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Dead Rising 2: Case West (Xbox 360) artwork

Dead Rising 2: Case West (Xbox 360) review

"Hijinks ensue as the two constantly bicker with each other, spout smart ass comments, and get themselves caught in unfortunate situations. In other words, welcome to Dead Rising: Buddy Cop Edition!"

As the subtitle alludes to, Case West signals the return of the series' first protagonist, photojournalist Frank West, who teams up with Dead Rising 2's hero, Chuck Greene, to further uncover the reasons behind the Fortune City outbreak. Picking up from one of DR2's endings, Chuck is saved at the last second by a bat-happy Frank, knocking a zombie off his body. There, the two venture to a guarded facility in the middle of nowhere, filled to the brim with hungry zombies. Why are there zombies? Erm... simple answer is because it's a zombie game. Hijinks ensue as the two constantly bicker with each other, spout smart ass comments, and get themselves caught in unfortunate situations. In other words, welcome to Dead Rising: Buddy Cop Edition!

If you've played a Dead Rising title before, the usual mechanics make their appearance: complete timed case files, run into survivors, and indulge in comical killing sprees. However, upon playing, you'll get this feeling the development team was in an experimental phase with Case West. It's almost as if they said, "Okay, we got the big game out of the way, now let's fiddle with some stuff!" It makes sense, though, right? Better to do it with a small, downloadable title than the next big sequel. But the approach this game takes may not be up every DR fan's alley, turning Case West into a polarizing trek.

The most recognizable difference everyone is going to notice is the setting. The series is known for its unique locations, from a typical mall and a small desert town, to a Vegas-style environment. Case West? Takes place in what's essentially a big warehouse. I'm not going to lie, when I started running around this place and checked the map layout, I had trouble seeing how this was going to work. Most of the game is nothing but stairs, catwalks, lab rooms, and six to eight small living quarters. If you look really hard, though, the essence of Dead Rising is in there, just in smaller quantities. Walk into what appears to be a processing section and press a button to incinerate zombies; enter the maintenance tunnel to discover a very obvious Left 4 Dead reference; snoop around the living quarters to find an "XXX" room with a massager-wielding zombie and a tiki-esque shrine on one roof. These are some freaky-deaky people.

In terms of content, at least in comparison to Case Zero, Case West has a bit more going on. Since you're in a high-secured building, you'll continually run into armed guards that love to fill you with bullets. If you've experienced assault rifle battles in Dead Rising before, then yes, there's going to be a lot of stop-and-go movement. Become too distracted, as well, and you'll get an unexpected jolt from behind by a zombie tamer holding an electric rod. Not to be outdone, you'll later be introduced to Hazard Units, bulky-armored guys that attack with dangerous pressure-releasing devices. The constant heavy resistance by humans is understandable, since the three case files available mostly consist of just arriving at a certain spot and pressing the B button.

Case West is one of those instances where it has to rely more on its side objectives to keep players coming back, like "saving" people. In one of the oddest adjustments, you don't have to escort people in the game. Once you solve their various, stupid problems, like making an energy drink or locating organ parts, they help themselves to safety. While an interesting change of pace, I hope it doesn't become a big aspect in later DR installments. It just makes things too easy. Other side distractions, sadly, are regulated to the achievements. You know something is wrong when you have to turn to achievements so soon to extend replay value. These range from snapping PP markers with the return of the photography mechanic to shooting down 40+ security cameras in the facility. Yay...

On paper, Case West kinda sounds like a better game than Case Zero. However, for all the "improvements" made, like a slightly longer adventure, a more actively dangerous environment, and a co-op component, the boring setting, lame case files, and questionable changes sort of cancel them out. It's such a strange thing, whereas the dev team tried fixing the problems that plagued Case Zero... but in the process totally screwed up the good stuff about that title. The one genuinely positive aspect about the game is that it actually has a story that makes some actual progress for the series, having a twist here and there. Though, you can just watch some videos for that and save the 800 MS points for a title with more content. And yeah, it's obvious this is intended to be played in co-op, alongside a buddy controlling either Chuck or Frank, but even then, that can only stretch the two hour game so far before replaying gets tiresome. That'll happen quick, believe me.

Shame Frank West's "triumphant" comeback had to turn out like this.

dementedhut's avatar
Community review by dementedhut (July 11, 2012)

Happy New Year.


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