Dead Rising 2: review

  • Format: Xbox 360 (version reviewed), PS3, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Capcom Games
  • Developer: Blue Castle
  • Players: 1-4
  • Site:

The world of Dead Rising owes a lot to Rockstar Games. Its sandbox-like play area where a player can wander anywhere they want to, and cherry picking missions handed down via mobile phone, smacks of Grand Theft Auto. But it also pays dues to Rockstar’s State Of Emergency. In State Of Emergency you ran around a shopping mall, fighting off hordes of enemy gangsters until your time ran out or you got your ass whooped. In Dead Rising 2 you run around a huge shopping mall complex, mashing zombies to a pulp until the time runs out or you get eaten. In State Of Emergency you could use just about anything that came to hand to murder opponents. In Dead Rising 2, much like the original, you can use just about everything you see to send the undead packing through the gates of Hell.

You can imagine the two-second pitch for Dead Rising: GTA with zombies! It’s the kind of thing an eager developer blurts out at total strangers on the street with the hope that one of them might be a publisher with a hard-on for putrid flesh and sandbox games.

If all this reads like we’re lining Dead Rising 2 up for a kicking, you’re missing the point. The point is: GTA with zombies! It’s a point that’s so exciting it has to have a ! right there on the end of it. GTA with zombies! See?

While DR: Case Zero introduced the star of this show, Chuck Greene – motocross champ, widow and father of creepy looking Katey – Dead Rising 2 gets onto the meat and potatoes of the story. Chuck and his daughter have holed up in Fortune City, a Thunderdome for turn of the century America. It’s got every convenience and entertainment a citizen could ask for, but outside those city walls are the badlands, where nobody wants to go. It’s Las Vegas in a shopping mall shape. Only in this Vegas the entertainment comes in the form of TIR – Terror Is Reality. The basic format is four guys, decked out in motorbike racing leathers, slaughtering zombies. The winner is the one who slaughters the most. And this is where you come in. The first thing you do as Chuck is sit astride a chainsaw clad superbike and chop zombies in half – which has to be one of the most fun ways to start playing a video game since ever. That’s the last taste you get of TIR in the main game, its sadistic pleasures are then sidelined to the online multiplayer leagues. Moments after your match, the zombies are through the perimeter fences and into the city, and they’ve come in their thousands. And from here onward the game world opens up like a hammer smashed face.

Framed on TV as the man who let the zombies in, you’ve got three days to prove your innocence before the army arrives and saves everyone except, presumably, you. And that’s the main theme of the plot. Leave the safety of the zombie shelter you’re hiding out in and follow the clues until you find out what’s really going on. On top of that, you need to get your daughter, a victim of zombie bite, enough Zombrex, at exactly the right time of day, to keep her from turning. And aside from all this the save a victim/fight a psycho side-missions return from DR1.

Essentially, DR2 is DR1 with some of the player gripes addressed. First time round, the lack of more than one save slot made retracing your steps impossible. So now there’s two more.

Another gripe was the lack of co-op play. With Dead Rising 2, Blue Castle added a co-op mode where you can drop into another player’s solo game and help them out, or vice versa, the visitor retaining whatever points, money or combo cards they pick up. Which, for all players more interested in the joys of zombie killing above all else, is a welcome addition. Not for you the nagging clock counting down the minutes till the army shows up. Not for you the constant need to find Zombrex. Not for you the problem of investigating the case. All you have to do is run amok, finding new and inventive ways to bash the dead about.

They’ve ramped up plenty of aspects over the first version; thousands more zombies, a nice selection of aimable guns (how much do you want to snipe zombies from the top of a tree?), and way more objects in the game world that can be picked up and jabbed into guts. More importantly, Dead Rising 2 has bags of personality.

You see, with all that the plot and the side missions offer, the real pleasure in Dead Rising 2 is the mucking about. If you avoid doing absolutely anything you’re prompted to do and focus entirely on kicking ass, you’re going to have a whale of a time. Killing zombies and going all A-Team on the weaponry is a delicious way to waste entire evenings, both alone and with friends. In fact, you can breeze through the three game days, discovering new and deeply satisfying ways to dispense of zombies (oh, the giddy joys of zombie ragdoll tossing in the human gerbil ball), and come out the other end ready for the game proper.

If you do, then you start afresh with your level intact and all takedown moves and combo cards, which allow you to add more deadly attacks to combo weapons, still with you. There’s a downside to that, as you won’t know a thing about what happens – so you won’t know what you should and shouldn’t do, but it’s a downside that’s very easy to live with.

We’re told today that putting zombies in a video game is a no brainer, which doesn’t do a game like Dead Rising 2 justice. Because what this game does is successfully marry elements of different game genres – sandbox, beat ‘em up, hack and slash, dungeon crawl – and wrap them up in oodles of humour in the form of groaning, shuffling zombies. If you can’t get any enjoyment out of this game then you are so far gone, baby, you one of them.


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Written by Neil

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  1. Kevin M /

    Dead Rising 2 is great fun, and very inventive. The only thing that annoys me, is the fact after a 3gb install, the game still needs to load every two minutes! Surely when Rockstar managed to create the sprawling Liberty City with minimal load screens in GTA IV, then it should be possible with Fortune City? Apart from that though it’s a great game, and well worth adding to your collection, especially for the co-op shenanigans.

    • I’ve thought about that and I think I know why they have load times between areas – to reload zombies. You can clear entire areas of zombies without having to save, so they need some way to put loads of zombies back. If there were no loads between zones then once you’d cleared all the zombies out they’d never return until a save moment… Anybody able to confirm or trash such an idea?

      • It’s your article.
        I think you will find that EVERYTHING reloads after the loads, thus giving you back money, weapons, health zombies.
        Get it, it’s part of the charm. the CAPCOM charm. From peeing in toilets to all the T and A shots of DDs

  2. Mate,
    Not knocking the score, it’s a bloomin hard game to rank, but get some facts right. Half of this review is going on about Rockstar when i think you will find that they didn’t have anything to do with State of Emergancy!!
    (they were only the producers VIS Entertainment made it)
    I just think its a weak link to even try and compare GTA which you were referring to Dead rising 2.
    It doesn’t do it justice when this game is a lot less “Sandbox” than they let on. On top of that comparing Capcom to Rockstar is unnessessary and shows a lack of bredth of knowledge on vid games in general. the game is 100% CAPCOM in all direction with so many ridiculous winks and nods it’s not funny. It’s basicly a CAPCOM wet dream and people always talking about R* is just a crutch that shouldn’t be used. Frick X (

    • My bad for not remembering State Of Emergency wasn’t developed by Rockstar. I stand by what I say. This game reminds me very much of State Of Emergency in that a large part of the thrills are all about picking up whatever is to hand and smashing seven shades out of people/zombies. And I also stand by the GTA comparison. I did say sandbox-like in an attempt to say it’s like a sandbox game only without as many words used.

      Sorry to say, but I’m not comparing Capcom to Rockstar. I’m comparing a Capcom published game to two Rockstar published games.

      We are at least in agreement that this is a game well worth picking up and playing?

      • Michael J /

        I’m in total agreement and can see where your comparison stems from (I’ve seen the State of Emergency one appear elsewhere since your review too). The first Dead Rising completely passed me by and I adore this game.

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