Dead Rising 2 (Review)

“A playful zombie game that most gamers should get their hands on.”

If there’s one thing that is hard to do wrong, it’s zombies games. I’ve played plenty games that star the shambling undead, and very few have been anything less than average. Dead Rising 2, from Blue Castle and Capcom, is not just a fun zombie game but a fantastic one.

As someone who never played the original Dead Rising due to not having a 360, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. All that I was aware of was that this game was supposedly very tongue in cheek, excessively gory yet hilarious at the same time. While the story behind Dead Rising 2 is certainly very serious, the way in which the game presents itself is anything but. Think Shaun of the Dead, only without the silly jokes and with a strong and masculine lead.

Dead Rising 2 throws you in control of ex-motocross ace Chuck Greene, who is taking part in a reality show called Terror is Reality so that he can get some money to purchase Zombrex for his daughter Katey. What is Zombrex? In a nut shell, it is over the counter medication that people who have been bitten by zombies can take daily to stave off becoming a zombie themselves. Katey was once bitten by a zombie, and as a result Chuck has had to give her a shot of Zombrex each and every day since the accident.

The game show that Chuck takes part in, Terror is Reality, is essentially a show in which contestants kill zombies on bikes that have chainsaws attached to them (called slicecycles). The winner is the contestant who kills the most zombies. The player gets to control Chuck during the game show, which is the first time you get to do so. It is not a mandatory part of the game and can be skipped, but it’s best not to do so for story purposes.

Anyway, disaster strikes as somebody lets the zombies loose after the show. Security footage shows that Chuck himself did it, which we know is a lie since we were controlling him the entire time. After rescuing Katey and fleeing from the building, Chuck finds the entire city (called Fortune City) overrun. After finding his way into a safehouse, the objectives of the game are laid out for you, and then you get free control to do anything and go anywhere. While the game is an open world sandbox game, the objectives are quite rigid. Inject Katey with Zombrex each morning (you have to find Zombrex throughout the city), find out who framed Chuck and clear his name, and rescue survivors that you find throughout Fortune City.

Finding out who framed Chuck and then working to clear his name is essentially the main story of the game and is provided to you in the form of “cases” (like detective work). The story is pretty linear if all you do is follow that, but you are perfectly free to muck up the story and miss cases. This just means that you won’t get a good ending when you beat the game, and will then be allowed to restart from the beginning with everything you’ve earned (levels, attacks, combo cards, and so forth).

Rescuing survivors is a pretty big part of the game as well, as saving them will net you lots of PP (prestige points), which are essentially experience points. Earn a certain amount and Chuck will gain a level, just like in an RPG. Leveling up will grant Chuck one or two bonuses each level, such as an extra life bar, a new attack, or increased speed. Survivors are pretty fun to rescue, as you have to guide them back to the safehouse on your own. Their AI isn’t too bad and, if you arm them with a weapon, their chances of being grabbed by zombies is reduced greatly. Some survivors will refuse weapons though, or will even need to be carried. Many survivors will also ask you to do something before agreeing to go to the safehouse. For example, one survivor is starving and wants to eat something first so you have to find some food for him before he agrees to follow you to the safehouse, while an embarrassed female survivor in her undergarments will only go with you if Chuck strips to his underwear as well. You will learn about potential survivors from Stacey, a character who texts Chuck and tells him what to look out for in Fortune City. She’ll often tip the player off with locations of survivors or things worth checking out, and Chuck will have a set amount of time to look into Stacey’s findings.

Between zombies and a few regular human enemies, there is a type of enemy called a psycho. Psychos are people who have gone insane from the zombie outbreak and are, most of the time, extremely difficult to kill and will trample over you with ease. Since you are allowed to restart the story at any time and keep your abilities and stats, it is best to leave psychos until you are certain that you will be able to take them down.

