How Dead Rising 2 embraced the ridiculous to make zombie slaying fun again

Fortune City certainly favours the brave... or, in the case of Chuck Greene, it looks kindly upon a dude who slays zombies with an electric rake while wearing a mankini. Killing the undead in a Borat getup totally counts as bravery, right? Regardless of how you choose to dress the former motocross champ, Capcom’s spin on Las Vegas remains one of PlayStation’s most thrillingly silly sandboxes.

It’s this gleeful sense of stupidity that makes Dead Rising 2 so memorable, even six years on. PS3 was never treated to the Xbox-exclusive original, but in 2010, Capcom wisely invited the PlayStation Nation to its Sin City-inspired zombie bash as the series went multi-platform for the first time.

Capcom throws quite the party, too, squashing the undead in giant hamster balls that look like they’ve been nicked from the set of Gladiators. A crafting system lets you duct tape chainsaws to the wheels of a motorbike, plus you fight a performing tiger among the seedy slots and roulette tables of Fortune City’s endlessly gaudy casinos. The Last Of Us, this is not.

Actually, Dead Rising 2 wasn’t entirely a Capcom creation. Instead, it was outsourced to Blue Castle Games, a Canadian studio that was later bought by the publisher and became Capcom Vancouver. At the time, the team had really only worked on obscure baseball series The Bigs, but with the help of Dead Rising creator (and all-round Mega Man icon) Keiji Inafune, Blue Castle managed to knock one hell of a zombie game out of the park.

The sequel’s biggest success is the fact it sheds so much of the constricting fat that could make the original such an overly fussy pain. Frank West’s shopping mall smash hit may have revelled in the same sense of absurdity, yet it also loved imposing restrictions on your fun at every turn. In contrast, Chuck’s quest gives you extra save slots, provides more time to rescue survivors and generally lets you stop to sniff the decomposing daffies in a way the first game never would.

That’s not to say battling thousands of on-screen zombies isn’t stressful. Keeping Chuck’s delicious braaains intact as you navigate rows of slots or the resort’s glittering strip demands controlled bursts of aggression and deft spatial awareness. If it’s all getting too much, of course, you can simply tape a toy spitball gun to a tiki torch and merrily smoke all those coffin dodgers with a shiny new Fire Spitter. Controlled aggression be damned!

Combo weapons are a constant delight. Provided you don’t mind a little experimentation, Dead Rising 2 showcases a flair for DIY destruction like no other game. Sticky bombs made from lawn darts and dynamite; a plate launcher that propels crockery courtesy of a cement saw; or the byproduct of sticking nails onto a pair of MMA gloves, which births a weapon that makes Freddy Krueger’s knife hands look like cuddly oven mitts... Blue Castle’s crafting is wonderfully demented.

It’s been far too long since a game let us annihilate foes with an uzi-sporting wheelchair. And don’t get us started on how unfair it is that no other title has allowed us to skewer zombs with a swordfish since 2010.

Thankfully, the series’ PlayStation future looks bright again. Capcom has confirmed the upcoming Dead Rising 4’s Xbox exclusivity deal only lasts a year, meaning a PS4 version looks like an undead cert for 2017. You can also enjoy Dead Rising, Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Off The Record now they've all recently made the transition to PS4. Once again, it’s time to prepare for the zombie invasion...

This article originally appeared in Official PlayStation Magazine. For more great PlayStation coverage, you can subscribe here.

Dave Meikleham
Paid maker of words, goes by many names: Meiksy… Macklespammer… Big Hungry Joe. Obsessive fan of Metal Gear Solid, Nathan Drake's digital pecks and Dino Crisis 2. Loves Jurassic Park so much, may burst at any moment.