When There’s No More Room In Hell, The Dead Will Totally Get Killed By Electric Rakes

When Dead Rising was released in 2006, I went with my friend to buy a copy at Best Buy. When we asked an employee to get the game for us, he chuckled and said, “Oh, so y’all gonna roll up a blunt and kill zombies all night, huh?”

That’s not my strongest memory of Dead Rising. That would probably be the first time I got a baseball bat and played homerun derby. Or when I threw a bunch of plates at zombies until I finally killed one. Or the excavator. Or throwing a pie in a zombie’s face, and then taking a photo of it.

What I remember most about Dead Rising, though, was that it was fun. Even parts that sounded tedious, like escorting a bunch of scared little civilians, ended up being fun and tense and cool. The psychopathic humans were honestly creepy, especially the huge lady cop. And, okay, the overarching story about Americans needing more meat so they come up with bees that can clone cows or something was dumb. Who cares? You could dress up in a cool suit and drive a sportscar over tens of thousands of zombies.

Frank West, hero of Dead Rising. This guy is so cool, I named a sandwich after him at my local sandwich shop. It's turkey with American cheese. I didn't say I had good taste.

In October, Dead Rising 2 comes out. To whet anticipation, Capcom released Dead Rising 2: Case 0, the first demo I’ve ever paid to have the pleasure of playing. I’m not complaining, though – it feels a lot more like a short, complete game than the first fifteen minutes of a longer product. It does a good job of highlighting the Big New Feature of DR2: Chuck Greene, motocross star and our hero can combine ordinary household items, like a baseball bat and a box of nails, to create a spiked bat.  Or a rake and a car battery to make an electric rake. Or a kayak paddle and two chainsaws to create a kayak paddle with chainsaws on either end.

If you’re into mindless slaughter of mindless zombies, then it’s exactly as much fun as it sounds like. And I’m totally into it.

sick wheelie, brah

The demo does, however, highlight a few confusing design decisions.

1) Other People Don’t Trust Chuck’s Handiwork

Let’s play pretend for a little bit. You’re a dude trapped in a bar in a tiny Nevada town, and your name is Fausto. No, you’re not a magician. I don’t know why, because why else would you be named Fausto? Anyways, there’s zombies everywhere, your wife is there (her name is Gemini – no, I don’t understand that either) and in bursts CHUCK GREENE, who’s got an assault rifle strapped to his back, a carton of orange juice at his hip, and he’s holding a bat with spikes in it. He quickly dispatches every zombie in the bar with the bat, demonstrating its incredible combat effectiveness. He tells you that there’s a safe place at the gas station next door and offers to take you there.

After Chuck Greene gets you two beers from the bar (they’re right next to you but you can’t get them yourself because you’re lazy???), you agree to go with him. He offers you the spiked baseball bat so you can defend yourself on the run over, but you refuse. He does it again, and you again refuse. Finally, he gives you the assault rifle. You take it without hesitation. Instead of a weapon where you’re more likely to hurt a zombie than yourself, you have taken an incredibly dangerous firearm which you probably have no practice using. Nice going, Fausto.

Why can’t I give a survivor a simple handcrafted weapon like the bat? I can understand that they wouldn’t want to use the chainsaw kayak paddle or a rake full of electricity, but it’s a baseball bat with nails in it. It’s the simplest weapon imaginable. Hopefully, in the retail version of DR2, when you offer a survivor a handmade weapon, a minute long unskippable scene plays where they talk about how they saw their father killed by a shotgun with a pitchfork taped to it. That’s believable characterization!

2) Chuck Is Really Finicky About Jumping Onto Ledges

There’s a few parts of the demo where you need to jump up onto things. Sometimes it’s a stairway that mysteriously ends one man’s height above the sidewalk. Sometimes it’s the awnings of buildings. And sometimes it’s just a dumpster.

Chuck will never do this on the first try. He will always jump over, around, or under whatever it is you’re trying to climb. Perhaps his hands, chafed raw after years of x-treme professional motocross racing, hurt really bad. So Chuck can only make himself grab ledges one time out of three. Or maybe he’s just afraid of heights, and the game never reveals this, instead allowing you to reason it out yourself. That’s good gameplay!

Yes, these are pathetic complaints. Yes, they are outweighed by the sheer mindless fun of running around, throwing molotov cocktails at crowds of zombies. Or the amusement of stabbing a zombie in the chest while the Psycho chord plays in the background.

And you probably thought I was making it up.

Dead Rising 2, I’m glad you’re going to be here soon. Let’s get high together.


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