Having finally defeated the original Dead Rising on the 360 a couple of months ago, I was so hyped for the sequel to come out. When I heard there was a download only ‘prequel’ to the second game on the Xbox 360 that cost 5 bux, I griped over the scam of being charged money for ‘air’ with no physical backup copy—and then immediately signed up for Xbox Live and downloaded the prequel.
Dead Rising: Case Zero, as the prequel is called, is a great introduction to the minimal changes that have been made in the game mechanics of the sequel, and it’s also a great way to build up your stats with some fairly easy challenges that you can then carry over into the actual Dead Rising 2 game. Case Zero has your character stuck in a small town with his daughter, who has been infected after being bitten by a zombie. For the most part, you simply have to go out and save other survivors in town and escort them back to your safety zone in a gas station while also making sure to find an antidote for your daughter called “Zombrex.” Other than a few locked buildings that are tricky to get into and may require a walkthru for the solution to enter them, everything is fairly straightforward, the town is only a few short blocks long, and you don’t have to take on many ‘psychopaths’ at all. And by the time you do, you’ve already built up your stats, so you fight better, run faster, and have more inventory space. Not to mention, the game now offers you THREE save slots instead of one.
By the time you get to the official Dead Rising 2, you’re better prepared to take on the challenges—and definitely wishing your character wasn’t a breeder. You still have to find Zombrex every day for your little daughter so she won’t turn into a zombie. Annoying! The other major element the game has added is the ‘maintenance room,’ where you can actually combine certain items to make mega weapons (like combining a bat with a box of nails for a spiked bat). Thankfully, the repetitive cut scene of your character building and admiring his creations is skippable. And since you’re no longer playing a reporter as in the first game, you also don’t have a camera. Fans seem to complain about the removal of the photo aspect of the original game, but I say good riddance. You got enough problems in this game, which can be fricking HARD at times!
Important to note is that Chuck, your character in this game, is just as hot as Frank West was in the first game. And what a bod on this dude! As soon as I could, I stopped in a store and got Chuck out of his default motorcycle gear and slipped him into nothing but a pair of heart covered boxers! I got a serious heart on for Chuck. Too bad he’s straight. And, well, a video game character….
As in the first game, all the cases here are timed, so you’ll very often skip optional ‘scoops’ and just focus on getting cases completed in time. The cases also seem to be much closer together in this game, giving you less opportunity to take on side missions just for the fun of it. Also, this game takes place in Vegas, in what really amounts to nothing more than another mall that is like 10 times bigger than the one in the first game. Now, however, there are also casinos, and you have to earn money which you can then use to buy supplies in ‘pawn shops’.
Not only do the zombies seem to be more plentiful and more aggressive in this game, but the psychopath battles are a lot harder, especially since there is no convenient maxed out mini-chainsaw trick as in the first game. You really are dependent on the items lying around the mall, many of them lame and weak, which means you’re often left searching for something, ANYTHING to use to fight the undead after your temporary weapon dies on you. You feel much more vulnerable as a result, especially during psychopath battles.
You also feel more vulnerable during the ever so annoying act of eating something to heal yourself. I know Resident Evil haters always thought it was stupid how you could hit the inventory button during a boss battle to not only pause the battle but also heal up, causing a lack of a ‘real time’ feel, but in this game, your character actually stops dead in his tracks and starts to gobble down whatever health item he has in hand, which leaves him vulnerable to a zombie walking up on him and chomping on him. How is that realistic??? Let’s face it, even if my fricking shin bone was poking out the back of my calf, I wouldn’t be sitting there trying to put a bandage on it! I’d be dragging that bum leg behind me, perhaps even using it to my advantage to look like a zombie so I could just blend in! You know, if you can’t eat ‘em, join ‘em.
