Review: Dead Rising 2 – Case Zero

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero is exactly what many have tagged it as: a glorified demo. It has all the trappings of a demo (short play time, limited options, no story to speak of), with one key difference: this demo will set you back 5 bucks (400 MSP). Going into it, I really wasn’t sure if any “demo” would be worth an actual monetary investment. Did purchasing Case Zero pay off for me in the end? Hit the jump to find out!

I’m just gonna come out and say it before this gets awkward. I was not a fan of the original Dead Rising. I thought the game had a cool premise (thousands of zombies, tons of weapons to kill thousands of zombies with, etc.). But when it came to the actual gameplay, Capcom’s game fell flat. I was constantly bored by the whole thing. Sure, there were a lot of things to whack zombies with, but after a certain point it just became tedious. And aside from the occasional psychopath boss battle, the game held no alterations to the “kill x amount of zombies on your way from point a to point b” formula. So, concerning the release of a sequel, I was obviously nonplussed. I held no stake in the franchise, and was too distracted to even honestly care.

Over a week after Dead Rising 2’s initial release, I noticed several of my Xbox Live friends with Achievements in something called “Dead Rising 2: Case Zero.” I had seen some articles about this “Case Zero” in numerous publications, print or online, but hadn’t really investigated any more than a glance and a page turn. I investigated a bit further, and learned that the game was not really a demo of Dead Rising 2, but a prologue of the whole story. I asked a few friends (suffice it to say they all love Dead Rising), and they all had the same thing to say about Case Zero. “It’s totally worth it!” So, seeing as I had a couple hundred Microsoft Points to spare, I bought it this past Friday.

And here I sit, on a cool Sunday evening, having beaten everything there was to beat in Dead Rising 2: Case Zero. And what have I got to show for it? Honestly, not much. I have the 200 Achievement points associated with the title, and probably a fairly smug expression on my face. Case Zero was meant to get people excited for the full release of Dead Rising 2. I can honestly say that it had the exact opposite effect on me. I went into the game with a completely open mind (impressions of the first game notwithstanding), and I was still unimpressed. The “story” itself had almost no effect on me, even though it (I think) was supposed to leave somewhat of an emotional impact. I didn’t care that my daughter was turning into a zombie. Not at all. I didn’t care about the survivors that I had to save. Part of the reason for my not caring can easily be attributed to the wooden animations of the title. PS2 era cutscenes and animations plucked straight from a House of the Dead arcade game are not necessarily great catalysts for gripping storytelling. Back in the good ol’ days, that would be acceptable. But on today’s HD consoles, one comes to expect a little more polish in the triple-A games that get released.

Aside from the unimpressive story and visuals, Case Zero also suffers from (¡Surprise!) some checkpoint and saving issues. The game autosaves after the completion of each segment of the “case-file,” which has a total of 4 segments. The first 3 of these segments took me about 5 minutes to complete. The 4th segment, conversely, took me a solid hour or so to finish. And there are no autosaves in the middle of this segment. To preserve your data, you must go to a bathroom and manually save your file. This would not be a horrible thing, but when you are literally “on the clock” trying to complete all of the missions in the game before your daughter turns into a zombie, going out of your way to save is actually quite annoying. And without a checkpoint system, a zombified daughter results in an automatic “game over.”

All negatives aside, I must say that I occasionally had fun with Case Zero. Combining two random items together and creating unique (albeit disturbing) weapons was quite a thrill. The selection of weapon pickups in the game is almost staggering, with everything from poker chips to mustard bottles available for use against the horde. It was obvious that the makers of this game put a lot of work into making sure that whoever played the game would chuckle whenever a zombie gets decimated by interesting means. And I admit, I did have a good time plowing through crowds of zombies while wearing a moose head.

But the fun of zombie killing wears off fast. A lot faster than it takes to finish Case Zero. I’m sure Dead Rising 2: Case Zero and the full release of Dead Rising 2 are exactly some readers’ cups of tea. But I don’t even drink tea. I had fun playing the game, but there were too many flaws that hampered my enjoyment. And seeing as I’m not an Achievement/Trophy junkie (anymore), I’d much rather give up the 200 Gamerscore I received and just get my 5 bucks back. This “demo” was definitely, at least in my particular case, not worth the price of admission.


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