I bought Dead Rising 2 on launch day, which was 2 weeks ago today. In that time, I've completed the game 5 times, gotten 41 of the 50 achievements, and pretty much done everything there is to do in the game (with the exception of multiplayer). I played the game on Xbox 360, but I suspect a lot of what I say below applies to the PC version as well. So here are my thoughts on the game:
When I first started playing this game, I was very, very frustrated. A year or so back I told myself that I would not play games in higher difficulties because most are a test of frustration than of any true skill. Because of this, I nearly stopped playing DR2. However, instead I decided to try one thing before giving up: ignoring the clock.
You see, in DR2 there is a clock ticking away in the background, counting down 72 in-game hours (each minute of which lasts about 10 seconds). During this countdown at specific intervals, missions will pop up that require you to either go through a story-based mission, or to save a survivor somewhere in Fortune City (a fictional, Las Vegas-like city). What I did was to ignore the main story missions, and only save what survivors I can get to.
Instead, I decided to focus on leveling up my character. In DR2, every zombie you kill, every interaction with the environment, every psychopath (optional, boss-type enemies) you kill nets you PP (Prestige Points). When you gain enough PP you will level up. Leveling up increases your characters stats, unlocks a new skill move, or unlocks a combo card (which details how to create specific combo weapons, explained below), very similar to many RPG's. The stats you gain are one of 5: Attack, Speed, Health, Item Slots, and Throw Range. Each of these can greatly increase your enjoyment of the game when leveled up high enough (especially the health and item slots stats).
Due to my focus on leveling up, I "completed" the game and got the C ending while being at level 38 (out of 50). On my second playthrough, things were much more manageable. I wasn't dying as often, I was getting to where I needed quicker, I was saving the survivors, I was killing zombies by the hundreds, and I was really having fun. I beat the game my second time and got the S ending (the best ending), saved every survivor, and unlocked a few achievements along the way.
For those of you who haven't played the original, DR2 takes place in what amounts to being a series of malls. In these malls are hundreds of objects, each of which can be picked up and used either as a weapon against the zombie hordes or as food to replenish your health. What DR2 does differently, however, is that it allows you to combine specific items together to create combo weapons. I think these combo weapons are the greatest thing about the game, as you'll randomly pick up items to try and see if they can be combined. You also get combo cards which detail how to create specific combo weapons (thereby reducing the guessing game a bit) by leveling up, saving survivors, or finding the cards hidden throughout Fortune City. Some of the combo weapons are outrageous, hilarious, and outright deadly. I won't spoil any of them, but trust me when I say that it's worth playing this game for the combo weapons alone.
In comparison to DR1, I'd say the game is easier (the psychopaths in the original were much harder, but the zombies are pretty much unchanged... for the most part), there is no camera component anymore (it was replaced by the combo weapons system, and to be honest I don't really miss it), and the story isn't as complex in DR2.
There are still some very frustrating things about DR2, however, that may turn off some gamers. These include:
As I was playing through the game, I couldn't help but think just how far behind Japanese developers are in comparison to western developers. Sure, DR2 is fun and addicting, but there is a level of polish that is apparent in many high-profile western games that is simply missing from a game like this. I know that DR2 was developed by Blue Castle Games, which is based in Canada, but the Japanese influence can clearly be felt (especially considering how little the gameplay changed from the original). For example, there is a loading sequence in between every section of Fortune City (of which there are 7), and since you're traveling between them many, many times throughout the game, the loading screen can start to really frustrate you. The shooting mechanics are also ancient in a post-Gears of War world. Also, for anyone who doesn't take the time to try and understand the clock system and plan out what they'll do in advance, the game can be unplayable. I really hope Japanese developers start to work more on making their games less frustrating, otherwise I think I'll skip out on any potential sequels.
Overall, I'd give the game a 4 out of 5, simply because the parts that work, work really well. I'm planning on playing the multiplayer more, playing through the main story once more in co-op, and unlocking all of the remaining achievements (including the "kill 72,000 zombies" achievement).
I was absolutely appalled at the job they did porting this. Completely, utterly fucking appalled. Want to remap your keyboard keys? Prepare to open two text documents and decode the completely not-straight forward file formating. There's so much shit wrong with this game as a PC release, I didn't even have the patience to "preview" a copy, that's how poorly they did.
I've heard it's fun, but this game is an example of the WORST parts of the console/PC porting debacle. I'm not paying for a game that put minimal effort into making it functional for the PC. The damn game doesn't even accept any 3rd party controllers, ONLY the 360 controller.
