The event is a junket unlike any other at Tokyo Game Show this year. Capcom (with the help of Microsoft) took over a restaurant/bar in Ebisu, promising free food and drinks to all attendees -- with the promise of a two-of-a-kind yellow jacket at stake for the person who wins tonight's Dead Rising 2 mutliplayer tournament.
Yeah, multiplayer. Long hinted at, we finally had a chance to play the game's competitive multiplayer mode. It certainly wasn't what we were expecting. You take control of one of four participants in a zombie-ridden game show called "Terror Is Reality." Players will compete in four different minigames, each of which takes a different spin on Dead Rising's zombie-smashing gameplay.
The first game is Ramsterball, which places you in a giant hamster ball (think American Gladiators) and prompts you to roll over the greatest number of zombies. To keep things interesting, one player has the ability to activate special pillars that crush zombies. The game randomly assigns one player to have the power, but anyone else can ram into the player to steal the ability. After about a minute, the points are tallied and carried on to the next round.
Next up is Headache, in which you're equipped with dynamite and a few buckets. There are zombies scattered around the small arena, and players can plop buckets over the heads of the undead. After five buckets, you can use the stick of dynamite to blow all your victims up. Now, what's the point of this? It was unclear at first, but we discovered a giant red button that instantly kills all bucket-headed zombies. Those kills translate to points. Essentially, you'll want to bucket as many zombies as possible, while killing your opponents' bucket-headed zombies with dynamite. Hit the red button when you think you'll score the most number of points, and they'll carry on to the next round.
The third game is called Pounds of Flesh -- you'll have to use your antler helmets (yes, you read that right) to flip zombies over on top of a weighing platform. Players can either tap X to thrust the antlers, or hold X to charge. The bodies should go flying, and any that successfully land on the scale add to your score. Should you run out of zombies, you can hit the "Reload" button, which drops in a fresh batch of zombies, much like a bowling lane's pin machine would do.
Finally, you enter Slicecycles, the only game that determines the final victor. The points total from the past three rounds simply determine who will be able to go first in the endgame. In this mode, players will ride dual chainsaw-equipped motorcycles. Obviously, the goal is to run over as many zombies as possible, with bigger ones offering bonus points. The initial first-place player gets all the time the round offers, while subsequent places will be delayed by a few seconds. Ultimately, this becomes inconsequential, as the "bonus round" floods the screen with zombies (and ground-pounding death traps). These last seconds offer so many points, that all of the round (and game)'s earlier efforts go to waste.
"Terror is Reality" is an over-the-top parody of game show culture, and seems like a reasonable extension of the Dead Rising universe (especially considering the ending of the first game). But is it a bit too zany and over-the-top? The immature humor becomes immediately tiresome, and we have doubts regarding the shallow construction of the minigames in general. We'll have to see more of the multiplayer mode before drawing conclusions about its longevity ... but on the plus side, you do kill an awful lot of zombies.