There are other annoying healing issues as well. Other than food, you can also ‘heal’ yourself with beer, whiskey, and other alcoholic beverages. Their healing power is strong, but if you heal too often with them, you can be in the middle of a psychopath battle, and all of a sudden you’ll double over and start puking all over the floor!!! UGH! And naturally, that leaves you open to attack. The same thing happens if you dig into a garbage can and find a ‘spoiled hamburger’: increases your health dramatically, but also makes you sick. But sometimes your health is so low and you’re desperate, so you pick through the garbage! Such an embarrassing admission…
Then there are the psychopath battles. For the most part, they are MUCH harder in this game—mostly because you don’t have the maxed out mini-chainsaw trick, which made them a breeze in the first game. On the plus side, ‘boss’ battles are like a dream come true in that you can initiate a psychopath battle, then if you’re getting your arse kicked, as long as the battle is not required to close a case, you can simply say bye bye battle. Just run away. LOVE it, did it often. What also helps is that, even if you don’t want to give up on the boss battle, you can actually leave him in the vicinity where you found him because he doesn’t follow you too far, go off and heal, sometimes even save in the middle of the battle, and then go do some more damage to him. It’s such a wimp’s technique, but hey, it works. Survival of the smartest, as I like to think of it. On top of that, although they’ve somewhat ironed out the annoying phone calls from the safe room (now the caller just leaves you messages), you can still be in the middle of a psychopath battle and be getting an “URGENT!” call that sets off a timer requiring you to get back to the safe room fast! WTF? I’m in the middle of getting ripped apart by a psychopath here!!! Leave me alone!!!
Considering most of the psychopath battles are optional, the real challenges here are the super zombies that are introduced at the end of the game. OMG, kill me now. This is SO annoying. These bigger, badder zombies are relentless!!! They are mixed in with all the hoards of regular zombies, but they chase you more intently, and if one of them grabs you, it’s total flesh eating horror!!! They fricking pin you down and you have to wait for a random button pushing sequence to show on screen!!! If you don’t hit the right buttons, like, IMMEDIATELY, the process starts all over and you just keep having more health blocks ripped like raw flesh from your health bar!!! I died more times at the hands (or mouths) of these super zombies than I did at the hands of psychopaths.
Just about the ONLY advantage this game gives players is the intelligence of the artificial intelligence. And by that, I mean the survivors that you need to escort. In the first game, they were so dumb they’d often act like they were diving into a mosh pit. Hello! I didn’t say White Zombie, I said ZOMBIES!!! Here, the survivors actually keep up with you, run faster, avoid zombies, and really use their weapons when swarmed. You could almost say they are a delight to save in this game, whereas in the first game, I allowed many of them to serve as zombie bait while I got myself out of dangerous predicaments!
Despite some of the challenges I’ve mentioned, provided you play Case Zero first, it’s safe to say that Dead Rising 2 is more fairly balanced in the favor of players being able to finish it the first time through, because I got all the way through to the end of the game without having to restart. And I wasn’t even built up anywhere near the maximum stats level. So I can breeze through the game a second time, building my stats even more, taking on psychopaths and doing side missions I avoided the first time around for a pretty different gaming experience.
The biggest technical negative about this game is the load times, as many have griped on the internet. Every time you leave one area and enter another, you have to wait a good 10 to 15 seconds for the game to load. Since this game often relies on you simply plowing your way through sections of zombies to get to another section as fast as possible, that time begins to add up. And imagine if you simply see a door that makes you curious and think you’re just going to step in for a second to take a peek, but suddenly find you’re sitting through a load time because the door didn’t lead to a small room but an actual bigger section of the game you’re not ready to deal with yet. After 15 seconds, you have to turn right around, click on the door again, and wait another 15 seconds to get back where you were!!! Argh.
But the load times are at their most glaringly annoying when you reach the final boss in Overtime Mode. Without spoiling anything about the story, the situation goes like this. There is one last bathroom you can (and want to) save in before the final boss. Once you’ve saved, you have to go through TWO separate doors to get to the boss (30 seconds load time in total) then watch TWO cut scenes (another 30 seconds of load time). Okay, so a minute wait to get to the boss. Not terrible…except for the fact that it’s pretty much guaranteed you will NOT beat the boss on the first try. So guess what? Now you have to load your last save, then wait through another minute of load screens to get back to trying the boss again. As if you’re not already frustrated enough with the boss battle itself, you have to keep sitting through those horrible load screens over and over. So for all those people on the message boards who like to be contrary just to be contrary, claiming the load times are fine, I say stop being a hopelessly devoted, ignorant fanboy. It’s okay to love a game, a specific gaming system, a movie, a director, a musician, a president, a political party…and still admit that there are flaws…
Speaking of the final boss, since I’ve actually just conquered the game, I’m going to give a couple of helpful hints for the last two bosses of the game while they are still fresh in my mind. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead.