Going back to zombies, it is impressive how many can appear on the screen at any one time. It’s not uncommon for there to be well over a hundred zombies on your screen, provided you’re not in a very cramped location. This game doesn’t hesitate to give you the full zombie apocalypse atmosphere, and it shows. Unfortunately with so many zombies on screen at once, it’s easy to see a few clones shambling around. Even still, it seems that Blue Castle did a good job of keeping identical zombies to a minimum, as it seems like there are several dozen different zombie models to encounter. The graphics in Dead Rising 2 may not be pushing any boundaries, but they certainly suffice and the diversity among the zombies is appreciated.

In terms of weapons, it is pretty safe to say that anything that is not nailed down can probably be picked up and used as a weapon by Chuck. Common weapons include baseball bats, crowbars, fire axes, and sledgehammers. Chuck can use a few obscure items as weapons as well, such as golf clubs complete with golf balls, robot teddies, fuzzy dice, and pineapples. Pretty much anything in the game world can be wielded by Chuck, which makes exploring in Dead Rising 2 a lot of fun. Fortune City may not cover a lot of ground, but there are so many shops and rooms to check out that it feels so much larger than it really is.

Chuck can also find combo cards, which teaches him how to combine items to make special weapons. At the beginning they are rather simple, such as the baseball bat with nails in it, but eventually Chuck can do things such as combine a flashlight with gems to make, well, a lightsaber. It may not be very realistic, but realism should not be expected from a game that treats urinals as save points! It’s worth noting that the weapons Chuck makes are, most of the time, exceptionally powerful. Even the basic baseball bat with nails is a very deadly weapon that can be obtained very easily.

Also worth noting is the multiplayer. Dead Rising 2 offers two forms of multiplayer. First, there is the standard co-op mode in which you can hop into another person’s game as they play through the main story. Only the host’s story will progress, but both players in the co-op game will acquire money and PP. It’s a fun mode, and it is certainly very enjoyable causing havoc with another player in the casinos and malls of Fortune City. The zombies really don’t stand a chance against two Chucks!

The second multiplayer mode is Terror is Reality, the game show that Chuck contested in. In Terror is Reality, four players are pitted against each other in goofy minigames that all involve zombies being killed, maimed, or even just played with. One minigame involves sniping zombies that appear in random doors in front of the players, so it’s like whack a mole with guns. Another minigame forces players to don caribou antlers, which they use to throw zombies onto weights. Heavier zombies award players with more points. There are probably about a dozen different minigames in Terror is Reality to play, and fortunately most of them are somewhat enjoyable. Another bonus to playing Terror is Reality is that all of the prize money you earn playing the minigames can be transferred to the singleplayer game. Considering I’ve never finished Terror is Reality with less than $20,000, it’s pretty easy to rack up money fairly quickly which makes the minigames pretty beneficial to play.

Overall, Dead Rising 2 is a very good zombie game, and it’s not unusual to have a lot of fun laughing at the game due to crazy situations you’ll end up in with various weapons. The multiplayer is well worth it as well, as it is not only enjoyable but very beneficial to the singleplayer campaign. Dead Rising 2 is a zombie game that does not take itself very seriously, and I recommend it to anyone who needs a good zombie game to play through, or at least a game that likes to poke fun at it’s own cheesy nature.

Overall

9.3/10

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RIP Blinky, My PS3

My old PS3 recently gave out on me. Rather than getting it fixed, I decided to scrap it and get a new one, which will be happening in the next few days.

My old model PS3, nicknamed Blinky, served me well for approximately three years. I enjoyed playing many PS2 games on it and feel bad that the Slim that I will inevitably buy won’t be able to do that.

Oh well. Goodbye Blinky, old friend. I’ll miss you!

Return to August 2010 Articles

Rocket Knight (Review)

“One of the best platformers available on the market today, and one that all fans of the genre must play.”

I can vaguely recall back in the Genesis days when I first played the original Rocket Knight Adventures. The game was lots of fun and very impressive back in the day, and it’s a shame that they game didn’t receive nearly as much attention as it deserved. Climax Studios and Konami look to change this though with Rocket Knight, a remake/sequel that serves as a potential revival of the Rocket Knight series. So is this Rocket Knight reboot a successful reimagining of the Genesis classic? Read on.

