a short game that you weren’t supposed to complete and put back on the shelf. Dead Rising wanted you to perfect it. So, unless you were impossibly lucky, you wouldn’t have got anything like a good ending on your first run through. But every scrap of progress you made was stored, making you stronger. And every time you ran through that food court, you’d be a little bit more efficient, learning what the best food was, where the best weapons were, and exactly what you could get away with when running through a crowd of vicious zombies.

We went to the Vancouver offices of Blue Castle Games to play the sequel: the new elements of the story mode (including the first explicit reassurances that there would actually BE a story mode), the hush-hush co-op mode, and the fast-paced four-player minigame fun that is Terror Is Reality. We also experienced more of the weapons that make the second game unique – combo cards that let you know which weapons can be combined in the workshops, to produce comical and powerful super-weapons. There were a number of questions nagging in our minds...

Would Dead Rising 2 stay true to the intense, stressful terror of the first game? Would all those brilliantly ridiculous weapons ruin the tension? Is the new hero, Chuck Greene, going to be more fun than old grunty-chops, Frank West? And the question that everyone in forums across the world has been asking – have you sorted out the saving system?

First up, let’s talk about Chuck. He’s a family man, who’s brought his family to Fortune City to take part in the Terror Is Reality gameshow. Humanity, you see, hasn’t reacted with much class to the zombie menace – a game show based around the ritual humiliation and slaughter of the zombies has become insanely popular. Chuck’s a gifted motorcyclist, and the game show’s finale, Slicecycles, involves riding a bike with chainsaws strapped to the frame through crowds of thousands of zombies. Yes, it’s disgusting. And yes, you will be able to play it – but more on that later.

The old hero, Frank, was a photographer. However, Chuck’s a handyman. He’s a dab hand with the gaffer tape, and can combine fairly innocent looking items to lethal (and comical) effect. We managed to combine a teddy bear with a light machine gun, to fashion an unlikely turret. Put a fire extinguisher onto a water pistol and you’ve got a fairly harmless snowball gun. Add a fuel can, though, and you’ve got a fairly lethal flamethrower to play with.

You can’t combine everything, of course – weapons with a wrench icon indicate that they have some higher purpose. And not every combo-weapon makes sense, either. A box of nails and a wheelchair won’t win you any victims. But a box of nails and a baseball bat – well, that’ll buy you a quick path through a small crown of zombies. And wire up a battery to that wheelchair, and you’ve suddenly got yourself a portable execution machine.

This is Frank’s specialty, so it’s how he gets stronger. Dead Rising’s experience system is Prestige Points. Where photographer Frank earned his bonus PP from taking dramatic, sexy, or funny pictures, Frank earns this from dispatching zombies in cruel and unusual ways. The more PP he earns, the more weapons he can carry, the more HP he gets, the faster he runs, and the more special moves he picks up.

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  • CAPST3R - June 19, 2010 10:52 p.m.

    I don't have a 360, so I never got a chance to get into the original, but I have to say, when I played it on my nephew's 360, it really was great. Something about cutting down a crowd of zombies with a mini-uzi, y'know? I hope that there's only 1 place to get guns, but the stock reappears after a while. Also, a 1-hit-killer pistol/sniper (DE/DSR-1 preferably) would be good.
  • Nyterage - May 4, 2010 5:32 p.m.

    Mexiflan- on a HDTV they are supposed to become readable. |3 i have to say this is one game i am really looking forward to, i am a serious zombie fanatic and would just love to muck around in that game forever forsaking the story just for that unbridled joy of killing them all |D So glad it is coming out for the PS3 as well ^_^ now i don't have to groan that i don't have the money to buy a 360
  • Mexiflan - April 29, 2010 10:46 p.m.

    Did they fixed the super-fucking small subtitles?
  • Samael - April 29, 2010 6:43 a.m.

    "You’ll still have survivors to rescue for a huge PP bonus" Great. They better not be dumb as fuck again, or this will definitely be a rental. But if they can fix that,'ll be as awesome as it sounds. Always despised the save system, so thank Cthulhu that's fixed. Time limit still sucks though. Hopefully that'll be gone or have an optional free-play/go crazy mode in 3, if they make it.
  • NinjaPopsicle - April 29, 2010 6:19 a.m.

    Also, I have to agree with the comments above me, I had no problems with the save system either. In fact, I thought it was a great idea to have designated safe areas where you could save, it added to the tension of the game. That plus the single save slot kinda forced you to plan ahead a little bit, rather than reloading old saves until you can do it perfectly. I think the main problem occurred from the poor wording of the "Save and Quit" option.
  • NinjaPopsicle - April 29, 2010 6:10 a.m.

    Sounds great, the first Dead Rising was the game that made me finally want a 360, but there is one thing I haven't seen addressed anywhere: What about voice-overs? The first game featured an extremely small amount of voice work outside of cutscenes, and was one of the things that made Otis more infuriating for me. I really I don't think I would have mined Otis' calls so much if I could have just listened to him talk while I run around, instead of focusing attention between trying to read the small text while also trying to keep from being eaten alive.
  • sed598 - April 29, 2010 2:21 a.m.

    i honestly cant wait for this too come out. Already got it pre-ordered and paid in full!!!! I agree with everyone else too the save system wasnt that bad. Like in the article and PS360Rulezs comment it added to the survival aspect of the game
  • PS360Rulez - April 29, 2010 1:39 a.m.

    I actually liked the save system in the first game. Also that you could only save in "safe zones". It added to the survival aspect. In my opinion other than a few more weapons and optional co-op the original games was near perfect. I have probably beaten it a dozen times since it was released. I hope they dont make this one too easy.
  • NLH13 - April 28, 2010 11:48 p.m.

    I really never had a problem with the save mode either... Otis and his walkie talkie were annoying though. I hope it still has survival mode. I loved that mode! Even better if it is co-op.
  • TomMishkin - April 28, 2010 10:07 p.m.

    Neither did I, Mister. I honestly think Dead Rising was one of the best games of the current generation, its flaws notwithstanding (first and foremost, the dumb AI - and no, I ain't talking about the zombies). I bought it 'cause it had zombies in it and I like me some zombies more than anything else in the world (well, OK, apart from p***y and weed), and I found a surprisingly deep, rewarding, challenging, unsettling, entertaining games I ever put my hands on. A game you could put on and gather your friends around just to look at and never lose their attention for a second. I game I played through and through until I got every ending, saved every survivor, tried every weapon and explored every corner of Willamette Mall - and I'm usually the polar opposite of an achievement whore. To read that DR2 is going to be like DR, just "MORE", is heart-warming. I'm expecting dozens of hours of pure, raw, bloody fun AND a nice storyline to follow, with cheesy, campy mysteries to reveal and an overall B-movie feeling that is oh so hard to find in today's games. Dead Rising was like a nice horror movie to me: fun and involving, with lots of gore and a bit of brains (... metaphorically speaking!) scattered here and there. If Dead Rising 2 really turns out to be kinda like Dead Rising 2.0 I think I found my next addiction.
  • MisterAdequate - April 28, 2010 9:07 p.m.

    I am heartened by everything I read, but I continue to be perplexed by the complaints about the save system. I never once had a problem with it.
  • WickedSid - April 28, 2010 9:04 p.m.

    Otis + Walkie = Annoying, Dead Rising + Kill Bill Suit(?) = Awesome Looks like a great game with ingenuity, thought and hopefully an equal to, or greater than, story.