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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Dead Rising 2.

Transcript Edit

Once upon a time, there was a game called Dead Rising that coined the phrase "when there's no more room in hell, the NPCs will walk into walls a whole bunch." It came out on the Xbox 360 while the console was still young and innocent - and the word "Kinect" would still have made red wavy lines appear in Microsoft Word - and featured a unique approach to sandbox gameplay set in a zombie holocaust. And while it's true the difficulty curve was so steep it had a fucking overhang that only curved harder during the countless escort missions hampered by survivor A.I. that had been curb-stomped a few times under the hobnail boots of the stupid fairy, it was at least a pretty original game.

But now there's a sequel, so so much for that. The only real difference is that instead of leveling up by taking funny pictures of zombies for your scrapbook, now you do it by sellotaping fire axes to sledgehammers and pounding them into gravy.

Actually, that's a pretty good difference.

So after everyone just sort of got over the whole zombie apocalypse thing in the first game, an effort is made to just "live and let unlive" with the zombies, or rather "live and let splatter all over pay-per-view TV with chainsaw motorbikes." But there's another gosh-darned outbreak, and our hero, Chuck Greene, is trapped in a glitzy, Vegas-style hellhole with a disproportionally large number of psychotic murderers with ridiculous amounts of health.

The story is, naturally, retarded; this is Capcom we're talking about. Capcom make game stories the same way tumble dryers make potato salad. The main plot involves a protest group who are opposed to cruelty to zombies, because, you know, give a shambling corpse a friendly hug and he might briefly remember being human after he's had a few mouthfuls of your face. But the plot makes out they're supposed to be in the right! Chuck is even established to have sympathies with them right before he runs outside in a lady's crimplene dress and uses a battle axe to separate the top halves and the bottom halves of the entire cast of 28 Days Later.

Let me make this clear now: I actually quite like Dead Rising 2. It just doesn't seem to like me very much, and I'm not sure why when I'm obviously such a cuddly, inoffensive soul. Just as before, you have a certain amount of time to kill before rescue, with timed events occurring at fixed points, and I had to restart the game at one point because the time limit on a critical boss encounter ran out while I has halfway through the fucking thing. How the hell did the boss make their escape while I was watching them wind my lower intestines around a candyfloss machine, Dead Rising 2?

The cynic in me - sorry, that should have read, "the cynic that is me" - wants to say that the ability to restart the game at any point, retaining your character level and upgrades, is a feature added so they wouldn't have to balance the game properly, as there are a lot of encounters and boss fights that on a first playthrough are about as fair as a man with nitroglycerin buttock injections entering an arse-kicking contest. It was only halfway through my second attempt that I finally learned the fucking dodge roll. That would have been nice about three hours ago when the giant pink chainsaw was sliding bloodily in and out of my newly-created chest vagina. There's a fine line between extending a game's lastability and just wasting my fucking time.

Importantly, the NPCs are significantly less retarded and will now efficiently follow you no matter how little attention you give them, sort of like most of my ex-girlfriends. They're much better at navigating crowds of zombies, too, so the actual escorts are trivial skips through the tulips, but from a certain point onwards a surprising number of survivors refuse to follow you until you pay them money. Oh, okay, I'll just leave you inside that zombie's mouth for an hour or two while I go find an ATM. Sorry, survivor, I forgot: did you say you wanted money or to be punched in the face with flaming boxing gloves? Because those I've got. It's not too much of a problem, because as long as you caveman club every ATM you pass you'll never be hurting for money. But it does feel a bit hypocritical when one of the primary subsets of non-zombie enemies are looters whereas what you're doing is just wealth redistribution, right?

Speaking of flaming boxing gloves, the USP this time around is that objects can be combined into special weapons. The combinations that actually work, though, seem a little bit arbitrary, and experimentation is largely fruitless. The game will let you tape a machete to a broom handle but not, say, a Bowie knife or a meat cleaver or an angry cat. It all smacks of adventure game logic, with only the one thing the developer thought of being acknowledged. As in, "you can use the broom to knock the giant moustache off the Washington Monument, but not the bamboo stick, because you need that you appease the angry panda six rooms from now." Most of the combinations are maybe good for a quick giggle at the novelty, but there are only a handful of efficient, day-to-day, go-to combos. For example, once you do tape a fire axe to a sledgehammer, the game mights as well just roll the credits, because anything that gets in the way of it will have a head resembling a Cornish pasty being hit by a car. I beat most of the boss fights just by wailing on them with it, tanking their attacks and necking orange juice like a dehydrated Floridian.

The best part of playing Dead Rising 2 is when I decide to stop, but that's not the smug wanker criticism it sounds like. After I save the game, I say: "Right, tomorrow I will reload that save, so everything I do now is consequence free!" Then I can run around experimenting, testing new combos, trying on womens' dresses, and breaking wind into the phone every time my support character reminds me to find medication for my terminally ill child. Taking on the zombie hordes with a lawnmower blade strapped to the top of your head is exactly the kind of Serious Sam over-the-top fun violence action games need more of these days.

What I like about it is it's a true water cooler game, and I'm not taking about all that Facebook game bollocks where you can boast to all your friends because you stuck a radish up an imaginary cow's arse. You get together with your other Dead Rising 2 playing mates and you can discuss for hours what combos you found, boss-fighting tactics, and where to find the chainsaws and mankinis. Perhaps a romance could blossom that will last a lifetime if you discover a similar taste in weapons and womens' clothing, but what we don't want to know is what you'll do on the first date.

AddendaEdit

Usually dead rising at around 6AM: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

GAMING PRO TIP: Drinking an entire bottle of coffee creamer in one chug is exactly the sort of thing everyone hates America for

There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed


ScreenshotsEdit

Dead Rising 2 1

They're much better at navigating crowds of zombies

Dead Rising 2 2

Testing new combos

Dead Rising 2 3

What you'll do on the first date

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
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Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart

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