August 31, 2010

Review – Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — Jamie Love @ 11:58 am

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
If being a single-parent today is a difficult task, Chuck Greene has a doubly hard time ahead trying to survive the pitfalls of Zombieland with his young daughter Katey in-tow. Complicating matters further is a ticking clock requiring her to receive a dose of a wonder drug called Zombrex every twelve hours – else she would join the ranks of infected clogging the road to Las Vegas. Between her and that medication is that never ending sea of zombies as well as the military, and several more colorful characters stepping out of the horror film genre to make an appearance in Capcom’s alternative take on the zombie gaming genre.

It’s an admittedly crowded genre, which Capcom already holds a large share of but still finds niche space for the Dead Rising series with the slower pace of the Romero zombie, a creature eager for the work since largely falling out of cinema favor with a post 28 Days Later audience. And it’s a bit surprising just how well those relics can flourish in a post Left4Dead gaming space, where opportunities to crowd and overwhelm but also still sneak up on players offers new life.

As with the original, Case Zero is a bit of playing out the survivor fantasy first implanted as a thought by Dawn of the Dead, with a mix of horror brevity and cheese to round out the ride. Case Zero offers a prequel glimpse into the sequel, an introduction to Chuck’s ride toward an infected Vegas with a brief stop over that offers players a taste of items, characters, challenges, and of course the horde. What Case Zero really offers is a breath of relief with evidence that Dead Rising 2’s co-development between Capcom and Blue Castle Games is on track to succeed where other externally developed ventures have failed Capcom recently – so far so good.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
In environments where the undead crowd the streets and every item in sight offers a potential defense, the controls provide a simple and effective means of putting those two pieces together without complex tutorials. Grab an item and swing it or throw it – there’s a smooth play at work only occasionally made difficult by the sheer volume of items that can take an extra moment of positioning to pick the one desired.

My first run through the game was a write-off of obligatory experimentation, time utterly lost in the immediate pursuit of silly distractions – chuck a bottle of shampoo at the undead and watch them continually slip on the spillage – good times. When that bit of fun runs the course, discovering the game’s combo items is as simple as putting the right two pieces on a workbench – the guesswork made easier with potential items bearing wrench icons – creating more powerful toys such as bats spiked with nails, pitchfork shotguns, or airhorns powerful enough to explode zombie heads.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
Being let loose to run around in costumes and slice up the horde offers immediate access for veterans and newcomers to get the gist of Case Zero, but that’s certainly not the entire story, and when the carnage runs dry players start tackling missions, escorting survivors back to a fortified position while working to find the Zombrex needed and discover a means of escape before the military arrives.

There’s a bit of Groundhog Day at work, since everything is tied to the time on Chuck’s watch and the need to procure another dose of Zombrex before the day ends – there were a few practice runs before I figured out a recipe for the perfect day against a convincing time elapse slowly darkening the streets as the final minutes ticked away against the rush of saving every last survivor and getting that life extending medication to Katey.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
It wasn’t simply the immediate satisfaction of the bloody spectacle that made a good impression, as always it’s the little things – the smooth means by which the supply of zombies never runs dry, replenishing naturally without any awkward notice. There were several times I simply turned around to see the blur along the street as the sun began setting over the flow of shuffling bodies filling the screen with an endless tide of lost souls waiting to be put out of their misery – with a reasonably healthy dose of Zombie identity lending a bit more personality.

The real charm is that Chuck isn’t an overpowered super character through his own abilities, interaction with items and the environment offer the real super strength, a bit of play that makes handguns less effective than swinging a gumball machine, encouraging players to experiment and invest a little deeper in the world stretching around them.

I’m not normally a fan of time management, but the game gains an important structure from the plot device of Zombrex injections for Katey, which doesn’t make a perfect playthough likely the first time out, but offers a key challenge after the experimentation runs its course. It also tightens this first taste quite successfully, making Case Zero’s accomplishment the way I’m left desiring more – more items, areas, characters and problem solving, putting confidence behind the upcoming sequel and giving a well measured bit of the experience that proves worthy of more than a few sessions for players ahead of the full release a month from now.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
DeveloperBlue Castle Games
System – Xbox 360 (Xbox LIVE)
Release Date – August 31, 2010
Price – 400 Microsoft Points

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review


  1. So, no chance of this being released on PSN? I would like to try the Dead Rising series and a $5 extended “sorta Demo but this content won’t be on the final release. Promise” could be a great way to do so.

    Comment by EdEN — August 31, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

  2. It is a really great cheapish way to get a taste, but unfortunately only on 360, sorry dude :(

    Comment by Jamie Love — August 31, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

  3. Nice I downloaded the trail version, I’ll probably grab the full version later… but I’ll have too much Vanquish on my hands in the meantime!

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — August 31, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

  4. Awesome! I bought DR2:CZ and it’s rad! I was a bad father however and gave the hot chick her Zombrex when I only had 1! I was hoping to score with the chick’s soon to be sister in law! What can I say? ;) Also… While I didn’t take the tutorial in Vanquish yet… you probably should do that… the controls take a few plays to finally get! Once you do however… you’ll be zooming across the screen with your jets in no time! :)

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — August 31, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

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