**SPOILERS**BEAT YOUR BOSS TO A HAPPY ENDING**SPOILERS**
First of all, that’s not a euphemism. I’m going to offer some techniques I used to beat the final two bosses in this game. As I said above, it’s great that you can just leave a psychopath battle behind if you find him too hard, but when it comes down to the last two bosses, you have no choice but to defeat them if you want to complete the game. So let’s begin with the last boss of the game before Overtime Mode.
First Final Boss Helpful Hints
Okay. Since you’ve arrived at this point in the game, you know this boss is Sullivan. Now, you actually have quite some time to get to him despite the urgent phone calls you’ll receive about him getting away, so if, like me, you discover you have NO zombrex on you so you can’t give it to TK to unlock Overtime Mode, fear not. I ran off to the closest pawn shop, battled dozens of those damn annoying super zombies, bought the Zombrex, and got back to the safe house quick enough (saving along the way because I’m a wimp). So, once I hooked TK up, I saved again, then headed off to fight Sullivan. At this point in the game, my stats were at Level 24.
Of course, what sux about this game is, getting to a boss battle is like one big mini boss battle because you have to make your way through hundreds of zombies, including those fricking super zombies. So I stocked up with spiked bats because they are the quickest, and also carried a defiler just in case…as well as some health. The ultimate goal is to follow the guide arrow to the bathroom alcove right where you have to take an elevator that happens to be filled with zombies. Luckily, there are no super zombies in here, and the regular zombies are pretty easy to do away with, although there are lots of them and you really need your weapons for the boss battle.
Now many strategies I’ve read online say to use the finger gloves against the boss, but since finding the items to make them is not easy, it’s not like you’re going to have the time to run around Fortune City picking up what you need to make a couple of pairs. To be quite honest, what I discovered worked best were simple melee weapons like the axe and sledgehammer. You just have to know when to strike, because Sullivan will grab them away from you if he’s not vulnerable.
So anyway, go into the bathrooms and save. What’s great about this is, there are several garbage cans around here and you can throw them against a wall to find some health—but beware the spoiled hamburgers, which make you sick. You’ll often get a handgun from the garbage cans, but I found them useless against Sullivan so I quit picking them up. I just stocked myself with melee weapons and some health—which you’ll need lots of. Once you save, head back out and carefully kill as many of the zombies in the elevator as possible. You can actually clear out just enough of them on the left side to make room to get in there to hit the elevator button. I had that weird laser gun thing I picked up from the scientists earlier in the game, so I used that to just knock them down and run past them. Once you hit the elevator button, you’re home free.
This is where it starts to suck. You are in a room filled with zombies when you get off the elevator!!! ARGH! WHY???? WHY????? Oh the humanity!!! However, after some trial and error, I discovered a few good things about this area. First of all, there are no super zombies. Second of all, if you go directly to the right, you will find some orange juice and other healing items on a counter, and beyond that, a kitchen with some more food and even some good weapons. Remember this, because you will end up back here during the fight most likely. Also, to the left of the elevator there are some tables with some liquor and a lobster for more health.
Next thing I learned is, from the small stairs you are standing on when you get off the elevator, if you pretty much run straight ahead and then a little to the left, you will go directly to the stairs leading up to the boss battle. Of course, dozens of zombies stand in your way. But I found that if you plow right into them, especially with that laser gun equipped without even using it, you sort of nudge most of them out of the way. You can also jump kick them or beat them up a little, but you’re really opening a Pandora’s Box by doing that. If you run right through them, you’ll probably get grabbed once or twice, but you can easily shake them off.
Once in the stairwell, you are again faced with zombies. Weave around them, push past them, give them a bit of a beat down: whatever it takes to wind your way up the several flights. Just get to the door at the top of the stairs. And prepare yourself for the boss!!!
Now on the roof after the cut scene, you are left in a really shitty situation. This is going to really take a couple of tries, because there is so much to learn. First of all, the boss, on the scaffolding platform in the middle of the area, immediately begins shooting at you. There are zombies about (not super zombies). There is some food scattered around on tables, but it begins to…um…disappear as a helicopter above drops bombs that make holes in the floor (and you) if you stay on the roof instead of climbing onto the scaffolding to fight the boss. These holes lead you right back into the hoards of zombies you just ran through, and if you fall down there, you have to make your way back to the stairs to get back to the boss fight. But if you play the way I played, you’ll actually find that area somewhere you WANT to go. I’ll explain below.
