Dead Rising 2

When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth. And, according to Capcom, appear in TV shows.

Years after the first game’s critically acclaimed zombie invasion of the Willamette Mall, the whole of America is infected. In the casino town of Fortune City, Nevada, a deadly TV show plays out to millions of viewers across the nation. ‘Terror Is Reality’ plays a bit like American Gladiators crossed with The Running Man, with a dose of Smash TV thrown in for good measure. Humans are pitted against each other with one objective – kill more undead than your opponents to win fabulous prizes.

Terror Is Realityputs up to four players in a series of varied challenges. ‘Ramsterball’ has the players running around in huge metal spheres. The aim is to kill as many zombies as possible before letting your opponent have a pop; sort of like a messy game of tag. ‘Headache’ equips players with drill-buckets – drop them on undead heads and make zombie juice to score points. ‘Pounds of Flesh’ gives you a helmet fitted with huge moose antlers and tasks you with flipping zombies onto a scale. The heavier the weight of the corpses, the more points you get. Finally, ‘Slicecycles’ lets you loose on vehicles that are part motorbike, part chainsaw. Brutal.

Winning at these games not only results in points but also in-game cash, though Capcom has yet to confirm what use the currency will have in the remainder of the game.

The story mode is just as promising. Playing as tough guy Chuck Greene (a disappointing substitute for the likeable Frank West of the original), who is out to protect his daughter, you find yourself in a large Vegas-style casino, complete with all the modern facilities a committed gambler would expect: slot machines, roulette table, bar, grill and undead horde.

Just as in the original Dead Rising, anything you can heftcan be used as a weapon, but the palate of available items has increased: taking in guns, swords, chairs, roulette wheels, chainsaws, knives, flammable gas canisters, wheelchairs and the paddle-saw (two chainsaws strapped to a canoe paddle). The solo level we played set the challenge of killing 300 zombies within ten minutes – not that hard once you’d found the paddle-saw, which enables the player to wade into the thick of a zombie swarm and go nuts. However, each weapon disappears after a certain number of uses – and you really don’t want to be stuck in a crowd when that happens. Tackling zombies with fists is slow and leaves you open to biting.

Most of the weapons are great fun to use. Breaking a chair over a zombie’s head feels satisfying, while thwacking themon the skull with a roulette wheel is even more so. The sword lets you pull off quick combos with a few taps of the attack button – hold it down and you’ll slice the ghouls neatly down the middle and watch their two halves flop to the floor. The guns aren’t too exciting, but do allow for some long-range violence. We even got our hands on a spectacular, machine-gun-mounted wheelchair.

It’s a great-looking game too, with glass cascading as slot machines catch stray blows and felled zombies exploding in bursts of red. We’ve been told that the final release will feature tens of thousands of zombies (although not all on screen at once). The demo we saw didn’t seem to have many more animated cadavers on-screen than we saw in the first game, which was a little disappointing.

However, Dead Rising 2 still has another year of production ahead so we expect the on-screen corpse count to rise over the next few months along with our keen desire to play it again.

Oct 22, 2009