Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is kind of difficult to judge. While it is a standalone title, it's not really a full game per se. It is, essentially, DLC for a game that hasn't been released yet, an extension of Dead Rising 2. Of course, no one has had that experience yet, meaning that Case Zero serves double duty as a demo as well. It's an interesting experiment for Capcom and for the industry in general; thankfully for Dead Rising fans, it pays off.
Case Zero takes place three years before the events of Dead Rising 2, in a town called Still Creek a few dozen miles from Las Vegas. It's here that renowned motocross star Chuck Greene and his daughter, Katie, are stranded in the wake of a zombie outbreak and, making things worse, someone made off with Chuck's truck during the panic. Now Chuck has to repair a broken down motorcycle and find a way to keep his undead-bitten daughter from turning.

Luckily, as Chuck tells Katie, "Daddy can fix anything," so all he needs is to find the right parts. The parts, naturally, are scattered all over town, meaning Chuck has to wade through a sea of zombies -- and bring each part back through said sea -- all within a single in-game day. In other words, apart from a slightly different storyline and shorter time limit, the overall thrust of Case Zero is the same as its retail big brother: Kill zombies with makeshift weapons, find Zombrex -- an anti-zombification drug -- for Katie, save other civilians and find a way out of town before the military arrives.


Never make fun of Chuck's outfit. Ever.

The makeshift weapons, which allow Chuck to combine items into powerful zombie death inducers, are what really make Case Zero worth playing. Having spent considerable time with Dead Rising 2, I can tell you that only a small, small selection of the available combinations are represented. While some are more vanilla, others show off the real potential of the system -- you'll never forget, for instance, the first time Chuck tapes together a pitchfork and a shotgun to create the "Boomstick." There aren't a lot of combinations in Case Zero, but it's just enough to whet your appetite for the whole retail enchilada.

Case Zero weighed in at three hours or so my first time through, but there's plenty of reason to wade back into the zombie horde, be it to find more survivors, find more combo weapons, try on new clothes or just explore areas you missed the first time around. Also, thanks to the short length, the love it / hate it save system brought over from the original Dead Rising is much more forgiving.

At five dollars, Case Zero is an easy recommendation for anyone planning to pick up Dead Rising 2 (if you're still on the fence, there's a free trial version). For one low price it manages to offer a hefty slice of what to expect from the full title, fill out the back story of Dead Rising 2, add more depth to the overall experience and, at the very least, give eager fans something to do until Dead Rising 2 hits the shelves.

And seriously, try out the pitchfork-shotgun.


This review is based on review code provided by Capcom. Dead Rising: Case Zero is available on Xbox Live Arcade for $5.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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