Dead Rising 2: Case West
Because of the drab trappings of a medical facility, the items found in Case West are a far cry from the insane zombie-slaying fare found in each of the previous games
- Some of the interaction between Chuck Greene and Frank West are amusing, the game's only boss battle is entertaining
- The setting is boring, the altered gameplay mechanics make the game worse
The epilogue to Dead Rising 2 is the opposite of what made Case Zero a hit -- it's boring, overpriced, and will leave a sour taste in the mouths of franchise fans.
Dead Rising 2: Case Zero was one of 2010's unlikeliest success stories. What many originally perceived to be nothing more than a glorified demo ended up becoming a sales juggernaut that cunningly served as a selling tool for the retail version of Dead Rising 2. Case Zero was more than just a two-hour chunk of gameplay highlighting the sequel's new features -- the ability to earn achievements and import your character into the retail game ensured the sales success of Dead Rising 2 on Xbox 360. Unsurprisingly, Capcom quickly commissioned another DLC to serve as the game's epilogue, bringing back a familiar face to entice fans of both fully-featured Dead Rising games. For some strange reason, Dead Rising 2: Case West flies against almost everything that made the Case Zero (and the Dead Rising franchise in general) so popular. So what did Case West do wrong, exactly?
All of the Dead Rising releases thus far have succeeded due to the off-kilter locales and the strange items found therein. Whether it was the shopping mall of the original, the ghost town of Case Zero, or the Vegas-esque atmosphere of the sequel, the previous games all had settings that were a blast to explore, easy to memorise, and full of unique weapons. Case West is set in a giant pharmaceutical factory. The ramification of such a boring location is a nasty trickle-down effect that dooms Case West in a variety of ways. Every room in the two-floor laboratory complex looks the same, making navigation difficult and depleting the game of almost any sense of discovery.
Because of the drab trappings of a medical facility, the items found in Case West are a far cry from the insane zombie-slaying fare found in each of the previous games. There are no guitars, swordfish, roulette wheels, or "massagers" to be found during the course of Case West. Instead, the new items are the kind of things you'd find in a laboratory, like beakers, defibrillators, and electrical prods. These lame new items in turn negatively affect Chuck Greene's item combinations -- gone are the likes of knives that attach to boxing gloves, bows that shoot dynamite-laden arrows, and pitchfork-shotgun combos. Such concoctions have been replaced by a handful of creations that simply boil down to "mix electrical item A & B to make a slightly stronger electrical weapon."
The vaunted return of photography isn't done any favours by the samey environments, but the mechanic is dumbed down even further to the point where it's nearly useless. The original Dead Rising encouraged players to seek out strange sights and photograph them, awarding experience points for rare and risky shots. This time around, the grading system has been stripped away, and the only reason to ever take out the camera is when you come across one of ten randomly-marked spots located throughout the facility.
While the teaming of Dead Rising 1 and 2's protagonists (Frank West and Chuck Greene, respectively) is successful from a storyline perspective, even this no-miss addition ends up causing some more faults in Case West. Chief among them is the fact that Frank West is only playable via multiplayer. Said multiplayer has the same core problems born in Dead Rising 2 -- only the first player's progress is saved. While the developers had a reasonable excuse with the previous game (it's very unlikely that two players would choose to play through the dozen-plus hours it takes to complete Dead Rising 2 together), it only takes about two or three hours to see the entirety of Case West's narrative. The developers tried to entice players to join multiplayer by making certain weapon bonuses exclusive to Frank, but it only serves to make single-player playthroughs all the more frustrating.
Regardless of whether you play with one or two players, the crossover comes at a price, as the escorting system that grew by leaps and bounds in Dead Rising 2 has been removed. Instead, you simply find the various lab workers (most of which you'll have to seek out without any clues), after which they find their own way to safety. Part of the fun of Dead Rising 2 was assuming the risks of escorting survivors due to the time it took away from tackling the main missions and the skill needed to keep your ever-growing party alive. Now, they're just another collectible.
Last, but not least is the diminished value of Case West. Case Zero was five bucks and added value to Dead Rising 2 due to the fact that your level and item creation progress carried over. Despite the fact that it ties into both games, your progress in each doesn't affect Case West in the slightest, nor can it be brought back into the other games. At that basic level, the US$10 price tag of Case West is outlandish. When you consider that all of the other Dead Rising games on the Xbox 360 are far more entertaining, it's an open-and-shut case -- this is the least valuable game in the series by a large margin. While there's still fun to be had in slicing, bludgeoning, and shooting zombies, the surrounding elements in Case West are far less conducive to amplifying it. Die-hard Dead Rising completionists need only apply.
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