Rocket Knight opens with the game’s protagonist, Sparkster, witnessing an army of wolves invading his home nation of Zephyrus, which is where the possums live. The pigs team up with the possums to combat the wolf threat, but really… The story doesn’t matter at all. This is a platformer after all, and does anybody really play platformers for exciting stories? Not really. They are nice additions, but they’re not vital. Thankfully Rocket Knight keeps the story telling to an absolute minimum, just like the good old 16 bit days.

The gameplay in Rocket Knight is quite good, and playing this game immediately brought back slight memories from the original Genesis incarnation. The player controls Sparkster who is equipped with a sword and jetpack. The sword is used to, predictably, slash down foes. The jetpack enables Sparkster to speed across the screen in any direction, plowing through whatever unforunate enemies are in his path. The jetpack can also be used to ricochet off of walls, allowing Sparkster to reach ledges that would be impossible to reach without using the ricochet ability. The jetpack and sword can be combined together to create devastating spin attacks, as well as a “drill attack” which is capable of destroying obstacles later in the game.

Levels are, for the most part, your standard platformer obstacle courses. Keep going left or right, and occasionally up or down. There are many pitfalls and hazards (lava, electric currents, etc.) to avoid, and the everlasting presence of your wolf foes makes some obstacles slightly challenging to get past. Unfortunately, I found that most of Rocket Knight to be overwhelmingly easy. It wasn’t until the final two or three stages that the difficulty decided to spike incredibly, which I found a little bizarre as there was absolutely no difficulty curve in the game at all.

For the sake of variety, there are a few flying stages thrown in as well. These levels play a lot like standard space shooters such as Gradius or R-Type. Players can shoot rapid shots or charge up one powerful shot instead which typically destroys anything in front of Sparkster. These levels are fairly fun, but aren’t nearly as enjoyable as the ground levels.

There are a few boss fights, but they are nothing we haven’t seen before. Run in for an attack when the boss is temporarily unable to attack, bounce explosives back at them, and so forth. Like I said, the boss battles in Rocket Knight are the same battles we’ve gone through many times before. They’re still quite fun in this game though, even if they’re far too predictable and easy to figure out.

The graphics are pretty nice for a budget title. Rocket Knight is not available in physical form, only as a downloadable title off of the Playstation Store, Steam, or XBox Live. There doesn’t seem to be a Wii release, which is unfortunate because I’m sure that Nintendo’s console could easily handle this game. The graphics aren’t very detailed or extravagant, and could very nearly be last generation. Everything as a whole looks very average in Rocket Knight, but the game has a very charming graphical style that makes it easy to forgive the game for having mediocre visuals.

Equally as charming as the graphical style is the game’s music and sound effects. From the very first opening you are treated to a very epic sounding background tune that really sets the scene for an engaging cartoon-like adventure. The sound effects really aren’t anything amazing, but they still somewhat above average and sound decent. I can’t recall being annoyed or turned off by any sound effects, which is certainly a good thing.

So for about half the price of a full retail game, you probably can’t go wrong with Rocket Knight. It emulates Rocket Knight Adventures’ gameplay brilliantly and is a blast to play. The only other platformer I have enjoyed quite as much as this game over the past several years would be New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Yes, I even enjoyed this game more than LittleBigPlanet for the simple fact that this game nails the old school platforming formula far better than anything else on the market today. If you’re a platformer fanatic, then this is definitely a must try for you!

Final Score

8.3/10

Marvel vs Capcom 3 Leaked Roster?

BEFORE READING: To keep up to date with the latest Marvel Vs Capcom 3 news, click here. I try my hardest to publish MvC3 info even before the major gaming sites!


Here is the supposed leaked roster for Marvel vs Capcom 3. Note that this is not confirmed. I REPEAT, NOT CONFIRMED. Take the following with a grain of salt.

