Review: It ain’t easy being Greene in Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

As zombie fever begins to take hold, with the release of Dead Rising 2 imminent, Capcom is giving you the chance to take their franchise out for a wee spin, affords you the opportunity to give yourself a leg up if you want to pre-level up your character and lets you make an informed decision whether or not you want to give the full price release a go at the end of the month. For the paltry price of 400 Microsoft Points, it certainly is a bargain, but is this a real taste, or just a quick cash in before the full game drops later this month?

It’s a little of both to be perfectly honest, but lets get down to brass tacks, shall we? Set three years before the events of Dead Rising 2, Case Zero sees our hero, Chuck Greene, trying to escape the quarantine barricade set a fifty mile radius around Las Vegas after the zombie fueled outbreak. Rolling into the sleepy armpit of a town called Still Creek to gas up, Chuck has his ride jacked and is left holed up in Gas Station with an infected daughter, a powerful need to give her Zombrex (the government sanctioned zombie inhibitor… NOT a cure) and 12 or so hours to get the fuck out of dodge before the army rolls in and carts off Daddy’s little girl and turns her into a science experiment.

So Chuck sets off to find Katie a shot of Zombrex and a way out of town, all the while unlocking doors, looking for weapons (and creating some of his own MacGuyver style), corralling survivors and, of course, slaughtering the never ending zombie horde. The premise and design is to give you a limited amount of time to do a series of appointed tasks against the clock, and ensure multiple playthroughs, as the four different endings indicate.

If you’re a dab hand at Dead Rising, you should be able to unlock just about every achievement with two playthroughs, as I rescued all survivors, escaped town for the “true” ending, and then only needed the second bite at the apple to kill a thousand zombies or grind enough to earn $100,000 to spend at the pawn shop, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

After you search the relatively small and encapsulated town of Still Creek for Zombrex, you’ll come across a dozen survivors, each with tasks that need to be performed to get them to join you in the safe house (Gas Station). These are not necessary, though you will need to glean clues from them to get out of town. You’ll do this by reassembling a motorbike from pieces you’ll find on your travels, and if you manage to put it together in time, and give your little girl the Zombrex she needs, you’ll motor off into the sunset, on your way to Dead Rising 2. But we all know this is of little consequence. The draw card of the series has always been combining unique items to create more unique implements of death to killify as many zombies as possible.

To this end, you can earn PP (Prestige Points) for killing zombies with specific weapons and escorting survivors, and unlock combo cards (used when, funnily enough, combining two specific items in a maintenance shack) to be used in Dead Rising 2. You can get up to level 5 on PP, and there are nine combo weapons to discover, with the spiked bat (baseball bat + nails), the paddlesaw (a double ended kayak oar + 2 chainsaws) and the electric rake (rake + car battery) my personal favourites. Well, that and the “douche faced” smirk Chuck pulls after taping two items together. These are the piece de resistance, with many other weapons like broadswords, shotguns, assault rifles littered about for you to play with.

I had truly forgotten how painfully addictive slaughtering a thousand or so zombies was, and was often distracted from side quests to just take a moment to bash in the skulls of a dozen or so in my path. Just like the prequel, food replenishes your health, and is essential to have on you at all times. The zombies don’t move very fast, but they do swarm, and if you get overwhelmed, they will happily nom nom nom you to death. There is a mini boss battle near the end, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, as it is one of the few surprises of the DLC.

For a downloadable title it’s not bad looking at all, though Chuck himself needs to see a stylist, as his hair is a Ricky Martin 2005 classic, and that cut is just sooo out of fashion right now. You still save in bathrooms, just like the original, though I’m pleased to say, the survivors you rescue seem to be able to defend themselves and have decent AI, as opposed to the borderline retarded, hair rippingly frustrating actions seen in Dead Rising. A competent gamer should knock it all out in a couple of hours, and I never felt overwhelmed or frustrated, it was merely a matter of time before I crossed off the next objective, and while it is relatively short, the bargain basement price does make it very appealing. If you’re wondering what the whole Dead Rising hoopla is about, this is the perfect Whitman sampler to help you decide if you want Dead Rising 2, or not.


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Dave Kozicki

Shotgun Samurai
Video game reviewer, presenter and enthusiast. Film and TV-aholic. Pop culture geek. T-shirt and sneaker addict. All around nice guy and one hell of a sexy beast. Writer for Official PlayStation Magazine AU, AusGamers and Hyper Magazine.
  • Anonymous

    Paying for demos now and nobody suspects a thing…nice one M$