And that’s not all – we played through the newly revealed Casino level in co-op mode. Chuck can use the game’s walkie-talkie to invite a friend – another Chuck – to join him. It doesn’t get confusing, because Fortune City has a range of clothes shops in which you can get dressed up. So host Chuck might be dressed in baggy streetwear, while guest Chuck might be more informally dressed, as a hybrid of Elvis and Groucho Marx.
Plowing through the zombies is definitely more fun with a friend, and you can help each other take advantage of the environmental bonuses available. Take the massive poker machine, for example – it’s not easy, with the lights and sounds attracting all those dead guys, to have a rewarding game of poker. Take it in turns to fend off the horde, and it becomes a pleasure. We ended up building a pile of burning torches in the Tiki area, and then throwing meat bait into the middle of it all. Sure enough, the zombies came and set themselves on fire.
That’s the kind of emergent playground developers Blue Castle are going for – when they see us trying to put Godzilla masks on each other, they take notes. The masks were meant for the zombies -at the moment, they don’t work on alt-Chuck. If this has been changed in the final version, then we’re proud to have had a bit of input into the game.
All of this sounds a bit too much like raw fun, doesn’t it? Overpowered weaponry, charging around a casino with a friend. But don’t get Blue Castle wrong – they know what made the first game great. So, the 72-hour mode is perfectly intact. You’ll still be following the leads that make up the mystery of what’s going on in Fortune City. You’ll still have survivors to rescue for a huge PP bonus. And there’ll still be the regular psychopaths that form the boss battles throughout.
We played an early battle against... well, that’d be a spoiler. But in co-op mode, it was oddly unchallenging. The decision’s been made not to upscale the enemies in co-op mode like Borderlands does. That makes sense with the zombies, who’re health-corroding weapon fodder. But for climactic moments like this, it’s briefly deflating. Blue Castle admit that they’re aware of this, and reassure us that there arestill six months of balancing before the game is fully finished.
A truly unexpected bonus was the gameshow aspect of Dead Rising 2. It’s incongruous with the claustrophobic way the first game worked. But when you take Dead Rising in the spirit of its film inspiration – a satire of consumer culture – then what could be more fitting? Dead Rising 2’s satire simply swings its “ah, but who are the real zombies” spotlight onto the indignities we’ll heap on ourselves to be rich or famous. That’s why Chuck’s here, after all. No one comes out of this squeaky clean.
The game show itself is pure, cathartic fun. Each show is a selection of games from a larger repertoire, in which your favourites and bugbears may or may not feature. Part of the fun is groaning/cheering when the next game is revealed.
Ramsterballs has four colour-coded Chucks rolling around the arena trying to earn points by rolling over zombies, and banking those points before they get rammed by another player. Pounds of Flesh uses one of the game’s more amusing weapons, the moose-head, and turns it into a Canadian homage – use it to flip zombies onto a scale. You’re marked on weight, so the fattest zombies bring the biggest rewards.