Throwback Thursday | Dead Rising 2

In this week’s Throwback Thursday, we check in with an Xbox 360 exclusive that Microsoft released as a free download on Xbox Live last week — Dead Rising 2.

I’ll be polite when reflecting on my experience with Dead Rising 2. It’s only been three years since Capcom‘s zombie romp of a sequel was released, but it’s amazing to think how far the zombie action subgenre has come since then. From the rich storylines and characters in The Last of Us and The Walking Dead, to the open-world chaos in State of Decay and Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, zombie games are succeeding commercially and critically, and perhaps now studios are turning to them as influences.

Dead Rising 2 was an early influencer in that it brought several gameplay variables into one world and created one of the first detailed simulations of the zombocalypse. Taking control of Chuck Greene, players had to balance their completion of primary and secondary missions against time, know where to look for weapons, money, and food, and navigate Fortune City tactfully to reach save points at crucial moments. It playfully showed us how a ketchup bottle or a giant foam finger could be used as a defense mechanism & and how fun it was to pick up cash registers and bash some zombie brains.

But like some of the titles Microsoft has released for free on Xbox Live (for Gold subscribers), Dead Rising 2 feels dated and offers little value right away.

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First of all, the action moves much slower than the ZombiUs and Dead Islands out there. I can’t remember the last time my character, who is not a zombie himself, moved so slowly; this makes dismembering enemies less rewarding than one would expect. Speaking of zombies, if you’re looking for a little variation in their movements and actions, this is not the title for you. At times found myself weaving between enemies as I navigated the streets and casinos without swinging my axe once.

And if you’re used to saving your game frequently, don’t bother. Since there is no mini-map on screen, it’s often difficult to keep track of where you’re going — especially when you’re spending minutes upon minutes trying to find one of the game’s rare save spots. There were times I felt like exploring a little and I would run into something more characteristic of a boss fight with only two bars of health. So once I got my guts reamed, I had to go back to the last game I saved…30 or 40 minutes ago.

Alright Capcom, I’ll ease up, but only after I make this last point. What’s the real reason you need not bother downloading Dead Rising 2? Apart from the other excellent zombie games out there, you should not let Dead Rising or Dead Rising 2 affect your judgment of the upcoming Dead Rising 3, which will release on the Xbox One‘s launch. A similar approach in gameplay, Dead Rising 3 will expand the open-world zombie universe and will offer a more fluid feel to the action and combat. We’ve seen the evolution of AAA and indie zombie titles over a few years’ time, and now it’s Dead Rising‘s turn. See for yourself by watching Capcom’s Gamescom 2013 gameplay demo here.

So where does the Dead Rising franchise rank among your favorite zombie games? And is Dead Rising 3 one of the reasons you’re considering an Xbox One?

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