Capcom

Akuma
Albert Wesker
Amaterasu
Arthur
Chuck (Frank West Alt Outfit)
Chris Redfield
Chun-Li
Dante
Felicia
Frank West
Hsien-Ko
Mike Haggar
Morrigan
Ryu
Spencer (Bionic Commando)
Trish
Tron Bonne
Viewtiful Joe
Zero

Marvel

Captain America
Deadpool
Dr. Doom
Elektra
Emma Frost
Hulk
Iron Man
Juggernaut
Magneto
Mr. Fantastic
She-Hulk
Shuma-Gorath
Spider-Man
Super Skrull
Taskmaster
Thor
War Machine (Iron Man Alt Outfit)
Wolverine
X-23

So there you have it. I personally find this to be a bit of an unusual line-up with far too many new entries into the MvC series. The number of returning characters is questionable, and a few names listed raise alarms. Mr. Fantastic’s name jumps to mind, since Capcom said that the Fantastic Four would not be playable characters.

The lack of memorable MvC characters such as Captain Commando, Gambit, Mega Man, Strider Hiryu and Venom is somewhat odd. What we see here is hardly an all-star line up. Frank West? Hsien-Ko? She-Hulk? Trish?

I don’t know about this roster, and the jury is still out on whether or not it’s real. Whatever you do, don’t jump to any conclusions just yet.

Return to June 2010 Articles

Crysis 2: Marine Salvage Trailer

I will admit that I had my doubts about Crysis 2 when I heard that it would take place in a city setting. The first game did such an amazing job with the jungle, the water, and much more. Could they really do as good of a job with a boring, grey city? Well..

Yes, they have. This game is looking better and better all the time! Watch for it in stores around November of this year.

Return to June 2010 Articles

DiRT 2 (Review)

INFO: This is a review of the PC version of DiRT 2, which is identical to the 360 and PS3 version. I have no experience with the DS or PSP versions of the game, therefore this review has absolutely nothing to do with them.


“A respectable sequel that takes a few steps forward, but also a few steps backwards as well.”

A few years ago, Codemasters released DiRT, which was then the newest installment in the Colin McRae Rally series. The game was received favourably by gamers and reviewers alike, so it was only a matter of time before they capitalized on the success of the first DiRT game and released a sequel. Last year, DiRT 2 was released and received an even greater reception than the first. As for me, well, I think I might like the first one more.

DiRT 2 borrows heavily from a racing game that Codemasters had released just prior to it, GRID. The overall presentation of DiRT 2 has more in common with GRID than the previous DiRT game by a landslide.

Gameplay features and menus are almost ripped straight out of GRID, which makes the game give off a sense of deja vu that it truly should not have. GRID was an arcade racer and DiRT is a semi-serious rally game. It just feels awkward that the presentation of the game is so similar between DiRT 2 and GRID.

The profile function from GRID, which allowed the game to call you by your name, makes a return as it lays nestled in the game’s menus which, while cleverly scattered across a 3D environment, are borderline carbon copies of GRID’s menus. Another feature that returns is the flashback ability. Five times in each event or race, you can rewind time to before you make a bad corner or before you crash, and you can pick up and play from that point on. This essentially allows you to undo your mistakes, which I didn’t approve of in GRID and I certainly don’t approve of in DiRT 2.

The game’s presentation is very flashy and loud, which is a huge contrast to the calm and vivid presentation of the original DiRT. Codemasters aimed for style with this game, throwing in loud punk rock tracks and making half of the text in the game look like graffiti. It’s clear that, with DiRT 2, Codemasters changed their marketing campaign and aimed for DiRT 2 to appeal to the mainstream audience rather than the semi-hardcore fans of the old Colin McRae games.

The game itself is presented as a full career mode. As soon as you start the game, you are thrown into your travel trailer which is rendered in full 3D. From in here, you can select race events, check relationships with other drivers, and purchase DLC. When you exit your trailer, you can check out your purchased vehicles, go racing, and tweak the game’s options. I find that this menu system is a little cumbersome. Sure it looks good, but the game wastes a lot of time moving the camera around when it could instead be hurrying along and showing you whatever you’re trying to access. To hop into an event, you have to first select one on the event map that is laying on a table inside of your trailer. This can take several seconds or more to find an event that you want to do. When you choose one, the camera pans back and takes you outside so that you can select a car. Once you do this, the camera then moves to show you your car, and it is here where you press the confirm button/key to finally go racing. What takes only a few seconds in conventional racing games can take a minute in DiRT 2.

