It’s not all fun and mini-games for Dead Rising 2 though, as managing your different objectives and keeping track of what missions are available to you can occasionally be a real pain in the proverbial. You’ll be wandering around Fortune City’s casino when your walkie-talkie will crackle into life and Chuck’s allies at the bunker will inform him of a new mission that must be tackled within a certain time window.
This creates problems. First off, nearly all dialog is delivered to Chuck by text boxes (no spoken word here, folks) that linger on the screen for an awkwardly long time. The action doesn’t pause while you’re stuck in conversation and Chuck can’t do any other action – so taking phone calls or talking to survivors if zombies abound is needlessly hazardous.
Secondly, while you can tackle things in any order you want, missions have to be completed within a certain time limit, which can be a hassle if you’re too far away or too busy. It’s especially annoying on your first playthrough too, as it takes a fair bit of time to learn the layout of Fortune City and the in-game map isn’t super useful.
Fear my fluids!
Fortunately, Dead Rising 2 is quite forgiving a lot of the time. Most of the tasks you’re bombarded with are not only entirely optional, but arguably better tackled when you’ve played things through once or twice and know the ropes. Only a masochist would try and save everyone in the city on their first go!
Even the more important story missions aren’t mandatory either, giving you the freedom to just kill zombies and dispose of all the plot nonsense. If you fluff something up in your investigation then you’re immediately told that the truth has vanished and given the option to either reload or carry on playing regardless. It’s the best of both worlds.
Making it the best of even more worlds is the inclusion of drop-in co-op too, though you’ll need Games for Windows Live to use it on the PC version. We really do like the addition of co-op, especially because Dead Rising 2 is so inherently expressive and anarchic with its dozens of outfits and weapon combos. That tone is replicated in the multiplayer mode too, which sees players joining in with the Terror is Reality gameshow that Chuck was once part of.
Distractions and mini-games abound
Multiplayer in Dead Rising 2 is basically a collection of competitive mini-games which tie in to the singleplayer campaign, allowing you to earn money for Chuck to use at pawnshops. The games themselves range from simple competitions to see who can mow down the most zombies on a chainsaw-decorated motorbike through to using artificial antlers to toss zombies around. The fact that the action is limited to mini-games unfortunately deprives Dead Rising 2’s multiplayer of any staying power – you won’t be playing it a month from now in all likelihood – but it’s kitsch enough to be fun while it lasts.
That sentiment sums up Dead Rising 2 as a whole too; fun while it lasts, but ultimately likely to wear a bit thin for most people. The more you play the more tiny niggles, such as the tediously slow walking speed and somewhat stiff controls (and, on PC, the inability to reassign keys), start to wear on you. Capcom has done well at delivering a world that feels awash with possibilities and which we want to jump in and play with, but doing so occasionally feels a bit harder work than it needs to be. The immediate and obvious comparison is Just Cause 2 running at half-speed but with a lot more weaponry and gore.
The result is a truly fun game which unfortunately doesn’t manage to be quite as accessible as we’d like it to be and which requires an awful lot of patience to get the most out of. If you’re willing to make the investment then Dead Rising 2 is a game you’ll return to again and again, but for everyone else it falls just short of being a true classic. We’ve enjoyed the game immensely and would love to recommend it universally, but we just can’t bring ourselves to do so.