Dead Rising was a hard game. Armed with only a single save and several household items of limited durability, it demanded careful inventory and party management for success. You could increase the probability of success by restarting the single player quest with a seasoned Frank West; but even with a longer life bar, more item space and improved knowledge of the Willamette Mall, Dead Rising presented a formidable challenge. At first it was the hundred or so zombies on-screen, but then there were the various psychopaths you encountered on your travels, and the relentlessly slow-witted survivors you could escort back to the Safe Room for more experience points (dubbed PP for some reason). Despite the overwhelming horde of obstacles, each encounter I survived felt like a significant achievement.
Now we're presented with the inevitable sequel. Dead Rising 2 is in some respects more managable than its predecessor. The survivors you encounter are much smarter, and if you give them a weapon, they can be quite a force to be reckoned with. Pathfinding issues are rarely a worry, and seldom will you find them accosted by the undead. The weapon combo system while amusing, also affords players the chance to create zombie-dispatching tools of previously unrivalled power. Even the story missions (Case Files) have failed to present a challenge on par with that of the original. It all starts to slide quickly however when you encounter psychopaths, the Dead Rising franchise's equivalent of a boss fight. These encounters have escalated from tense to just plain cheap and painful. I've only managed to best one of these challenges so far, and even having restarted the quest with a reasonably strong Chuck Greene, I have been unable to put a dent in the few psychos I've come across. I can't slow these guys down with a homemade rocket launcher, the nail bat (my weapon of choice), or even the Exsanguinator. For those of you wondering, the Exsanguinator is a combination of a vacuum cleaner and saw blades. I'm too slow; and to add to the aggravation, even if I do manage to land a hit, it amounts to very little.
After bleeding through a few of these fights I started to realise that almost nothing had changed since the first instalment. Slightly better graphics and crazy weapons are great, but this is the same game I played when I first made the jump to current generation consoles (specifically, the Xbox 360). You could argue that Dead Rising 2 has competitive and cooperative multiplayer options, but these have failed to keep me fully engrossed. The competitive multiplayer feels like a hyper-violent version of the cheese-prone minigame farce, Fusion Frenzy. The connection quality wasn't horrible, but the action is so bland that this would not be an issue regardless. The only reason I would recommend you compete in Terror is Reality, is to earn money you can use in the single player adventure. I've only dabbled in cooperative play lightly, but I felt like a shepherd, helping to guide AI survivors with the host player. Maybe there would be more enjoyment found in abandoning the missions and proceeding to slay zombies en masse. I'll give it another go in future, and I swear I'll try to be more irresponsible when playing with others.
Even with all of the quirks and frustrations, I am still enjoying Dead Rising 2. That being said though, I am somewhat puzzled by the generally favourable critical opinion surrounding this title.
Anyone else joining the wholesale zombie slaughter? If not, how are you keeping busy?