In terms of events, I was a little upset to find that there is a huge lack of actual rallying in DiRT 2. Most events are competitive races, meaning multiple laps and a full field of opponent racers. Look, the old Rally Cross games were not rally racing, nor are more recent games such as MotorStorm. DiRT 2 isn’t a rally game either, it’s just a racing game that features rallying.

Some events are even more peculiar and questionable, such as the gate crasher races. These play as point to point rally stages, but there are many breakable checkpoints all along the course, and to win you essentially have to break through more of them than the opposition. Does this even sound like rally racing anymore? This isn’t a minigame or an optional game mode, these are mandatory race events.

The event that you take part in is decided by the country you choose on the map. The available countries for you to race in are China, Croatia, England, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, and the United States. Since I bought DiRT 2 to play a rally game, I find myself sticking mostly to Croatia and Morocco, where I find most of the enjoyable rally events to be located. While mentioning the countries available, I want to touch upon Malaysia. I find it very peculiar that Malyasia, on the ingame map, is Madagascar. China’s name strangely appears over Malaysia instead. I don’t want to question Codemasters, but do they know their geography? Labelling Madagasar as Malaysia is quite an odd thing to do since they are on opposite ends of the Indian Ocean. It’s a shame that Canada is not featured in DiRT 2, because part of me believes that they would mistakenly label it as Ireland.

In terms of gameplay, I must admit to being quite impressed. Controls are tighter and much more responsive than they were in the original DiRT, and gone is the sensation of your vehicle feeling as if it is “floating” around the course. All cars feel like they have genuine mass to them now, and they behave as such. Actual rallying feels more developed in DiRT 2, and I really enjoy whipping around hairpins in rally cars, something that was extremely rare in the first DiRT. I truly couldn’t be happier with the rally portion of game. I do not feel that the buggy/truck racing really stands up to the rally racing, nor is the lap racing particularly exciting, but there is still some enjoyment to be had in these races and, thankfully, the quality of the racing never dips below average.

As you race, you will earn experience points and level up. This doesn’t increase any abilities that let you drive better. Instead, gaining levels unlocks new events to race as well as new liveries and car decorations. You will also be able to forge relationships with other rally drivers in the game. Real life rally drivers Ken Block, Travis Pastrana, Tanner Foust and Dave Mirra can be befriended, as well as two fictional female drivers named Jayde Taylor and Katie Justice, whom I presume are in the game to add some equality to the game. Unfortunately, the friendships that you develop hardly matter at all. A better relationship with a rival driver will really only increase your chances of partnering them in team events.

The sound in DiRT 2 is about the same as it was in the first game, meaning that the sounds of cars accelerating and crashing are about what you would expect. They sound realistic enough to get the job done, but in truth are not very convincing. The voice acting in the game is a different story though, and I find that it annoys me frequently. Throughout races, fellow drivers will make witty quips about you or the circuit, or yell at people who hit them. It’s pretty unrealistic and makes it seem that the drivers are all wearing headsets to talk to one another, making it feel more like the races are casual and friendly events that good friends are taking part in. It’s just really silly and doesn’t fit the game’s atmosphere at all when you’re driving and I find it very distracting. Co-drivers sound good and do their jobs well, and listening to them is more of a required fixation rather than a distraction.

DiRT 2 doesn’t look too bad graphically. I’m not sure what the reason is, but I found myself not being surprised by any of the graphics. Nothing really stands out as being exceptional in DiRT 2, and unlike the first game which looked absolutely stunning when it came out, DiRT 2 just looks simply good.

Overall, it’s certainly an evolution of the original DiRT. While I don’t like how the rally experience has been neglected in DiRT 2 very much, the ability to replay rally events whenever I want makes me feel a little better. For the most part, DiRT 2 is a vicious offroad racer that can be quite unforgiving at times. If you’re a fan of rallying or chaotic offroad races, then DiRT 2 is likely your cup of tea. However, if you’re looking for the next Need for Speed, then you may want to give DiRT 2 a pass.

Final Score

8.1/10