Dead Rising 2: Case Zero Review

The most fun you can have with a taxidermy moose head.

Think back to the last time you went on a weekend trip or driving vacation when you pulled off the interstate to one of those little rest stop clusters of convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants. Most aren't too pretty and nearly everyone doesn't want to hang around much longer than it takes to pump a tank of gas, use the restroom and grab a box of Mike & Ikes for the road. Just imagine how Chuck Greene must have felt when his car was stolen while he stopped to refuel at one of these miniature towns that appear along every major roadway in America. Not to mention that the town is overrun with zombies, a murderous psychopath and that his young daughter is slowly succumbing to the zombie disease… Chuck's having a horrible day and it's up to you to generate some good luck for him.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive prequel to Dead Rising 2 that easily holds its own as a stand-alone title. Players interested in saving Chuck the heroic father and sickly Katey from a terrible fate can dive right into Case Zero without any previous knowledge of the Dead Rising franchise. Case Zero is a timed game that gives the player one day, translating into little over one hour in real-time, to find a dose of Zombrex to stave off Katey's illness and while searching for a way out of Still Creek.

The game rapidly opens up to the player due to the one hour limitation and it pushes for repeated play sessions to complete all of the necessary, silly and strange goals that the player wants complete. While finding a tube of little Katey's Zombrex and getting a ride out of the town are top priority for players, there are infinite ways to get the job done with the survival tactics provided. There are locked doors to open, survivors to rescue, submissions to complete and hilarious items to build. Case Zero may only last an hour per run-through, but it will take several return trips to Still Creek to find everything that developer Blue Castle left on this gory Easter egg hunt.

Realism takes center stage in Case Zero- Still Creek looks like a worn-out roadside hovel, nearly all of the survivors are all sympathetic characters with a feeling of hopelessness and despair about them with the zombies as absolutely hideous abominations. Chuck's abilities are all based around a human's natural limits, making Case Zero a pseudo-realistic zombie apocalypse simulation. Extra abilities, attacks, health and item storage slots become available to Chuck as he accomplishes certain tasks during the rush for survival. Most of these leveling-up tactics revolve around creative ways to finish off zombies, so keep an eye out for a spare

sledgehammer to improve Chuck while mowing the undead down. The game isn't shy about reminding players that all of the progress put into Chuck's abilities will transfer over to Dead Rising 2 and the feature is a nice perk if you decide to continue Chuck and Katey's story. (Provided they survive the prequel!) The story smoothly fills in the gaps between Dead Rising and its sequel while presenting shocking surprises every few minutes to keep players on their toes.

Ranging from the intensely destructive Paddle Chainsaw to the shockingly beneficial Beer Hat, combo weapons and items are the largest new feature in the Dead Rising series. By placing two matching items on a tool bench, Chuck produces devices that are much more than the sum of their parts. While hitting a zombie with a baseball bat is somewhat effective and throwing handfuls of nails at the ghouls is good for a momentary childish giggle, combining the two to make a skull-crushing Spiked Bat weapon results in a life-saving tool to smash your way through dense decaying crowds of flesh eaters. Creative players will have a ball searching for combinable items to create powerful super-weapons while they desperately try to find the one item that joins with the garden rake.

Case Zero walks a fine line between carefully crafting a survival plan to get the happy ending and having fun by throwing bowling balls at zombies from rooftops in a pink diner waitress dress. For those who want to find all of Still Creek's secrets, the game is paced well enough to make replays enjoyable. As entertaining as rushing through a mob of starved zombies headfirst while wearing a stuffed moose head on your own as a weapon is, replays dive once you memorize the small town and its item locations like the back of your hand. At 400 Microsoft Points, or five dollars, Case Zero is the perfect way to spend a weekend or two dropping handmade Drill Buckets on unsuspecting zombies.

-Arnold B. Carreiro

B Ranking

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero (Xbox Live Arcade)

Developed by Blue Castle Games Inc.

Published by Capcom

ESRB: M for Mature

The Arnold B. Carreiro Rating System

A - Awesome! Why haven't you bought this yet? Go! GameStop doensn't close for another 2 hours!

B - Great game! It'll be something fun to play for a good while. It's better than most games, but shy of perfection for some reason. You should check it out!

C - Meh. It's not a BAD game, nor is it good. Enjoyment may be limited to a certain audience though. Perhaps some aspects of the title are great while others are bogged down by bad design/gameplay/etc.

D - Not too great... Too much of the game lacks polish to be appreciated to the general gaming public, but there might be enough here for someone to enjoy. Maybe...

F - A complete train wreck. Vampire Rain is the last "F" game I've ever played. The bargain bin is too good for an "F" game.

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