XBLA review: Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

Chuck Greene and his daughter Katey are on their way to Fortune City when they make a stop in the small town of Still Creek. Host to a typical set of small storefronts, ma and pa restaurants, and a few means of local entertainment, Still Creek spans just over a block’s distance, with a small quarantine zone blocking off the highway. As Chuck steps inside the gas station store to look for supplies, someone hijacks his pickup, taking his much-needed supply of Zombex for Katey along with them. The fact of the matter is that Katey was bitten and infected, but Chuck has thus far prevented her from turning into a zombie by giving her regimens of Zombex medicine – without it, she runs the risk of turning into one of those bloodthirsty creatures, and Chuck runs the risk of losing the one person he still has to hold onto and care for.

Luckily, tracking down a new box of Zombex is the easy task. Chuck’s initial trek outside of the gas station/scrap yard safehouse has him push through a thick horde of infected into the quarantine zone just outside the other end of town. Once he’s nabbed the Zombex, his focus shifts to restoring a motorbike, the pieces for which are scattered about Still Creek’s handful of businesses. Some are already in the possession of other local survivors and can be acquired for money or taken by force, while others require Chuck to scour the interior of some of the larger buildings and access otherwise locked rooms.

There are a little more than a half-dozen survivors that Chuck can choose to aid at his leisure. Some will give him money for his troubles, while others simply reward him with a boost in experience points. As Case Zero lasts approximately an hour and a half for a single playthrough, this may seem a daunting task, but most of these rescue scenarios allow Chuck to easily string multiple survivors along at once, drastically reducing travel time back and forth.

Much like with the full Dead Rising 2 experience, Chuck can craft new, more powerful weapons out of the various tools and firearms he finds lying around Still Creek. This portion of the experience is nowhere near as in-depth as in the main game, but Chuck can still access some of the more entertaining weapons like the Electric Rake, Paddlesaw, and the tried-but-true Spiked Bat. Still, easier-to-locate weapons like the Broadsword and Moose Head can prove just as much fun to use when slicing and dicing the infected or simply mowing them over with brute force.

The only segment where the gameplay becomes notably weaker is during the final minutes when Chuck and Katey make their escape run on the recently-repaired motorbike. It doesn’t control terribly well, and requires you to slow down significantly if you want to make even wide turns through the streets, effectively killing the high that one would expect of an ‘escape run’ scene. However, the rest of this prologue to Dead Rising 2 operates well enough. The other characters are a mildly interesting bunch, and do not share more dialogue than necessary due to the in-game time limit tied to Chuck’s to-do list. There’s a nice sampling of the larger gameplay offered by Dead Rising 2 throughout, and a lot of what constitutes Chuck and Katey’s dynamic shines through in fairly convincing, if not brief, interactions between the two. As for the replay value, it is centered primarily on unlocking 100% of the achievements tied to Case Zero, and a second or third playthrough won't offer anything beyond stacking Chuck's experience points until they cap out at level five.

My rating: 7 (out of 10)*

*(rating applies solely to downloadable content, not its inclusion with the content on the original game disc or other downloadable content)

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