Even though things have changed for Capcom's sequel, Dead Rising 2 -- new developer in Blue Castle Games, new protagonist in Chuck Greene and a new venue that swaps out the tried-and-true mall setting for the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas -- it felt very familiar. From the largely unchanged controls to the helpful security guard passing you updates on your walkie talkie (thankfully, this time around the text is actually legible) on to the survivor escort system, Dead Rising 2 is a sequel in the most literal sense.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing. The formula still works -- you find a room filled with zombies and you kill them (again), extracting juicy PP (the game's experience point system for character development) and cash money from each encounter, the latter of which you can use to gamble. Nothing helps one escape the mental stress of fighting for your life like dropping a Benny on the slots, you know.
The controls and the sandbox mission structure (three in-game days to survive again!) haven't changed at all, but Blue Castle saw fit to eliminate the picture-taking system, adding a weapon creation system in its stead. By combining random objects found around the casino, players can create powerful, unique tools to dispatch the undead. Like, combining a car battery and a rake -- the equivalent of a bug zapper for zombies. Then there's the drill bucket, which is literally a bucket with some drills sticking in it. Basically, It's the world's most deadly hat.
Another big change over the first game is the graphics. Dead Rising 2 is a beautiful game,, relying far less on gimmicky motion blur and depth of field effects to get the job done than the first game. The textures really pop (watching Chuck slowly get covered in more and more zombie blood is intense) and the environments are far more expansive and filled with plenty more items to interact with this time around. Then there's the staggering amount of zombies on-screen at once with far less repeating character models, for sure -- to witness Dead Rising 2 is to witness a damn pretty game. Note: that quarter-second slowdown when killing a zombie from the first game was nowhere to be seen in the sequel.
Ultimately, Dead Rising 2's fun comes from the same places it did in the first game. It's still a treat to goof around with all of the weird weapons and dress Chuck up in silly outfits. But the most fun is inventing weapons on the workbench. There's a great pleasure derived from not only seeing a wacky weapon combo on paper, but an even greater pleasure in creating and using said wacky weapon. The idea of knives duct-taped to boxing gloves is great in its own right, but you really can't beat punching a zombie in the face with them.
Dead Rising 2 shambles to Xbox 360 and PS3 on August 31.