Game: Dead Rising 2: Case West
Format: Xbox 360
Developer: Blue Castle Games
Following on directly from one of the endings of Dead Rising 2 – curiously the game indicates that the bad ending is the canonical ending – Case West features a team up between Dead Rising 2 hero Chuck Greene and the protagonist of the original Dead Rising, photographer Frank West.
Rather than taking place inside a mall, or the deserted town setting of Dead Rising Case Zero, Case West is set in a secret underground facility, the source of Dead Rising 2′s Zombie Outbreak. The underground facility is chocked full of zombies and a small army of private security that will do everything they can to stop your progress. Our intrepid heroes set out to uncover the secrets of the facility in order to clear Chuck’s name and bring those responsible for the massacre at Fortune City to justice.The return of Frank West is something that will no doubt please fans of the series, although the only way you can play as him is by playing online co-op. The host of the game will be in control of Chuck, while player two will control Frank. Frank’s move set from Dead Rising remains intact for the most part, with the only noticeable omission being his gruesome zombie disembowelment move.
One downside to playing as Frank is that you are unable to save your progress through the story, and while you can retain the experience points that you earn, that’s about all that you retain from playing the game online as the second player. Another problem is that when playing online should the main player choose to save their progress then player two invariably looses connection from the game.
Gameplay remains mostly unchanged from the previous Dead Rising Games – both Chuck and Frank have to battle their way through a legion of zombies using whatever weapons they can find. Your typical weapon will range from every day objects such as plant pots, chairs, or planks of wood, to more traditional weapons such as machine guns, grenades, and axes. As with Dead Rising 2 certain items can be combined at work stations to create even more deadly combo weapons. Items that can be combined are helpfully marked with a blue icon, meaning it is always clear what you can use and what you cannot.
As well as the combo weapons from Dead Rising 2, Case West includes a number of new brutal weapons, including my personal favourite combo weapon that is made by combining a vial of chemicals and a syringe gun. This creates a dart launching gun that causes zombies to start vomiting before exploding in a shower of gore and guts. As well as offering obscenely brutal kills, killing enemies with combo weapons gives out huge rewards in the form of experience points. By collecting enough points you are able to level up, which unlocks new combat moves, increases your stats, and allows you to hold more items.
The one major addition to the gameplay is the photographic element from Dead Rising 1. However the photography is not as vital a component as it was in Dead Rising 1. The photography in Case West merely offers up a way of earning extra experience points by photographing incriminating evidence found within the bunker. However there is no real indication as to where these specific shots are, so it is very much a case of trial and error, and comes across as feeling a little hollow.
As is the tradition with Dead Rising, in order to progress through the story you must manage your time effectively. You will be given a specific mission and a set time limit in which to complete it. Unlike in the other Dead Rising games I personally found that there was plenty of time to complete each of the main objectives, especially in co-op, and as such felt the game was substantially easier than previous Dead Rising games. Compounding this decrease in difficulty is the fact that survivors are easier than ever to save; in previous Dead Rising games, upon finding a survivor, you would need to guide the survivors to the safe room, protecting them from sea of zombies. More often than not these survivors were dumber than a sack of hammers and saving them proved to be a stressful experience.
This is not the case in Case West. Saving survivors revolves around fetching a specific weapon that the survivor requires to escape, such as a machine gun, or a lightsabre, and then watching them go on their merry way. Some will welcome this change, but I personally quite enjoyed the challenge of escorting survivors to safety in previous Dead Rising games.
As for the story, Case West ties together the events of the original Dead Rising with the events of Dead Rising 2 in a satisfactory way. The game ends on a cliffhanger that leaves things open for a sequel and fans of the series will doubtlessly want more.
Graphics: 4/5 The graphics are exactly the same as the graphics in Dead Rising Case Zero and Dead Rising 2. Some of the character models might look a little fuzzy, but when you consider that there are hundreds of characters on screen at any time this is to be expected.
Sound: 3/5 Completely competent music compliments the B-Movie style voice acting. If you’ve ever played a Dead Rising game then you will know what to expect.
Gameplay: 3/5 Case West takes the time management based gameplay of Dead Rising 2 and adds a fairly basic photographic element. The photography is fairly unimportant, as you are never required to do anything with it. Survivor saving also has been stripped down, taking away the need to escort survivors to safety. Some will welcome this change, but I personally was disappointed by this.
Longevity: 4/5 Completing every story mission will take about 3 hours – however in order to complete every objective, including saving all survivors, completely levelling up, and finding all photographic spots, will likely take three or four play throughs.
Overall: 4 Zombie Heads in a Jar out of 5
Dead Rising 2: Case West takes the baton from the last downloadable game, Dead Rising 2 Case Zero, and runs with it. By adding in online co-op, more tasks, and a more in depth story that will appeal to fans of the series they have created a very strong game. However hardcore fans of the series may find the game a little too easy, considering the reputation the series has for being incredibly difficult.
Dead Rising 2: Case West is available to download on Xbox 360 for 800 Microsoft Points (about £6.80). As of writing there is no planned release on other formats.