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‘Dead Rising 2’

Pitchforks: ½ out of 5

Developer: Blue Castle Games

Publisher: Capcom

The original “Dead Rising” will go down in videogame history as one of the most brilliant, elegant and unplayable pieces of garbage ever wrought by man. Its elegance comes from its pedigree, a Capcom game through and through. Unfortunately, this is also the source of its flaws.

The mild genius of the first (and second) “Dead Rising” lies in its storytelling architecture. Each narrative event is tied to a mission objective. All mission objectives are timed. Failure to complete a main story mission results in not being able to complete any of the subsequent ones. Tie this system to one where the main arc is painfully short (eight real-world hours, 10 if you go overtime), and a leveling system that means that restarting the game does not reset your stats, and you have achieved unlocked a new achievement: lukewarm serendipity.

Of course, this tempered insight was naturally buried beneath two solid miles of stupid design choices, and even one stupid technical choice. These choices are so stupid, and so non-relevant to “Dead Rising 2,” we will never speak of them again.

“Dead Rising 2” is out, and it is significantly more playable than the previous version. All of the flaws from the previous version have been excised, and replaced with a couple of flaws that one could argue are really just silly (as opposed to stupid) design decisions.

Take the new combo weapons. The developers from Blue Castle Games are very proud of this new system, and really want the player to use it. They are so set on getting the player to make combo weapons that they have made all non-combo weapons garbage. But since the combo weapons are actually pretty cool, this doesn’t quite make the rank of bone-headed design decision.

It’s not just the high level things that the developers over at Blue Castle Games nail. Even the small notes are hit, like the tone whiplashing from zany to depressing at the drop of a hat.

To be sure, there are still objective flaws in “Dead Rising 2.” The psychopath battles, which pitch you against a single human as opposed to a horde of zombies, are still fundamentally amiss. The entire combat engine has been built around one vs. many; you vs. the endless hordes of the undead. Trying to shoehorn this system into a solid one versus one format just isn’t working. It’s better than it was in the first game, but each psychopath fight is still a chore.

On the whole, “Dead Rising 2” is a solid game, solving most of the major flaws of its predecessor, stubbing its toe on a couple of new elements, and just being an all around wonderful game.

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