Review: Dead Rising 2

Chuck Greene is a resourceful sort, not content with handguns, sniper rifles and chainsaws. Chuck likes to put plenty of imagination into his weaponry. It’s that imagination, and the necessity for experimentation, that shines through Dead Rising 2.

This is not the prettiest game you’ll ever play, it’s a touch rough around the edges and some of the character modelling and animations (particularly facial animation) looks dated by a few years. The voice work is regularly a little bit stilted and often overacted (perhaps by design) when it’s present at all – much of the dialogue is done via text-box.

The plot synopsis is easy (and spoiler-free). Chuck Greene is an ex motocross rider with a wife who went down in the zombie plague outbreak (which has spread from the outbreak featured in the first Dead Rising) and a daughter (Katey) who has been bitten. You find yourself in Fortune City taking part in a brutal zombie-killing reality TV show called Terror is Reality. This show involves riding a motorcycle, with chainsaws on each handlebar, through crowds of zombies. It also serves as the multiplayer side of the game.


When the show is over it becomes apparent that Fortune City has fallen to the outbreak and is rapidly filling with zombies. Chuck, controlled by you (with a co-op partner if you wish), must murder his way through swathes of zombies in order to find the Zombrex drug his daughter needs in order to stave off the zombie parasite. There will also be side missions involving the rescue of survivors and some further storyline developments that require Chuck to deviate from his search for Zombrex. You have seventy-two hours until the military arrive and you must get Katey her Zombrex every 24 hours between seven and eight AM.

One potential stumbling block for Dead Rising 2 is that it’s not mechanically like anything else. You might expect to be able to play through the game, returning to check points when you die and generally being a hero and saving the day. That’s not how Dead Rising 2 (or its predecessor) is built. The aim is to fight through the game, gaining PP points which eventually level up your character. Then when you die, and you will inevitably “fail” the game in some way, you start playing again from the beginning with your pre-levelled character.

The first time through it is hard work. You don’t have much health and you only have space to carry a few weapons. You will not rescue as many survivors as you want, you will probably die (although the three save-game slots help here) and you will most likely finish the game (remember, seventy-two hours until the military arrive? That’s your deadline) in what most would perceive as failure.

The game has multiple endings and ratings for how well you’ve done so far. This means that the replay value, and there is a mountain of that, is in repeated run-throughs of the story in an effort to save more survivors, find more Zombrex and kill more zombies in a more imaginative way.

Survivors are one of the keys to success with Dead Rising 2. The more you rescue, the better you will rank when the game reaches its climax. Unfortunately, they often need an overly long session of text-box conversation in order to cajole them into letting you rescue them. Once they are following you they will often shoot you or each other with their weapons or manage to fall a few yards behind and not follow you through the doors – and one of the many loading screens – to the next area. This forces you to go back through the door – and overly-long loading screen – in order to collect them again and repeat your transition.

This brings us neatly on to the weapons. Much has been made, in early previews, of the combo weapons system. Essentially, there are multiple items you can combine at any of the numerous workbenches situated around the game-world in order to equip yourself with better, bigger or just funnier weapons. A canoe paddle with a chainsaw on each end, a teddy bear that acts as a sentry or a gun that freezes zombies.

The results of the discoverable Combo Cards are often bizarre but always effective and amusing. Unfortunately, the game rewards you more for not working out what might go with what. You will earn much greater amounts of PP if you use a combo weapon made after discovering its card than you will if you just work out what to combine. So you’re encouraged not to experiment. This is perhaps a measure to stop players remembering their combos for subsequent run-throughs but it still feels like I’m not supposed to use my own imagination.

Much of the appeal of Dead Rising 2 is in the humour. You can use almost everything you might find in the casino town shopping district as a weapon. You can beat a zombie to death, eventually, with a newspaper. On top of that, you may find numerous outfits around the game-world which you can then dress Chuck in. You might like to fight zombies while dressed as a cowboy or in a raccoon hat.

It’s charming, for sure, but it also feels perfectly pitched at the target audience for this game. The lingering camera pans on female character’s legs and the purposefully gauche humour further hint at a certain target audience and we have to admit: it is funny to watch a man dressed in a pink waitress’ dress beating in a zombie’s brains with a gumball machine.


