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Dead Rising 2

What happens if you put fireworks in the mouth of a zombie? Or how about combining wheel chair with a couple of guns? Bengt researched this and much more in Fortune City.

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I have to admit I'm a bit of a procrastinator. A time optimist. I leave things to the last minute and hope it will sort itself in the end. In real life I get away with it, in Dead Rising 2 I get the following message.

"The truth has vanished."

I can continue playing and level up my Chuck in Fortune City, but in order to progress the story and find out the truth about the zombie outbreak I need get to certain places in a timely fashion. I give it another go. In Dead Rising 2 you better be prepared to try, and try again. It's unforgiving, yet that's part of its charm. If you haven't remember to save and you run into a psychopath unprepared you will have to replay any unsaved progress.

My experience with the first Dead Rising was one of frustration. And I'm happy to find Dead Rising 2 is far less frustrating. The game opens up and gives you sandbox full of opportunities, while it retains the harsh realities that made the original game special. Keeping appointments and remembering to go to the bathroom (to save your progress), may not sound like much fun, but there are thousands of zombies to kill in between your chores.

Sometimes it is limitations that grant you freedom, and in the case of Dead Rising 2 it is the fact that you have do certain things that allows you to experiment with things and after a while it feels completely natural. Stock up on food, and make sure you have a few really good weapons on you at all times and you will be able to survive the horrors Fortune City throws at you. And it's not just zombies, the human survivors or psychopaths are far worse. Whether it's a chainsaw wielding serial wife killer or a former admirer who jumps out of toilet booths, they are a bit of colour to the otherwise pale and lifeless cast of enemy characters.

Dead Rising 2 isn't a great shooter. In fact the shooting mechanics are pretty weak, and the mercs you face are awful. Shoots will find you through walls and objects and they will stand firm in one place until you shoot them a few times and then they'll jump a few feet to their left or right. Luckily this is only a very minor part of the game, so it's easy to overlook.

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I would be lying if I said Dead Rising 2 had a great story and narrative, but then again it's not meant to. It's meant to have a slight pornographic b-movie feel to it, and it pulls this off perfectly. The cut scenes are even more delightful if you dress the main character Chuck Greene in some of the more outrageous outfits you can find in the shops of Fortune City.

Dead Rising 2 feels more polished than Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, but there are still some technical annoyances, and I'm not a fan of zombie clone clusters (three zombies who look the same hanging out together). Fortune City is a sizeable playground, yet all areas are easy and quick to access once you have gotten a hang of the basic layout of the city. There are numerous bathrooms (for saving) and maintenance rooms (where you combine objects into more powerful weapons) all over the place, not to food and money. Pawn shops operated by looters will also provide you with great weapons and zombrex that you need in order to keep your daughter Katey from turning into a zombie. Experimenting with weapon combinations and finding out new ways to slaughter zombies is perhaps the biggest draw of the game, and if you are just looking for a bit of fun you can always dedicate a save file to just messing about. And this is even more fun if you invite a friend. Unfortunately co-operative play is only available online.

Chuck Greene found himself in Fortune City participating in Terror is Reality, a game show where contestants slay zombies on TV for cash. Cash he sorely needs in order to keep a steady supply of zombrex for his daughter Katey. Terror is Reality is also the name of the multiplayer mode where up to four players can partake in different American Gladiator-esque events involving zombies. It's casual entertainment, but I don't think I will spend much time in the arena. It's a nice little addition to the game that fits well into the story, but I just didn't feel the mini games offered much substance.

I'm impressed by the work Blue Castle Games and Capcom have done together. It really does feel like a Japanese production, and a great follow up to the first game. The tone, atmosphere and characters aren't something you would normally find in a western game. Capcom know their way around zombie games after all.

Dead Rising 2 is really one of those games that will divide gamers into two camps. On the one hand there are those who absolutely love the premiss, and will replay the game over and over again, finding new weapon combinations and killing all the psychopaths saving as many people as possibile, perhaps even going for some of the more lofty zombie kill achievements/trophies. On the other hand some people will not stomach things like the lack of checkpoints, having to level up your character and replaying the campaign, shoddy gun play, and the technical shortcomings. I can't turn a blind eye to some of these things, and at times Dead Rising 2 has had me frustrated, yet it's a game that I know I will return to many times, and one that keeps me entertained. It's something a little different, and something that zombie lovers will undoubtedly enjoy. It's a smorgasbord of the dead and I'm having seconds...

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08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
Lots of zombies to kill, lots of ways to kill zombies, great b-movie atmosphere, wonderful location, weapon combos and character progression are well executed, co-operative mode.
Mediocre gun play, technical glitches, at times frustrating.
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