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First Impressions: Dead Rising 2

Dead Rising 2 (Xbox 360 version)

Release Date: September 28, 2010

Date of Play: September 29, 2010

One could accurately say that I’m a little hesitant going into Dead Rising 2. I adore the concept, but historically I have not been such a fan of the execution of said concept. The clunky, outdated mechanics, terrible save system, and difficulty level requiring you to play the game multiple times just to beat it once aren’t up my alley. 

So I head into Dead Rising 2 trying my best to keep an open mind. I hope the game will have changed enough this go-round to let me enjoy the wonderful open world zombie killing antics this series does better than any other, but I somewhat expect that I will be once again turned off and forced to give up. 

We shall see. 

  • The first thing the game does when I press the start button is freeze for long enough to make the think the game has locked up. We’re off to a good start, ladies and gentlemen.
  • I am already disheartened by the fact that there does not appear to be a free roam mode. I was desperately hoping there would be one, because that would stand the greatest chance of letting me enjoy this experience. I can hope one is eventually unlocked, I suppose, but that would require me to play enough to unlock it, a feat of which I am currently uncertain of my ability to accomplish.
  • Let’s see if the game proper can get me playing quicker than Case Zero did. I certainly hope so. Call me crazy, but fifteen minutes of mediocre cutscenes before any zombie killing at all is not what I want out of Dead Rising. 
  • I’m not going to lie, this game is a little fugly. It’s better looking than the first though.
  • Am I over-thinking it when I wonder how in the hell the economy of a zombie goddamn apocalypse can support a reality show like Terror Is Reality, the one featured at the beginning of Dead Rising 2? 
  • The driving controls aren’t exactly the best, but starting me off in a motorcycle and telling me to run over as many zombies as I can in a minute is a pretty fun way to start the game. 
  • I have already seen far too many loading screens. This is distressing.
  • There sure are a lot of people that sound like Canadians here in Nevada. I wonder why that could be…
  • There’s still something strange about having the save point be a bathroom. Mind you, No More Heroes did the same thing, so it’s not bad, just weird. And this game is weird so it fits. I guess.
  • Oh, of course something fucking goes wrong in the elevator. That’s not cliche at all. Sigh.
  • There’s no denying that hacking away at zombies with a fire axe is splendidly entertaining. It is, however, totally stupid that said fire axe will break like an overgrown toothpick after beheading a few measly zombies. Item degradation sucks. Always has, always will. 
  • The beginning of the game is practically screaming “Look how many zombies we can put on the screen at once!”. This trick got old a few months after the 360 was released. Still, that is a lot of zombies. Almost too many zombies. But killing zombies is fun, so perhaps this just means there’s more potential fun to be had?
  • “Get to the safe hoose!” Couldn’t they have at least tried to find Canadian voice actors that didn’t blatantly sound like Canadian voice actors? This is kind of supposed to be Nevada.
  • I haven’t gotten to kill nearly enough zombies yet. Get on with it, game.
  • Oh goodie. Whoever that overly hot chick is just gave me a radio so she can bother me all the time. Fantastic. I hope she has more self control than Otis. Well, at least if I’m going to be constantly pestered by somebody, I’d rather it be a hot redhead than an annoying old janitor with abandonment issues. Man, did I ever want to smack that dude with a golf club.
  • The cheesy elevator music that plays in the map screen and the pause screen is brilliant.
  • The fact that the menu freezes when saving a change of options or saving your game instead of, I don’t know, giving you some sort of immediate notification it’s actually doing something and not screwing up, feels a little sloppy.
  • Roaming through a mall, cheesy music in the background, poking zombies with a push broom. This is what Dead Rising is supposed to be about. I hope all the crap I didn’t like from the first game stays enough out of the way here so I can actually enjoy myself this time. 
  • Is that an ad for Playboy I see in the background? WTF?
  • I wish the game would give me some hint on how to heal or where healing items are or something, because that would be really useful information right about now. What, do they expect me to remember what the hell I’m doing?
  • Oh great, I walked right into a boss fight with no healing items and one block of health. This is going to end well. I can tell.
  • I’m actually still alive. Color me surprised.
  • Mmm… delicious orange juice. Hello health, nice to see you again. I think I’ll take one of these for the road.
  • All right, I have my first survivor to escort. Let’s see how much better this AI has really gotten. 
  • Results of first escort: not bad. I didn’t have to go far, and she got hung up once or twice, but she did far, far better than any of the brain-dead morons from the first game would have. I am cautiously optimistic. 
  • Yay! Health upgrade! My inevitable death will take ever so slightly longer now.
  • The clunky control scheme just caused me to waste my one precious health item. Fantastic. 
  • I tried on some nifty sneakers I found and the game decided it would be fun to let me get attacked in the middle of loading the new apparal. I could not dodge or defend myself in any way. Awesome.
  • Heh. I’m killing zombies with a water cooler. Sweet.
  • Number of health items wasted due to awkward handling of items: 2. 
  • I am pleased that so far the radio seems to unobtrusively alert me to new missions becoming available and generally stays the hell out of my way unless I choose to pull up the mission list it now provides. A very welcome change from Otis’s incessant babbling.
  • Hey, look at that. I completed a mission and it asked me, automatically and outside of a bathroom even, whether I wanted to save my game. How surprisingly modern.

Conclusion: My initial trial with Dead Rising 2, despite my worries, has so far been surprisingly positive. My comments above should demonstrate my conundrum. Like the first Dead Rising, this is an essentially broken, clumsy game with an absolutely fantastic premise and enough awesome weapons and exploration to hook you into playing more. A vital distinction is that Dead Rising 2 seems to be somewhat less broken that its predecessor, meaning the final product may actually end up being playable this time. 

The things that kept me from enjoying the first game have so far not gotten enough in my way to keep me from enjoying the slaughter. However, I worry that this is simply because I have not gotten far enough into the game for the problems to progress to their most annoying. Only time will be able to show me whether this is a game I will be able to play for any great length.

Result: For now, I must admit Dead Rising 2 is actually a game I seem to be motivated to continue playing. It would seem that smashing a zombie’s head in with a baseball bat spiked with nails is something the game is going to have to give me a good reason to stop doing, which it has not done as yet. Regardless of how long this motivation lasts, this is a better state than I thought I would be in following my first hour with this game. Let us conclude by saying so far so good, but Dead Rising 2 isn’t off the hook yet. I shall still be keeping a watchful eye out for the annoyances that plagued the first game. I fear they may not be gone for good. 


[Update: As a general rule, I don't like to update my First Impressions features with thoughts beyond my first hour. It sort of spoils the point, you know? In this particular instance I'm going to make an exception. I'm only a couple of hours further into Dead Rising 2 and already I've hit a point where the save system has sapped nearly all of my motivation to continue. This makes me even more sad than the first game because I truly am having a good time with this game, but the atrocious save system means every time I die I lose 30 minutes or so of progress. I figured this possible game-ender was worth noting considering the generally positive tone of the rest of this article. Buyer beware - the save system here is no less a nightmare than in the first game.]

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