  • It has a unique play style, encouraging repeated play-throughs.
  • Combo weapons are a great idea well imagined.
  • Not afraid to be puerile in its humour.


  • Awkward voice acting.
  • Could look better.
  • Too much loading and clunky text dialogue.

Dead Rising 2 is a game that’s all about fun. The narrative is not particularly strong or engaging but then, it doesn’t need to be. This game wears its heart on its sleeve in terms of what it’s all about and is entirely unapologetic in the pursuit of base humour and over the top violence. If you can live with the over-keen loading screens and the infuriating lack of sense from the survivors you attempt to rescue then you should enjoy it for many hours.

Score: 7/10



  1. I thought the visuals were a little underwhelming when i saw some gameplay footage recently. That disappointed me as i was looking forward to this game and expected better visuals. I might still pick it up though as the fun to be had is quite apparent but probaly not a day one purchase.

    • Visuals imo are a luxury that genuinely great games can get by without. However, crappy voice acting and loading intermissions are absolute game breakers for me. Really hoped for more with this title.

  2. Sounds like Just Cause 2 in that it falls short in some areas but makes up for it by just being fun in that way that a lot of modern games seem to have forgotten.

    • That’s a fair comparison actually. It’s got things I’d like to change but then it’s got things that you just can’t get from any other game.

    • I think that this’ll be different to Just Cause 2 in the fact it’s fun with some boundaries, Just Cause 2 just had too much, well, nothing inbetween the fun. With this the fun will be everywhere in lovely zombie form.

  3. I bought this earlier today, can’t wait to get home now !

  4. Nooo!!! I was hoping for a 10/10 considering some of the previous reviews (inc Halo) but after reading it I feel the things that let it down are areas that I don’t think are too important, particularly the visual side of things. So long as it’s as fun as the first (which it sounds like it is) then it will be my game of the year.

    • Firstly, thanks for reading the review and understanding that you can gather from the text much more than a simple number at the end can ever tell you.
      Secondly, yes, it has fun by the bucketful and if you liked the first Dead Rising but fancy something a little bit crazier, with smoother movement and more variation then this is an ideal game for you.

    • It’s very similar to the first game, so if you like that then you’ll like this, I think.

      • Cheers. This sounds exactly what I was after. Out of interest how much fun is the co-op part of it. Does it make it even more fun or just annoying and is the co-op on and offline?

      • @ stonyk

        The co-op is online only I believe. The host is the one who saves the progress. The person who joins gets any stats earnt (PP, cash, combocards etc), saved whilst in co-op, but no. of zombies killed is not saved.

        Also, any cash earnt in 4-player can be used towards items in single-player.

  5. “Want anything from the shop?”

    • Cornetto
      Picked this up earlier, along with F1 2010. May be a while before I actually get around to playing it though (what with my ever increasing game backlog).

      • Sweet, now let’s show the cartoon kart champ how to race…joking dude, ace choice of game.

  6. You know, the subtitles of some of the stories here at TSA are enough to make you read sometimes, this was one of those times.

    But about the game, I don’t know if I would be stumping up the cash straight away to pay for it seeing as it doesn’t look like anything has been improved from the first version. As it stands I won’t have my console again till next summer so we’ll see then what it actually offers.

  7. Sounds good, might give this a rent.

  8. Anyone else having issues with blank (black screen) cut scenes? I can hear audio, see friends loggin on etc but no idea what’s being shown? On a slim PS3, latest FW, installed the v1.01 patch?

    • Not me, works perfect here!

  9. Your score is perfect, its even what I gave in my head in anticipation of a TSA review. I now understand why it seems such a slog to get anywhere and do anything till you level up and replay and replay. Now im prepared to fail and do it all again in knowledge of knowing im not that crap at games. If I had rented it,it would have been sent back in the post by now just out of Mehness of the game. I may just go and have fun with it now.

  10. It took me ages to work it the relevance of the sub heading :)

Comments are now closed for this post.