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Critical Reception: Capcom's  Dead Rising 2

Critical Reception: Capcom's Dead Rising 2

September 29, 2010 | By Danny Cowan

September 29, 2010 | By Danny Cowan
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This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Capcom's survival horror sequel Dead Rising 2, which reviews describe as "outrageously, savagely entertaining." Dead Rising 2 currently earns a score of 80 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

Game Informer's Jeff Cork scores Dead Rising 2 at 9.5 out of 10. "Dead Rising was an early example of what the then-new Xbox 360 hardware could do," he explains. "Running through vast crowds of zombies in a mall was wish fulfillment for a generation of people raised on George Romero movies, and slaughtering them wholesale with improvised weaponry was blood-red icing on the cake."

Cork continues: "A finicky save-game system and terrible AI created two outspoken camps -- those who couldn't stand the game, and an equally vocal group of apologists. For the sequel, Blue Castle Games and Capcom took a long, hard look at the first game and addressed nearly all of its major annoyances. The end result is one of the most enjoyable games I've played this year."

Cork notes that Dead Rising 2's character escorting mechanics offer a vast improvement over its predecessor. "Guiding survivors to the safe house in Fortune City is a big part of the game, though it's much less annoying than it was in the first one," he says. "NPCs follow Chuck at the press of a button, and they can be guided to a specific place by adding a trigger pull."

"I never had a problem with survivor AI, even during points when I had a train of six followers," Cork recalls. "They kept pace with me wherever I went, navigating stairs and other potential obstructions with ease. I never felt comfortable having the AI shadowing me in the first game, but there were points in Dead Rising 2 when I was bummed to say goodbye to them."

The new weapon combination mechanic also works in the game's favor. "Chuck can combine specific objects at special stations to create super weapons," Cork writes. "If you think a fire axe and sledgehammer are effective against zombie skulls, you'll be impressed with what they can do when they're duct-taped together."

"Even after playing for dozens of hours, you'll still find new things in Dead Rising 2," Cork claims. "I won't spoil anything, but there's a lot of variety to be found in the game beyond obvious things like the number of objects that can be used as bludgeons. This game is designed for multiple playthroughs, and I'm looking forward to each and every one of them."

At GameSpot, Tom McShea rates Dead Rising 2 at 8.5 out of 10. "In the world of Dead Rising 2, there's an activist organization known as CURE that pushes for the humane treatment of the living impaired," he notes. "If only CURE realized just how much fun it can be to maim, behead, or otherwise massacre hordes of brain-craving zombies."

McShea finds that Dead Rising 2's core mechanics remain largely familiar, for better and for worse. "Unfortunately, along with the good elements that made the original game a beloved hit come the same quirks that will cause you to occasionally stumble," he warns. "Frequent load screens break up the fine pacing, control blemishes make precision difficult, and the driving controls are lousy."

"But the core of this game is so outrageously, savagely entertaining that it's easy to look past these missteps. Dead Rising 2 is a unique and engaging experience that is difficult to pull away from and eminently replayable."

McShea praises the game's goofy sense of humor, in particular. "The story does a fine job of embracing stereotypes from zombie movies," he writes. "The cast of characters, including a volatile security officer and sultry news reporter, have an over-the-top acting style that makes it enjoyable to see what ridiculous thing will spew from their mouths next. It's a tongue-in-cheek approach that never takes itself too seriously."

The new weapons system is similarly inspired. "The combinations are preordained, so you don't have the freedom to create whatever wacky ideas you have in your head, but there are plenty of unique gadgets to go around," McShea assures.

"Dead Rising 2 delicately balances wanton destruction with thoughtful objectives," McShea says. "Just about every aspect of this game is entertaining, ensuring that you're having a good time whether you're fighting psychopaths, rescuing survivors, or just trying to find hidden secrets. The weapon-creation system continually rewards you with unique ways to kill your brain-starved foes, but it's the tight structure that provides the main draw. Because you're continually pushed from one objective to the next, you don't have time to dwell on small problems."

1UP.com's Thierry Nguyen gives Dead Rising 2 a B+ grade. "While the first Dead Rising was a fresh 'Groundhog Day of the Dead' type experience, it also was a deeply flawed one," he admits. "It featured a save system that added both tension and sheer frustration. It used a counterintuitive control scheme where Right trigger aimed instead of shot. Much of the game consisted of infuriating escort missions where your escortees got lost or killed way too easily. In short, it was a mishmash that couldn't decide whether it was a Japanese or an American game."

"So while it would be easy to assume that having a Canadian studio develop the sequel would result in another culture clash," Nguyen reasons, "it ends up creating the very game that we should have had in the first place."

Nguyen lists a few of Dead Rising 2's significant gameplay improvements: "Now there are three save slots instead of just one, and you're automatically prompted to save whenever a main event happens. Like a traditional Western game, you now aim with the Left-Trigger and shoot with the Right-Trigger. The visuals now look like they're from a proper high-definition game. Escortees will actually live -- their improved health and A.I. means that it takes a concerted effort for one to die rather than the frustrating and frequent deaths in the first game."

"Other ways that Dead Rising 2 distinguishes itself from its predecessor is through its multiplayer treatment," Nguyen notes. "You can play the story in co-op, where another player takes his own Chuck into someone else's game to help out."

"Besides co-op," Nguyen continues, "there's also the competitive Terror Is Reality, a sort of Mario Party/Fusion Frenzy-with-zombies experience where you play four rounds of minigames against three other players for cash to take back into your story. Neither multiplayer is particularly deep nor addictive in the same way as Call of Duty, but they're amusing distractions that help out the main game."

Technical issues mar the experience, however. "Anytime either a cut-scene plays or Chuck goes from a mall to a casino to an outdoor strip, the game takes a good thirty seconds or so to load," Nguyen warns. "There are also some issues in core gameplay as well. Veterans of the first game might quibble at how much easier this one is by comparison, but everyone will probably agree that the psychopaths are a bit of a letdown. Sure, their presentation is satirical and wacky, but their gameplay boils down to rote pattern memorization and exploiting them when they're vulnerable."

"Ultimately, sure, Dead Rising 2 has annoying technical flaws and uninteresting boss battles," Nguyen concludes. "But the ability to jump into a friend's game while wearing a Borat-inspired mankini and a Servbot helmet with a lawnmower blade strapped on top helps you quickly forget those problems."


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