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Dead Rising 2 Preview

By Matt Cabral, 5/25/2009

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After years of chugging along on the Resident Evil 5 hype train, Capcom has finally begun teasing their next zombie-slaughtering fest, Dead Rising 2 , sequel to the critical and consumer hit that cribbed heavily from George A. Romero's playbook by placing players in a suburban shopping mall overrun by undead minions. The follow-up retains the core zombie-slaying concept, but ups the ante significantly in some key areas. While the title features a new protagonist (so long, photog Frank West) and fresh setting in the very Vegas-like Fortune City, Capcom is playing many details close to the chest...for now.


What they are talking about is zombies, and lots of 'em. In fact, at a recent guided demo of the game, one of the two main focuses (we'll shed light on the other one in a sec) was the skyrocketing brain-craver count. Like an infomercial pitchman sweetening the deal by doubling the amount of Kinsu knives you get for the “same low price out!”, Capcom producer Keiji Inafune kept teasing the ratcheting zombie count on Fortune City's neon-soaked strip; he first revealed 1000 would appear on-screen at once—doubling the original game's tally—then 3000, then 5000. By the end of the 45 minute demo, a stunning 7000 flesh-eaters were congregating outside the comparatively empty casinos, with barely a frame-rate drop in site. The display was indeed impressive, as the monster mob stretched as far as the eye could see, and even showed signs of life (or death?) that made them look far more animated than the cardboard-y looking spectators that often populate the stadiums in sports games.

Of course, what good is a game packed to the bloody gills with undead menaces if there's nothing interesting to do with them? This would be where we let the leash off Capcom's other big reveal for Dead Rising 2; just like in the first game, this one's all about smashing, bashing, slicing and dicing the infected masses with an arsenal of over 100 weapons that incorporate anything and everything from bar stools and bats to guitars and dumbbells. And, while the sequel will utilize the same “if you can pick it up, you can crack a zombie skull with it” formula, it adds an interesting twist to the makeshift-weapon formula. On top of adding venue-specific skull-crushers like roulette wheels, the title packs in the creative kills with not-your-everyday items. In my demo, for example, I witnessed new hero Chuck Greene grab a propane tank outfitted with spikes, hurl it into a zombie mob, then plug a few rounds into it. As expected, the result was a can't-miss recipe for zombie soup.


Chuck used another one of these spiky tanks—there were several lying around—and swung it melee style through a crowd of shufflers, before sticking it to the back of one especially unlucky freak, and then detonated it from afar. The inventive kills got bloodier, if you can believe that, when Chuck started placing buckets with buzzing drills sticking through their centers, over the heads of unsuspecting infected. Turns out these drill-buckets and spiked tanks were just a tease, though, as Chuck saved the best zombie mulcher for last; grabbing a double-sided kayak oar, with a chainsaw fastened to each end, of course, Chuck tore through hundreds of baddies as he swung the dual buzz-stick like a Jedi Knight, leaving countless limbs in his wake. For the grand finale, he hopped on his dirt bike—apparently Chuck knows his way around the motocross circuit—that had a similar dual-chainsaw set-up lying across the handlebars, and drove up and down the city strip mowing down thousands more (an on-screen counter morbidly tallied the death toll) flesh-hungering freaks.

Stoked by the new focus on makeshift weaponry, but wondering where exactly one finds an oar with a chainsaw attached to either end or a drill-enhanced bucket, I asked Inafune if weapon construction would be a new gameplay mechanic. And, in a not so cryptic way, he responded by tossing my question back at me rhetorically in a way that all but cemented the addition of a new weapon building feature fueling Dead Rising 2's limb-lopping gameplay.


While Inafune's demo was clearly focused on the zombie death tolls and how to deal with them through atypical means, there were a few other hints littering the streets of Fortune City. For one, the series' trademark humor appears to be making a return. If the excessive crazy kills didn't tip this off, then Chuck donning a trophy moose head and using it to ram undead menaces certainly did. The Vegas-like setting, complete with sprawling casino interiors and equally large outdoor areas, also hinted at a playing field much larger than the one encompassed by Willamette Parkview Mall. Through hint-laden discussion, Inafune also teased that something similar to the tension-building 72 hour time frame would return, but that the much-maligned single-save system would most definitely be remedied. It's also looking like Frank West's photo-snapping skills won't translate into Chuck's repertoire, but our new hero will most definitely be packing his own bag of PP-boosting tricks. I look forward to finding out what else Chuck has planned for the invading undead army when Dead Rising 2's team hopefully peels some fresh flesh off this extremely promising project at next month's E3 Expo.


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