Reviews - Xbox 360
Written by Eric Dionne Sunday, September 05 2010 03:30
What can be said about zombies? They are still entertaining, amazingly fun to kill, and still scare the crap out of us when there's hundreds coming at once. With the "Walking Dead" comics being turned into a live action TV series, a new Resident Evil movie next week, and Dead Rising 2 releasing on Sept. 28th, September is a huge month for zombies.
Capcom, in their infinite wisdom, decided to release Dead Rising: Case Zero on August 31st. This 2-hour game serves as a prequel to the upcoming Dead Rising 2. The name "Case Zero" refers to the cases (missions) in which you have to deal with in the game, with the Zero meaning before the first case. Easy enough, right? Well, while this game sometimes feels like a demo with its fairly short play time (and it's always close to 2 hours due to the time limit you are given), there's more than meets the eye.
You are Chuck Greene, a popular Motocross racing champion with a simple goal: protect your daughter Katey at all costs. Katey has been infected by the deadly outbreak and every 12 hours she needs a dose of "Zombrex," the experimental antidote. Case Zero depicts Chuck and Katey stuck at a gas station almost 50 miles outside Las Vegas. Their car has been stolen and now it's up to Chuck to find Zombrex for Katey and get themselves out of there any way they can.
As always in Dead Rising, there are crazies to kill and survivors to save. In Case Zero you fight one such psychopath, and he is pretty tough if you don't have the right plan. The survivors can help you out as always, by earning PP points (experience points used for leveling up), giving you money, and sometimes leading you to other survivors or parts for your motorcycle as well. You see, Chuck decides he's going to rebuild a motorcycle to make it to Vegas, but the only problem is he needs to find parts. That's where the bulk of this 2 hour game takes place.
The controls remain primarily unchanged from the original Dead Rising, with the one exception being that the camera is gone. Since Chuck is not Frank West, America's favorite war covering photojournalist, there is no picture taking to be had. The new mechanic in this game (which will be in Dead Rising 2) is combining weapons. Yes, our main man Chuck is a regular MacGyver. Give him a work bench and some items and BAM, you get some amazing weapons. Some of the crazier ones include a head-exploding bull horn (mix a spray paint can & an orange construction cone) and the dreaded kayak paddle and chainsaw combo. These combinations come as cards that you collect each time you make a new weapon. This way, you can remember what combos exist and make them on the fly when you find a workbench to mix them together.
There are normal weapons, too. The broadsword splits zombies in half, beheads them, or chops off limbs depending on where they come in contact with the blade. There are also things like bow & arrows, guns, sledgehammers and even the good old moose head, which plows through waves of zombies. This all leads to a gory, bloody good time with a high body count.
The game follows the usual Dead Rising formula. You have a certain amount of time to get something done, and if you don't make it, you fail. If it's a main story mission, you fail the game. However, in Case Zero it's more like playing 1 mission and not a whole game. There's not much to worry about failing with the story before 9pm, but it can happen though. Thankfully though, we now have 3 save slots for multiple save files. This way, you won't make that mistake of saving in a spot and then not having time to make it to the next destination like so many of us did in the original Dead Rising. If you do, then reload a previous save and try again. Simple. The first game had cases you could fail right away, but you could still screw around and just have fun killing things until time ran out. I'm sure Dead Rising 2 will do the same thing and then some.
As always there's multiple ending ranks to obtain. I say "ranks" because there's only about 2-3 endings in Case Zero that have actual cinematic sequences, while other times its just subtle things you did or didn't do that determine the letter grade you get for an ending. Fail to give Katey her Zombrex? bad ending. But save all survivors, give her Zombrex, make the motorcycle, fight the psycho and get the hell out of dodge? Good ending. Then there's subtleties in between and I suggest, since this game is not long, to explore them all. This simple formula worked well in Dead Rising, and continues to work in Case Zero and most likely in Dead Rising 2.
It's somewhat odd that the series has always been about restarting the story after you get an ending or die. I mean, you can restart with your stats intact but how often does a game actually prefer that you play a bit and restart, just to know the areas better and have higher stats each time? I played this game 4 times and got all 12 achievements, hit the level cap of 5 and got tons of PP points. This restarting works well in that you do truly learn the best ways to go about the area, learning where everything is, all while mastering new attacks and gaining better attributes. When Dead Rising 2 is released, we can carry over our Case Zero stats, thus starting at Level 5 and not 1. This will help since you are a bit more powerful now, learned all the weapon combos that were in Case Zero, and understand the game play mechanics. The insane zombie killing fun is still here and there are WAY more zombies on screen than ever before. They all look much more varied, even if sometimes it's just a different jacket or hat on the same zombie type; subtle differences still make it seem like they're all completely different.
This game is 100% worth the 400 MS points. It may be 2 hours long, but I've played it a total of 5 times and it was awesome each and every time, especially if you make one of your rounds all about trying every possible item against the zombies. I went around with a Bow & arrow, a bowie knife, and a broadsword and had a blast. Basically, this game serves as an insight into the final product that will be Dead Rising 2. I for one am super excited after having played Case Zero. This game shows us just how epic it will be once Chuck and Katey hit Vegas. I can only imagine the other weapon possibilities, vehicles, Psychopaths, Survivors, and locations that we'll be running through in Dead Rising 2. In short, Case Zero is an amazing taste of what Dead Rising 2 will offer us all come Sept. 28th.