Back to where you begin after the cut scene. The goal is to immediately run to the left and find the boxes and scaffolding that lead up to the boss’s level. This is where it immediately gets annoying. This dude begins shooting you in mid-climb, so you’ll be knocked back down, you’ll take some hits to your health…but you have no choice. Sux. And very often, when you make that jump from the lower scaffolding to his level, as soon as you pull yourself up, he sucker punches you! WTF? The goal is to try to jump as soon as you pull up, and hopefully, you’ll be away from him so you can get your bearings.
Truthfully, I was never quite able to figure out when the boss was most vulnerable, I just kind of sensed it after getting his ‘groove.’ He does all these dance moves on the small fighting area, so I simply made it a habit to run around until I felt I really had a chance at him. Most importantly, avoid his rolling attack that sends him from one side of the platform to the other quickly. This is a melee fight when you’re on the platform, so don’t worry that he’s going to shoot you. What you really HAVE to do here is kick the bugger to knock him down. This means, on the 360, you have to hold the right trigger and press X. Finding the right time and angle to hit him with this is the trick, and very often I’d be kicking thin air, but eventually I got it down. What happens is, when you jump kick him, he drops to his knees, and you can give him TWO whacks with a melee weapon. Do NOT try to get in a third. He’ll totally get you. This means, you’re going to have to be really patient to win this fight. I guess this is the same time you could swipe at him with the finger gloves if you have them. The axe really did the trick for me.
That’s the basic strategy to kill him, but here’s how you save yourself. Chances are, the boss IS going to knock you off the platform AND take away your health. He may knock you right into one of the new holes in the roof (which are only made if you’re on the roof—the helicopter doesn’t drop bombs if you are on the platform with the boss). In that case, you have to get up and get away from all the zombies below. Even if you don’t get knocked into the hole, you want to run back to the door to the stairs, which is behind a wall where the boss can’t shoot you, and actually go back DOWN the stairs to enter the zombie infested level below. Sounds crazy, right? But it’s better than staying on that roof in a weakened state, because the boss will begin shooting you immediately AND you can get nailed by the bombs the helicopter is throwing. Believe it or not, loads of zombies are easier to take on than that.
So either way that you land back on the first floor, get yourself away from the zombies to someplace you can heal at least a little if need be (climbing on a table helps), THEN get yourself to the elevator! That’s right. Get BACK on the elevator and take it back down, leaving the boss fight behind for a moment! You will be back in the bathroom alcove with none or just a few zombies near you. Turn completely around and run into one of the bathrooms. Here, you can throw garbage cans against a wall to find health—go into both bathrooms if need be and smash all cans to find health. Heal as much as possible and then SAVE. That’s right. Save with the boss at partial health on the roof above you. I did this repeatedly so that I essentially chipped away at the boss’s health while giving myself a chance to rest, heal, and calm my nerves. And this way you never have to restart the boss ALL over again. The zombies you have to run through to get back to him, both in the elevator and the floor above, soon feel like a piece of cake, not to mention, food and weapons respawn both in the zombie room and in the bathroom garbage cans every time you leave one area and reenter another! SWEET.
And that’s pretty much it. That’s how you work your way safely through the Sullivan battle.
The Overtime Mode Boss Battle Helpful Hints
As in the first game, this is another annoying battle where you have NO weapons and NO health—and you don’t have the glitch that made the boss get stuck in a vulnerable holding pattern in the first game. Oh how I loved that glitch. But in exchange for that glitch, you actually do have the opportunity to pick up melee weapons and health during this battle, so it’s a trade-off. I’m not sure how much your stats matters in this battle, but I was at Level 26 when I took him on.
As I said above, the most annoying part of this battle is really the fact that the last bathroom save is a bunch of load times away from the actual battle. This means you have to make it past zombies—including super zombies—to get to him. ARGH. It’s not that hard, you can run past most of them, but it is good to have health on you before you attempt it. If need be, there’s a restaurant in the casino you passed through to get to this section, so go back and grab some just to make it to the boss. Just watch the timeline, because you have to make it to the Arena before it runs out.
Once you save and get past all the zombies and doors and up the stairs to the Arena doors, eat health if you are not at full health. I know painkillers apparently carry over into the boss battle if you take them right before opening the doors, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any on me. Once you are ready, enter the doors and watch the two cut scenes (or skip through them if you are on a repeat attempt).
