In this newer generation of downloadable content, Capcom has emerged as the king of 3rd party digital downloads. From classics such as Mega Man 9 & 10, gems like the Bionic Commando: Rearmed titles, and unique perspectives like the short but enjoyable Dark Void: Zero, Capcom has found an extremely successful formula for creating hit after hit of downloadable enjoyment. Enter Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, a different approach to their tried and true “classic” formula of DLC, taking the role of a prequel to a highly anticipated upcoming game. Providing a unique interlude between a previous classic and a future game, this prequel gives some insight into the background of the new protagonist, Chuck Greene. And, though the game may have you confused about its identity of demo/side quest/fully fledged game, it finds a way to again redefine the structure of DLC, creating yet another model for successful additional content.
If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix it!
The game begins with a rather lengthy story sequence that’s certainly welcomed by any DLC standards. Pulling up to an abandoned gas station in the city of Still Creek just outside of Las Vegas, players are informed of the outbreak via the blasting radio of Chuck’s truck. A former motocross champion and badass all in one, Chuck has all of the makings of a Dead Rising star with the addition of compassion for his beloved 6-year-old daughter, Katey. Players quickly find out the grim circumstances of this duo, however, as Chuck is forced to give his daughter a shot of medicine every 12 hours to combat the zombie plague that Katey’s partially contracted, having been bit by a zombie. After searching the gas station for any survivors, Chuck is distraught to see his truck stolen by a lurking local, thus stranding him and his daughter without a reliable source of transportation and without the trusted medication that was left in his truck. To make matters worse, this seemingly abandoned town almost immediately becomes overrun by the outbreak of zombies and Chuck and Katey are forced to barricade themselves within the gas station, a makeshift safe house to say the least.
Just like in the previous Dead Rising title, your objective is to mow your way through hordes of zombies to complete different objectives through a developing storyline. However, this time around, your character has more of a motive than just pure survival as keeping his daughter healthy is his utmost concern. Adding a new element of time management not present in the previous game (aside from rescuing the numerous counts of survivors), players must constantly keep track of the time and are forced to revert back to the safe house to give Katey her proper medication every 12 hours with little room for error (not too late, not too soon, but strictly within a 1 hour time frame). So, Chuck leaves Katey at the gas station and immediately heads out in search of more Zombrex around the town, an over-the-counter drug whose marketing strategy boasts a hilariously cheesy replication of current drug commercials (the slogan on the box is: “Keep living your life with Zombrex”).
True to the original, this game retains all of the successful gameplay we know and love. By coupling humor with massive amounts of zombie slaughtering, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero succeeds in melding a lighthearted arcade style of gameplay with the more serious aspects of survival horror (such as frantically saving a group of survivors when given the chance). And, though the story is probably the only portion of the game that retains seriousness throughout, the circumstances and gameplay itself are as lighthearted as ever as players can enjoy mutilating their opposition by any means necessary and all means possible. From chainsaws and pitch forks to bowling balls and poker chips, Chuck has the entire arsenal of weapons and everyday items at his disposal that you would expect from a Dead Rising title.
Modified Zombie Eradication
Aside from the rather robust story for DLC, the other great part of Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is that it serves as an educational tool to the game’s new additions. From the start, players are given access to the work bench, allowing them to combine their weapons with ease, creating even more bizarre yet utterly satisfying weapons to use. Typically combining everyday items with destructive mainstays, players can create an arsenal of over-the-top weaponry to make zombie genocide all the more enjoyable. Thus combining, say a paddle and a chainsaw creates the ever effective paddle saw, allowing you to literally mow through all zombies in your wake, severing their bodies in two.
Remembering a few of the recipes from the E3 demo that I played, I was able to quickly create 4 different super weapons within the first 20 minutes of gameplay (the drill bucket and spiked bat are immediately available whilst the paddle saw and electric rake are easily created after doing a bit of exploring). And, to encourage use of these WMDs, players are rewarded with additional experience for using combo weapons; after finding a combo card, players can create the recipe touting 2x the experience at a minimum, while those wanting to create recipes before finding the card can do so (with a much smaller experience boost). These unorthodox weapons bring a new meaning to using everything at your disposal and push the game’s lighthearted nature even further.
One part of the game that is different from the original title is the scope of the game. Now, obviously a cheaply priced downloadable title is not expected to have an extremely large area to explore; however, the vast area of the mall was an important part of the first game that can’t be reproduced in this game and does change the overall experience. Still, the endless hordes of zombies help to recreate the feel of the series that wasn’t present in the Wii title, Chop Till you Drop despite the smaller town area available for exploration. Overall, the small setting may become a little stale after multiple play-throughs (players can view multiple endings so this is expected) but the overall experience of mutilating zombies in unimaginable fashions is retained. There are the occasional bouts of gameplay variation such as a boss battle at the end and the ability to ride a motorcycle but these are merely small divergences that are overshadowed by the ridiculously addictive arcade-style zombie beat down.
The other part of this small nugget of downloadable enjoyment that I really love is the fact that you can carry your character/item development progress over to the main game once it arrives (up to level 5), rewarding players for their experiences with the prequel. People may see this as a cheap way for Capcom to make an extra $5 but with an entirely separate story, this game is far from that. This is probably one of the best valued DLCs on the market for its amount of gameplay at such a small price (you can and will play through the short gameplay experience a few times to see the different endings) and if you haven’t played the original in a while, just killing the zombies for fun is rewarding enough in itself. All in all, I love what Capcom has done with this game and they continue to push the bar as the premiere 3rd party DLC provider.