One thing that hasn't changed is the leveling up system, perhaps the most controversial element in Dead Rising. You start with a low-leveled Chuck, a slow-moving lug with very little health and a tiny inventory. The idea is to get as far as you can with that character, earning experience for each zombie you kill and survivor you save. And when you eventually die in the most gruesome way possible, the idea is to start the entire game over again.
I know that sounds counterproductive, but that's the gimmick behind Dead Rising. When you start over you retain all of your experience, levels and upgrades. It means that this time around you will have a fighting chance against the hordes of zombies. Plus, you'll already know where people are and where some of the secrets are. The enjoyment of the game depends entirely on how many times you have started over. By the third or fourth time you may have what it takes to discover who framed Chuck and do something about it.
Think of Dead Rising 2 as a job. You know who you have to save, when all of the events are and where you will need to go. How you use the allotted time is up to you, so executing a well thought-out plan is essential. Unexpected surprises will pop up from time to time, but if you are good at time management and keeping balancing escort missions, you shouldn't have too much trouble making it through the 72 hours ... and beyond.
Even though the core mechanics haven't changed in any noticeable way, I feel that the quirks are a bit more accessible this time around. For one thing, Fortune City is significantly more interesting than the Willamette Mall. Also, the story is actually captivating. While the storyline in the first game felt like an afterthought, here it's fully realized and generally exciting. Better still, there are twists and turns around every corner. And just when you think the story is over, there's a whole new case to solve.
The one thing that Dead Rising always had going for it was the diversity in weapons and items. Because the game takes place in a commercially-minded city full of malls and casinos, Chuck has an almost endless supply of wacky items to use against the zombie outbreak. I'm not just talking about guns and baseball bats, but also CDs, marbles, lawnmowers, water guns, giant dice, soccer balls and skateboards. And that's just the beginning of the long list of items free for your taking. You might not think a simple shower head would be effective when fighting a zombie, but shoving it in their soft head will spray blood everywhere. You better stand back.
The biggest change to this sequel involves the way you use and collect items. This time around you can do a lot more than fight off attackers with a baseball bat; you can combine it with another item and create a super weapon. Want to supercharge that bat? Why not hammer some nails into it. Wheel chairs can be combined with a car battery to create an electric chair. Take a pair of boxing gloves and pour on the lighter fluid, sudden you have deadly flaming gloves. That piping and fire cracker sure do look innocent on their own, but put them together and you have a rocket launcher. The game is full of all sorts of crazy combo weapons. I had just as much fun thinking up different ideas as I did actually playing the story. Some of these lead to some humorous (and bloody) kills.
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