There are a couple of key ways to win this battle. For starters, pressing the left stick IN to do a roll dodge is KEY to avoiding TK’s sucky attacks. Also, not getting into panicked button mash mode is important, because not only do you have to take on TK and avoid his attacks, but you have to turn that damn crank to keep the gals from being lowered to their deaths. Really pound it into your brain that pressing B grabs the crank and hitting A quickly raises the gals back up from impending doom. And to make the button pushing swift and less confusing, I began quickly hitting the Y button to release the lever after getting a TK beatdown too many times because I accidentally re-hit the B button and latched right back on to the crank.
Most important, you have to grab some health and a weapon—and avoid TK’s stampede attack. When the battle begins, I immediately rolled to the left to avoid his first attack—which also happens to lead to OJ in the corner. But damn them for putting those fricking cardboard boxes so near all the important items in this fight. Way too often I ended up with a cardboard box in hand and no time to even throw it to see what was inside.
After getting the OJ, you have to enter one of two horrible side catwalks for a weapon. This is where you have to really be on your toes. Yes, TK will start those flare blasts in the floor path…you just have to keep your camera trained so that you know which way they are going to come get you (obviously, it’s usually from behind you). The point here is to grab a wrench from the corner (there are also some snacks, useless weapons and annoying cardboard boxes). Once you hear the flares setting off on the path behind you, you should already be closer to the wrench corner. Grab it and keep running. The flares will be on your ass, but if you circle all the way back to the entrance of the catwalk area, there’s a sort of ‘safe’ zone corner. You even have time to heal here while TK is in flare igniting mode—just beware that flame that shoots out from the entrance to keep you inside. The goal is to get to the safe corner with a wrench in hand, heal if needed, and step out of the catwalk area before the flare attack begins all over. This is always the strategy when entering the catwalks for supplies—but be wary. I thought this was a TK-free zone, but a couple of times, instead of setting off his flares, he actually chased me INTO the area and beat my arse!
Now to fighting TK himself with a wrench in hand. People have suggested the cement saw that can also be found on one of the two catwalk areas is a great weapon—but they all fail to mention that when you hit X to attack with it, you first get an animation of you starting it up! ARGH. Naturally, you are guaranteed to be nailed by TK during this animation, so I didn’t even bother with the cement saw. Also, I’ve read that you can jump kick this dude to stun him, but I was too busy running away from him to attempt it, so I don’t know if that works.
The main platform has that square beam section in the middle with the crank on it. The idea is to pretty much always keep that section between you and TK. Just run in circles around it, keeping TK in your camera view on the opposite side. Eventually, he will try his stampede move—directly into the square beams!!! Once he finishes that, he will begin to circle around to get you. Now, you should creep up next to the edge of the section in front of you as he circles around—and swing JUST as he is beginning to turn the corner! You will be able to get in TWO shots on him, and hopefully not get one in return. After two hits, quickly push the left stick in to roll away from him…and begin running! Get right back into the circling pattern with him! You can do this repeatedly without taking many hits. Another chance to get at least one hit on him is when he stops at the crank to lower it faster. You really do want to try to hit him at those times so you don’t have to spend even more time reversing the crank to keep the gals safe.
Often, after he takes two hits, TK will jump off the platform, which is supposed to be your chance to turn the crank to raise the drop level. I suggest you only get in a few cranks to raise the bar to about half height so that you have time to release it and run away before TK jumps back up and sneak attacks you. It also gives you a chance to heal or pick up another weapon if need be. As soon as possible, get TK back into the circling pattern for those cheap shots. Using this technique, I was able to completely defeat TK with only about 4 healing items, 4 cranking sessions, and a wrench that eventually broke, which led me to panic and grab the first weapon I could find—a flashlight. Well guess what? By that time, I needed to hit him only two times with the flashlight and he was dead.
Of course, you should expect hiccups if using this plan. I did get grabbed by his stampede attack a few times, but if you are quick enough, you can follow the onscreen button sequence (two buttons) to actually retaliate! And seriously, when in doubt, I ran and rolled away from him to get myself back into a safer position to continue. And as risky as it is, I sometimes threw myself into the flare chase pattern purposely just to grab more health and make it quickly to the safe corner for a breather from the TK fight. And finally, I made sure that I never spent the whole crank turning opportunity actually cranking, instead taking some of that time to fix up my health. I was really impressed with how quickly and smoothly I defeated him once I got this pattern down.
Now, feeling all cocky because I conquered two Dead Rising games, I say bring on the third!