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Dead Rising 2: Case Zero Review

Review; Sep. 2, 2010; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
I see a dead moon rising

If there’s one thing I dislike the most about this generation of gaming, it’s the constant micro-transactions which have become the norm for the genre. When done right, it’s a great way to extend the life of a game. Fallout 3 and Burnout Paradise are prime examples: a decent amount of new game content with a fair price tag. However, there have been many examples of downloadable content done wrong this generation -- either content that was already on disk being locked for a price or outrageous prices for an unequal amount of content. What once was a way to breathe new life into a game quickly evolved into a money-grubbing tactic. A tactic I largely ignored and wished to have no part of.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero Screenshots
Click the image to view screenshots.

When Dead Rising 2: Case Zero was announced and detailed, my skepticism grew. I was certain Capcom was going to offer nothing more than a glorified tech demo for a price. With the bitter taste of the whole Resident Evil 5 versus mode fresh in my mind, I was almost certain the sequel to one of my favorite 360 titles would fall victim to the money-stealing DLC cash train.

I am happy to report that while Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is more or less a large demo to Dead Rising 2, it packs more than enough content to justify its 400 Microsoft points ($5 for those who don’t deal in spacebucks).

The most noticeable change between this game and its prequel is its item creation system. One of the joys of the prequel was the ability to explore the mall and find different items to utilize on the undead. In Case Zero, there exists plenty of tools to help you get the zombie killing job done, from propane tanks to chainsaws. But where the new gameplay twist comes in is with the ability to combine certain items to create even stronger ones. A simple baseball bat and a box of nails may not be particularly effective on their own, but when combined, they create a nail-spiked combo which not only takes out zombies more efficiently, but also causes main character Chuck Greene to gain more experience points and level his stats faster. This is just a simple combo; many more item combinations await those who play the game. I won't spoil anything, but here’s a hint: boomstick.

Beyond the new item combinations, not much else has changed from the original Dead Rising. The screen is still filled with zombies that need killin', with more than enough items to accomplish this task. People still need to be rescued; Item fetch quests are still required to move the story forward, and while the map isn't as large as the original’s mall setting, there are still a lot of buildings and rooftops to explore in the given time limit. That’s right: Case Zero plays just like the original for better and for worse. There is still an overall time limit which constantly ticks down -- whether it’s the incoming military forces or the time until your daughter succumbs to the zombie sickness, the clock is constantly ticking, and this is something you always have to keep in mind when taking the time to explore. Saving is still done by finding certain save points and the occasional save done by the game, which can be especially frustrating if you play for a long stretch and die randomly. The controls are slightly improved in this game but still clunky overall. Using firearms isn’t as awkward as the first game -- the movement while aiming is slow, and when using melee weapons, the weapon attack animations must finish their animation once you start, leaving you exposed if a zombie comes from behind. These animations also make it difficult to chain different attacks together.

Case Zero was meant to fill in the plot points between Dead Rising 1 and Dead Rising 2. But the story does nothing to fill in any gaps. There’s no mention of Willamette Mall or Frank West. Instead, we’re introduced to new protagonist Chuck Greene who, after pulling into a small town with his zombie-infected daughter, must find more medicine and survive until the two of them can escape in one piece. The father-daughter dynamic works particularly well. It might come off as heavy handed because it’s implemented as gameplay rather than character or plot development, but it works. No matter what you do or where you go, your daughter will always be on your mind, the time ticking down before you must administer her medicine. If you don’t ... Well, let’s just say that the ending isn’t particularly uplifting.

For what could have been another attempt to take the money of eager Dead Rising fans, Case Zero delivers a sizable game with a ton of content, the option to carry over your leveled up character, and the same dark humor which made the original Dead Rising great. Sure, there are a few flaws, but most of them are easy to overlook when the rest of the package is so great. For $5, you get more than few hours of zombie killing entertainment and different endings to encourage multiple play through. Blue Castle Games did a fantastic job keeping faithful to the original game and adding new twists to the formula.

For $5, it’s well worth a peek into the world of Dead Rising. This is downloadable content done right. More please.


Review Score


Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

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