I know this sounds unreasonably angry, but if I had spent money on Dead Rising 2, I'd be one incredibly pissed off PC gamer. Games that are ported as badly as DR2 are why I still use Bitorrent, because I'd have felt insulted if I'd spent money on this.
The fact they ported in the first place supprised me (in a good way) but of course no one seems to care about PC anymore apart from Blizzard. I mean both the big pc strat (not RTS) games this year have been total faliures in multiplayer at least. Everything else seems to be a port (and the clear winners are Ubisoft consistently dilivering high quaility ports on PC - even with thier DRM) or a shoddy port.
Only Blizzard has delivered tripple A quality on PC exclusive this year.
Also I have bought DR2 on PC, not played it yet so I cant talk about that yet but I know going in its not going to be in any a polished western exprience. Then again... have you seen Final Fantasy XIVX2 (the new MMO)? OMG WHAT A POS LMAO!
To be fair, BioWare also tends to put a lot of love into the PC versions of their games. For the most part, however, the majority of cross-platform games are basically developed such that the game is exactly the same on all platforms, which always ends up shafting PC users. Just take a look at the default low resolution textures in Fallout 3 - game was developed for the 360, and the PC version is exactly the same. Even the control scheme wasn't improved to take advantage of the PC's capabilities.
DICE's Bad Company 2 is also a worthy PC game, even though it has console versions, but most other shooters these days are also consolized (see Modern Warfare 2, Medal of Honor).
It's surprising Capcom would get lazy like this, as they had been doing pretty good with PC ports for a while. But unfortunately it seems like any multiplatform game is generally better played on consoles for the most part. There are exceptions that are actually better on PC due to improvements (the recent Darksiders offered better graphics than consoles, without any bugs or control issues) or modding potential (I pity anyone who bought any Bethesda RPG or Bioware title on a console, since they're getting half the game without mods).
I broke down and bought a PS3 not so much for exclusives, though that was certainly a factor, but because many great multiplatfrom have horrible PC ports. Saints Row 2 for example is actually a really fun game, but PC gamers would never know that because their port of the game barely even works. It's funny hearing 'PC Gaming is dead' from big publishers who release rushed PC ports and wonder why PC game sales are lower.
I brought the PC version of this game after playing Case Zero and despite what is said above I think its a very good port since all of the main technical weaknesses of the 360 version aren't applicable to the PC version. However, I had to use a workaround to get my 360 controller working with the game despite the fact that the controller is supposedly supported by default.
Anyway, I'm a big fan of the series - including its much-berated 'time limit.'
Yeah, I'm not making any claims as the quality or fun of the game itself....but man, the RAGE I felt when I saw what they expected you to do to get away from their default WASD configuration, or to remap the mouse, or the fact that there are like 4 different modes you need to remap ALL keys for....was instantaneous. Gamers often say that PC versions feel like an after thought....but in the case of DR2, it really seems true. The keymap files look like they were dumped straight from a compiler into .txt file after being ripped from the 360 code.
Well, DR2 definitely seems like a "do as little as possible" sequel. The game, technologically, has not changed at all. It's like Capcom decided "we already have an engine, models, and art, let's just reuse as much of it as possible to make a sequel." The same problems that existed in the first game continue to exist in the second, with only minor changes to the actual gameplay mechanics here and there.
I bought DR2 for the X-Box 360 and was very hesitant to purchase it because of the stress and frustration the first game caused. I was reassured that you could ignore the clock and was eventually required to do so in the beginning of my first game. That honestly was when the game became fun. Multiplayer doesn't seem completely polished, they could have implemented the bonus DLC differently, and there are certainly shortcomings but the game is FUN and enjoyable.
I don't mind it that they reused the old engine and graphics because, honestly, the engine is pretty satisfactory. I'm a firm believer in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" because you'll just waste time and probably break things in the process. The graphics looks better, the controls are better, weapons are more fun, and the annoying issues with the first game have been fixed. Sure, they didn't put as much work into it as they would if they made a brand new game but that's getting to be rudimentry to design.
What I wouldn't give for some old classic games to just be re-made for modern technology and not completely re-invisioned (Master of Orion, X-COM, Jagged Alliance). Sometimes an old design is more then enough and a new design can crash a series (MOOIII).
That being said I will expect a lot more from Dead Rising 3. They should, by then, have a significant engine upgrade or a completely new engine, more items, in-depth character customization (let me play my own character, FFS), and a more open-ended plot with less damn timers.
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