Dead Rising 2: Case Zero Review: The Case Of The Zombie-Killing DemoS

I have downed alcohol until vomiting, I have halved zombies crown to crotch. I have wielded an electrified rake. I am Chuck Greene: The zombie apocalypse's worst nightmare.

Xbox 360 exclusive Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is meant to be a prequel to the full Dead Rising 2 game due out on Sept. 28. In Case Zero, you are introduced to Chuck Greene and his zombie plauge-infected daughter as they roll into a gas station in Still Creek, a tiny town outside of the Vegas-like Fortune City. Minutes into the game, Greene finds himself trapped in the town with a daughter desperately in need of a zombie-fighting dose of Zombrex and the threat of an encroaching, uncaring military bearing down on his location.

You've got half a day to find the medicine, find a ride and stay alive.

Loved

Gameplay Overhaul: Case Zero is for the most part a glorified demo, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the five dollars. Besides getting to dip into the world of Dead Rising again, you also get a chance to check out all of those wonderful additions to the series. You'll learn how to build your own weapons by putting two things together at a workbench. You'll scramble up walls and along roof tops. You'll be able to try the much-improved shooting of Dead Rising 2. And then there are the graphics, the new weapons and the gruesome way you can slice and dice zombies, lopping off body parts and even cutting them in half vertically.

Pick a Path: Case Zero isn't just a zombie-killing fun park. There are missions and side-stories. While working your way through the objectives you'll also have plenty of opportunities to pick up stranded stragglers, saving them for experience and cash, both of which transfer over to the full release of the game when it hits. The best part, the biggest draw for playing and replaying and replaying the game for me, was the discovering that the game has four different endings. Depending on what you do and how well you do it, you're treated to different game-ending cut scenes. That's a fantastic way to get gamers to get the most out of the Case Zero's town and many buildings.

Hated

Losing the Plot: Capcom was very clear about how Dead Rising 2: Case Zero was going to be a game that fell at the middle point between the original Dead Rising and the upcoming Dead Rising 2. I was even told at one point that we'd find out a bit about the original game's protagonist, Frank West. But no such thing happened during my three complete play-throughs of the game. And the plot that the game rests on is more a device to keep you moving, to excuse the time-locked play session, than it is something that plucks at your emotions or pulls you through the game. Let's hope that developer Blue Castle Games does a much better job with the story of Dead Rising 2, because the prequel's felt flat and rushed.

Viewed from the perspective of value: Dead Rising 2: Case Zero walks a very fine line. There are many things about it that feel an awful lot like a demo: The time limit, the throwaway plot, the level cap. But on the other hand, it's a game I played through completely not once, but three times and thoroughly enjoyed with each pass.

The town of Still Creek is packed with places to explore, roofs to get to, stores to unlock, weapons to find and weapons to build, and even a final boss fight. And there are all of those zombies, the walking dead that get so thick and piled up against one another at times that they look like an ambling, roiling jungle of decay. A jungle you can't help but cleave through again and again with broadsword, with bowling pin, with heated frying pan, with nail-studded baseball bat... with great satisfaction.

Five dollars? Absolutely!

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero was developed by Blue Castle Games and published by Capcom for the Xbox 360 on Aug. 31. Retails for 400 Microsoft points or $5 USD. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through the game completely three times, achieved three different endings. Played through large sections of the game more than a dozen times.

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